Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Pirate Picnic --ENGWR 480 in front of Portable 611 

There are unexpected, tender mercies in life that are too numerous to count.  The sound of summer rain being drunk in by a dry earth.  The smell of coffee, clean sheets, and pink roses. The taste of aged cheddar cheese with a ripe pear.  Tears of joy. A bride and groom’s first kiss.  Being part of a college honors program when you are 53 years old.

In truth, I never thought I’d be part of any club or organization when I went back to school; it turns out I joined the Honors Society just by participating in classes.  I am humbled that I qualified for the Honors Program at American River College and never took it for granted. 

The Honors program is one that ARC classifies as “self-selecting” – a program in which you may voluntarily participate if your assessment scores allow you.  The classes usually require more reading and writing and classroom participation is a must.  No one is on their cell phones in an honors class.  I didn’t just participate in honors classes, I loved them.  I absolutely adored them.

Here are a few reasons why:
  1.  Students: Honors students are (unapologetically) the brightest, boldest, most competitive kids on campus.  Throw an older lady in the mix and they will keep that older lady on her toes just so she won’t fall behind.  Every honors class that I walked into were filled with nerdy goofballs. Students that are fun, funny, can juggle a full academic schedule, play a musical instrument, and participate in sports without breaking a sweat.  They reminded me of my friends in high school (I was on the Speech Team with a bunch of fellow nerds).  I loved them all—I dare say that they made me feel part of them. They are thoughtful, logical, passionate, and they listen to one another.  They taught me to listen.  They taught me to get over myself.  They taught me to study when I wanted to watch TV.  They taught me which foods to eat the day of a test.  If you asked me how I felt about the future of our nation, I would say that I would elect any of these honors students into office. 
    My English Writing Honors Class -- Blackbeard's Pirates led by our beautiful Professor O'Brien
  2.  Professors: Honors professors expect the highest level of participation, thought, research, attention, and cooperation from their students.  They do not listen to excuses (“I have another midterm on this day” or “My other Grandma died”).  They do not play favorites.  They push their students to reach their highest potential and give them oodles of opportunities to shine.  Each honors professor I had was either my age or younger than I was – and they cracked the same whip for me.  I am forever grateful.
  3. Classroom: Instead of rows of desks, most honors classes push their seats in a circle and have a round robin of conversation.  The classroom is filled with differing opinions, thoughtful insights, and respectful disagreements.  A classroom that is alive with thought is the most productive environment in which to learn.
  4. Convenience: I took five honors classes while at ARC.  They are offered in the day, at night, in the afternoon.  If you want to take an honors class, it is available.  ARC offers special recognition to those complete fifteen units of Honors classes while they are enrolled.  I thought that I would not be able to complete enough classes to graduate with the Honors Transfer Certificate, but I did.  And you can bet I went to the ceremony to get my flipping certificate!! 
    Getting our Honors Certificates! 

There are many things I will miss about ARC, but the Honors Program is one of the biggest.  It is the program that reminded me to run without complaining and do my best with the brain God gave me.  If I can do it, anyone can do it. 

The Honors Program dares you to be more than you think you are.