The Honors Program is an academic program that provides an intellectually enriched curriculum for highly motivated students, allowing them to demonstrate academic excellence through Honors coursework, independent research, creative work, and extracurricular opportunities. Members of the Honors Program are on-campus undergraduate students from all different majors and degrees. In addition to taking Honors options in five of their courses, they complete a senior thesis of research, service-learning, or creative work.
This spring, the Honors Program enrolled its largest group of students to the program and will celebrate its biggest graduating class during the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 15. There will be 17 Honors Program graduates this year. Over the past 10 years, 58 students have graduated from the Honors Program. The first student, Chrissy Kreig, graduated from the program in 2007.
Professor of English Alisa Clapp-Itnyre has been the director of the Honors Program since 2010. She was part of a six-member faculty committee that developed the program, 2004-2005, and then, along with two other faculty members, Emerita Professor Joanne Passet and former Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Kumara Jayasuriya, taught the first Honors class in 2005.
“The Honors Program has grown beyond any of our expectations. It recruits between 50-60 students every year, and we maintain about 120 students at a time. Through their enthusiasm and motivation, Honors students contribute in integral ways to the academics, leadership, and community outreach of the campus. It is a pleasure to work with so many of them in classes, on projects, and through Program trips,” Clapp-Itnyre said.
Past directors include Joanne Passet and Margaret Thomas Evans. Marcy Jance, associate professor business administration, is a past member of the Honors Program Committee and served as the club advisor for the program, 2012-14. She said the Honors Program gives students the opportunity to go beyond their normal degree requirements.
“The Honors Program offers students the chance to engage in research and service-learning opportunities. In addition the Honors Club provides cultural and educational opportunities such as trips to Chicago and Indianapolis. It is a wonderful program and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to participate as both a committee member and club advisor.”
As part of the 10th anniversary celebration, two events will be held this week, the Honors Alumni Reunion Chew & Chat and the Honors Program Graduation and Recognition. Both events are free and open to the public.
The Honors Alumni Reunion Chew & Chat will be from 3-4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, in Springwood Hall Room 202. Honors Program alumni will return to share their stories since graduating.
The Honors Program Graduation and Recognition Ceremony will be held from 4-5 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, in the Campus Library, located in Hayes Hall. City of Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton will be the keynote speaker.
Emily O’Brien of Richmond, Ind., is a senior English and history major at IU East. She joined the Honors Program in 2011. She has been an officer for the program each year, has helped to plan and attended cultural events and academic conferences, has established service-learning projects and has received scholarships. She has also worked as a research assistant for Professor Emerita Joanne Passet and Professor of Political Science Paul Kriese, sparking her own interest in research and pursuit of a career in academia.
“One of the best things about the Honors Program is the close community it provides for its students on campus—having friends who are as academically driven as you are is helpful beyond belief, and one of the best things about the program,” O’Brien said.
She added being a part of the Honors Program has led to other opportunities on campus. O’Brien has been a member of several committees including for the “One Book, Many Voices” project, and was the student speaker at the Student Activities and Events Center Groundbreaking Ceremony. She is the president of the Student Government Association (SGA), editor-in-chief of Tributaries, IU East’s journal of student creative writing and artwork, and she is president of Sigma Tau Delta at IU East. She also served a year as the student representative for the Faculty Senate.
“I have had countless cultural, academic, and professional experiences during my time at IU East, and I truly feel that without my participation in the Honors Program I would not have had half as many great experiences during my time as an undergraduate student,” O’Brien said. “Being an honors student is more than getting good grades—it is also about being a culturally well-rounded student, a strong researcher, a skilled leader and just an all-around good person. Most of my best memories from my undergraduate career are associated with my time in the Honors Program, and I would not trade them for the world.”
Honors Program Graduates 2015
Erik Baker, Richmond, Ind.
Christine Carrera, Richmond, Ind.
Kelsey Wolfe Davis, Greenville, Ohio
Chase Eversole, Richmond, Ind.
Kaylyn Flora, Richmond, Ind.
Brianna Keener, Connersville, Ind.
Ashley Hall, Connersville, Ind.
Drew Houck, Portland, Ind.
Alexis Hurd, Richmond, Ind.
Heather Proctor, Richmond, Ind.
Felicia Chagdes Miller, Richmond, Ind.
Chelsy Nichols, Connersville, Ind.
Emily O’Brien, Richmond, Ind.
Kaly Reichter, Richmond, Ind.
Brooke Sahm, Indianapolis, Ind.
Lori Stephens, Carthage, Ind.
Michael Teufel, Richmond, Ind.