Letter from the Director, Fall 2019

To the Community of Honors Program Alumni,

As you are aware, November has been an extremely difficult month for the campus community. The Honors Program has supported the #NotAgainSU student led protests, which responds to acts of racist and anti-Semitic bigotry directed against members of the community. We have spent much time with students at the Barnes Center, and asked how we could be supportive. The students told us that the community had generously provided them with food, but that they wanted a hot meal. Dr. Karen Hall, Assistant Program Director, made arrangements for a lasagna dinner. Butters Hall, Karen’s dog, is a regular at the Barnes Center, and the students love giving him hugs when he visits. Students have also been given civic engagement hours for their activism. Further, honors faculty have provided time and space in their classrooms for students to engage in open and honest dialogue, and have been present in classrooms and their offices for any student who chose to stop by to talk

In November, Professor Robert Ashford, Professor of Law, Syracuse University College of Law, presented a guest lecture, ‘Inclusive Capitalism: The Ownership Broadening Road to Shared Prosperity and Sustainable Growth,’ to students in my honors course, Conceptualizing Human Rights. He proposes that based on the principle of binary economics, this approach can reverse growing income and wealth inequalities, and provide incentives for sustainable economic prosperity. Students were fascinated with his ideas and arguments for a paradigm shift in how we think of financial capital, and how this shift could enhance the earning capacity of the poor and middle class, without redistribution.

These rich, intellectual conversations and academic activities distinguish honors courses. This semester, students in Professor Svetoslava Todorova’s (Civil and Environmental Engineering) class, The Role of Science in Environmental Governance, conducted a simulation exercise in preparation for travel to Geneva, Switzerland, during Thanksgiving break, where they participated in the 3rd Conference of the Parties of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Students in Honors Environmental Governance class


Professor Jim Watts’ (Religion) class, Writing Scripture Law, visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Students examined hieroglyphic and cuneiform inscriptions in the Egyptian and Mesopotamian galleries of the museum. Students then composed comparative research papers on ancient written artifacts exhibited at the MET with written texts in use on campus.

Writing Scripture Law class at the MET Museum of Art

The program’s commitment to innovative ways of teaching provides unique professional and research opportunities for honors students. We have extended funding to include early engagement in research for all honors students. We have also increased funding levels for students to present their work at national conferences and abroad. Our vision is that honors funding for research, internships and other professional opportunities would be at a level that puts SU honors students at a competitive advantage as compared with graduate school and professional candidates from other elite institutions.

The first Annual Honors Program Research Fair was held on October 18th, during family weekend. The main objective of the fair was to support students early in the research process, particularly as they begin to conceptualize their own honors theses. Sixteen students presented their research and over 100 guests, including family members, attended the festival.

Students at the inaugural Honors research fair in October


We continue to collaborate with partners across the university to sponsor many thought-provoking events. In September, Kyaw Thein, a recent college graduate, shared her story of being a Rohingya woman in Myanmar, and the impact of the current crisis on her family and community members. In November, Sumathi Ramaswamy, James B. Duke Professor of History, Duke University, will present a talk, Through American Eyes – The Mahatma and Margaret Bourke-White, as part of Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience, events which celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Alumna Emily LoBraico (A&S ’15) visited campus in October. Emily is a doctoral candidate in Human Development and Family Studies, at Penn State University. She attended first year orientation seminar classes where she spoke with students about her undergraduate experiences, and then met with juniors and seniors to share about her graduate school research, work and experiences.

CFSA Keeps Growing!

2019 has been an exciting year for the Center for Fellowship & Scholarship Advising! In May, CFSA hired its first assistant director, Melissa Welshans. Melissa earned her Ph.D. in English from Syracuse University and has also taught in the Honors Program. Her hire marks the expansion of CFSA from an office with one full-time employee (Jolynn Parker, CFSA’s director) to two, in addition to support the office receives from Honors Program staff.

2019 Fulbright applicants Tajanae Harris and Samar Al- Any

The University’s investment in expanding CFSA yielded a record number of applicants to the Fulbright U.S. student program this year. The Fulbright U.S. Student awards support English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) and Research/Study grants. In the 2019 cycle, 26 undergraduates, eight graduate students and 11 alumni submitted applications. This number far surpasses the 25 students who usually apply. To mark the occasion, we even made T-shirts! Pictured are Tajanae Harris, ’20 and Samar Al-Any, ’19, two of this year’s applicants. Tajanae, a member of the Honors Program, is joined by 11 other current Honors students and four Honors alumni in this year’s applicant pool. CFSA looks forward to working with more applicants—including alumni—in next year’s Fulbright cycle. Interested candidates should contact the office by June 1 to get started with applications.

CFSA also had a record number of applications for other prestigious national awards this year, including four applicants to the Marshall Scholarship, one to the Mitchell Scholarship, two to the Schwarzman Scholarship, and two to the Luce Scholarship. This applicant pool includes one currently enrolled Honors Student, and two Honors alumni. If you are interested in applying to these opportunities, register with CFSA by June 1 and complete an “Intent to Apply” form by July 1. We look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Holidays!

Danielle Smith
Director, Honors Program

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