Honors Program challenges minds

by Aaron Kiel
Staff Writer

Often challenging and demanding, the ULV Honors Program returns both educational and personal benefits to students who participate in its interdisciplinary curriculum and colloquium.

“I think our mission is primarily an academic one,” said Dr. Andrea Labinger, director of the Honors Program and professor of Spanish.

The program’s idea came while Dr. Labinger was on sabbatical in 1987. When she returned, she decided to push forward with it.

“I pretty much engineered it [the Honors Program],” Dr. Labinger said.

An honors program is not unique to La Verne. Other college campuses across the nation have similar programs. When ULV decided to have an honors program, Dr. Labinger and other faculty looked into different programs at other colleges and universities before initiating La Verne’s program in the fall of 1988.

“You have to establish a program that’s appropriate,” Dr. Labinger said.

Students who take part in the course are required to enroll in four interdisciplinary seminars recommended to be taken during the first two years of school. Some of the seminars include “Politics and Film,” “Utopia or Myopia,” “The Creative Process” and “The Changing Family.”

“The idea of interdisciplinary courses I found very attractive,” said Dr. Labinger.

Each seminar is taught by a team of two professors from different areas of study. Through this process, honors students begin to make connections between a variety of subjects.

Dr. Labinger said, “If a student learns how to establish connections then they will be able to use that for the rest of his or her life.”

Along with the seminars, honors students must participate in three honors colloquia which include participation in 10 events. The colloquia, according to an honors handout, are “activity-based classes that explore contemporary issues through reading and discussion organized around attendance at campus and community events.”

“The colloquium is a way to encourage students to become involved in the life of the community,” Dr. Labinger said.

The colloquia events include art exhibits, senior recitals, speeches or dramatic presentations which the students attend for credit in the colloquium class.

“It’s challenging,” said sophomore Natalie Lehr, Honors Society vice-president, “but it’s not like it’s too difficult where you can’t get the work done.”

Because the program is challenging, honors students are often stereotyped as being stressed out. Dr. Labinger differs, “Honors students tend to come into the University stressed out.”

But while the demands of the courses are heavy, there are rewards. Dr. Labinger said students have a chance to broaden their perspectives, enjoy personal growth and advance leadership skills.

Some rewards are more tangible than others. Tuesday at the Academic Awards Night ceremony five honors students were recognized for their achievements. Seniors Joel Gingrich and Michael Matthews were presented with awards from the Honors Program for distinguishing themselves throughout their years at ULV.

“It’s always a real difficult choice,” said Dr. Labinger about choosing the recipients.

“He [Matthews] has been elected to Alpha Chi [an honors society] and he has served as the president of Alpha Chi. He’s just a real good student. And Joel has just done all sorts of wonderful things and maintained an extremely high G.P.A.,” said Dr. Labinger of the two honorees.

For an honors scholarship essay competition, three students won cash prizes ranging from $100 to $300. Junior Monica Schwarze won first place with her essay entitled “Duck Soup: The Politics of Public Opinion.” Sophomore Amy Borer received second place for her paper, “Silent Rebellion: Politics in The Graduate” and sophomore Martha Fernandez placed third with her political analysis on the film Salt of the Earth.

Aaron Kiel
Other Stories

Latest Stories

Related articles

Program focused on sexual assault prevention

The Honors Program hosted a date rape drugs information session on Nov. 17 in the Sara and Michael Abraham Campus Center, where survivors discussed their experiences and the effect it has had on their lives.

Brantley’s new book considers consumer activism of late 20th century

Allyson Brantley, assistant professor of history, discussed the boycotts against the Coors Brewing Company in the 1970s, at a virtual book launch for her new book, “Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors & Remade American Consumer Activism.” 

Lecture considers literature in translation

Andrea Labinger, emeritus professor of Spanish, discussed translating Southern Cone literature – from the southernmost region of South America – during her lecture titled “Rara Avis: A Reading in Translation” before roughly 25 students and faculty members Tuesday via Zoom. 

Gingrich influenced University’s mission, values

Dr. John Gingrich, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor emeritus of religion and philosophy, died peacefully in his sleep on Dec. 7. He was 80.