Students in Genesee Community College's Honors Program

Genesee Community College, Batavia, New York - The fall 2004 Honors Program at Genesee Community College included a series of very successful final projects and presentations, as well as a special field trip for a community service activity at Vive La Casa in Buffalo, New York.

Fourteen students (listed below) were enrolled in the College's four different Honors courses this semester. The students represent the wide breadth of Genesee's various academic programs, as well as a wide range of ages. While some were just beginning to pursue their first career, other Honors students had returned to college after raising families and/or switching to an entirely new vocation.

Genesee's Honors Program, which includes Honors Seminars (HON 201 - 204), Interdisciplinary Honors (HON 210), Enriched Courses and Mentorships (HON 111-134), encourages academic work of depth, originality, and superior quality. The experience is designed to be challenging and promote independent, creative study. Admission into the Honors Program is selective and limited with candidates required to provide a written essay, letters of recommendation, and be formally interviewed as part of the application process.

"The Honors program provides students who demonstrate superior potential with an ideal opportunity to express their creativity, academic excellence and originality through an interdisciplinary study model," said Dr. Karin Kovach-Allen, Genesee's dean of human communication and behavior, and also one of the lead professors of the Honors Program. "It is a place where academic distinction and imagination flourish. We were delighted with this semester's collective and individual efforts."

Students enrolled in Honors Seminars worked under the unifying theme of "dreams" or "visions for the future" for their studies-a topic they developed and selected. Among the final projects were presentations on oral histories with residents in a nursing home; a study on inclusion in elementary school classes, Sun Records and the Million Dollar Quartet, and Ethics in Management.

Meanwhile, students in the Interdisciplinary class (HON 210) studied "Race", and were led by four different faculty members who presented the topic through interrelated components within their own area of specialty. Biological aspects of race were presented by Marirose Ethington, associate professor in Biology; Sociology was covered by Patricia Schwartz, assistant professor of Sociology; History by instructor Garth Swanson; and literature by Marie Iglesias-Cardinale, associate professor of English.

"It was a unique learning experience that stretched our thinking," recalls Kristina Marchese, a Genesee sophomore who plans to continue her math / sciences studies for a career in medicine or pharmaceuticals. "We dug deeper and went beyond the usual comfort zones. Though it was structured like a regular class, there was a graduate level atmosphere. In a small group we were encouraged to work on independent projects that reflected our own interests in the subject area."

After completing a very scientific research project for last semester's Enriched Honors course which documented the results of photosynthesis under different colored light sources, Ms. Marchese decided to pursue one of her other interests with this semester's race relations project. She synthesized her impressions of race from each academic component into one 16" by 20" acrylic painting-revisiting her artistic talent from high school.

The Honors students earn special designation on their college transcript by successfully acquiring a total of 12 Honors credits. Typically completed in three to four semesters, Honors students maintain a rigorous schedule to complete the program. They participate in semester-long seminars for one credit each semester they are part of the program; enriched courses that earn three credits each, or several mentorships for up to three credits. Students may also to take the Interdisciplinary Honors class designed around a special topic at certain intervals. Among the many benefits of being part of the Honors program, students receive a $200 stipend each semester to help defray college tuition and expenses.

"It is a lot of work, but certainly worth it," Ms. Marchese said. "Being in the Honors program certainly stands-out to four-year colleges and future job opportunities."

In addition to their hard work in the academic arena, Honors students and faculty engage in community activities each semester to broaden their horizons and awareness. "We've attended cultural fairs at Darien Lake, the Beijing Opera at UB, watched a play on the Japanese comfort women presented at Genesee by SUNY Geneseo, and dined in ethnic restaurants," recalls Karen Taylor, associate professor of English at Genesee Community College and one of the lead teachers in the Honor's Program.

On Sunday, November 21, eight Honors Program students (Renée Price, Kristina Marchese, Pat Gardner, Adrian Wagner, Barbara Parker-Crandall, Neil Gagné, Jessica Cutcliffe, and Yusuke Takahashi), accompanied instructors, Dr. Kovach-Allen and Ms. Taylor to Vive La Casa, a temporary shelter for refugees in Buffalo, NY. The students learned that Vive, a temporary home for individuals and families who are fleeing persecution in their native countries and awaiting permission to enter Canada as asylum seekers, was in need of a facelift in their facility. With the monies raised by selling candy, students bought paint and supplies to give Vive's nurse's office a fresh look. They made also curtains for the office and were briefed on the history and function of Vive.

"Students seeking deep intellectual challenges that will enrich their academic experiences sometimes overlook community colleges," Ms. Taylor said. "Genesee's Honors Program provides these students with a rewarding opportunity to advance their studies and be recognized for their efforts and we are already looking forward to the continuation of the Honors Program in the 2005 spring semester "

The following students were enrolled in Genesee's fall 2004 Honors Program and demonstrated their serious pursuit of academic excellence with a team spirit and creative social and intellectual exchanges:

HONORS 201Barbara Falker-Crandall, OakfieldNeil E. Gagne, Batavia, NYPolina S. Ivanova, Pernik, BulgariaRenee D. Price, Stafford, NYWesley L. Salen, Middleport, NYYusuke Takahashi, Chiba, Japan HONORS 202Patricia O. Gardner, York, NYJennifer S. Patterson, Medina, NY Adrian G. Wagner, Rochester, NY (Native of Romania)HONORS 203Catherine A. Barnes, Churchville, NYJonathan P. Bouchard, Perry, NYJessica M. Cutcliffe, Pavilion, NYKristina M. Marchese, Elba, NYDeborah L. Odom, Pavilion, NY

Please note: Several photographs of the Honors Program students working at Vive La Casa are available at the following Internet addresses with appropriate photo captions identifying the participants. Volunteers1.jpg Genesee Community College Honors Program students look up at their voluntary efforts of painting the Nurses Office at Vive La Casa, a temporary shelter for refugees in Buffalo, NY. Left to right are: Kristina Marchese, Yusuke Takahashi, Jessica Cutcliffe, and Adrian Wagner. Volunteer2.jpgNeil Gagne of Batavia was one of the volunteers at Vive La Casa who painted the Nurses Office as part of the special initiative of the Honors Programs at Genesee Community College.