The 18 first-year students who form MECâ€™s newly-established Honors Program are off to a good start â€“ meeting with their faculty mentors, establishing good study habits, and even trading notes with MEC President Rudolph F. Crew on success and stamina.
The program, the first such Honors program approved by CUNY, brings together a diverse group of majors in the sciences and liberal arts. The students had already attended a two- week summer immersion program that provided orientation to the college and delved into Math and English courses centered on specific learning techniques such as active engagement in the classroom.
The Honors students are taught in learning communities with intersecting themes in each course. The theme this year is social justice.
â€œWeâ€™re off to a great start,â€ said Chiyedza Small, an Associate Professor of Biology who serves as the Director of the Honors Program. â€œThe students are inspiring, juggling work and school.â€
The other day, the students gathered around a long table to meet with Dr. Crew. They introduced themselves to the President, who peppered them with questions and told them how proud they made him.
Dr. Crewâ€™s first question was what the honors program meant to them. Some students saw it as an affirmation of their hard work through their school careers, others as an example to younger siblings. They mentioned the lap-tops they are provided and the special Honors Program t-shirts (with the words Purpose, Inquiry, Understanding).
â€œIt means a lot to me because it has a lot of opportunities,â€ Enmanuel Jaquez, a Mathematics Science major said of the Honors program.
Like many students at MEC, some of the honors students are the first in their families or the first of their siblings to attend college. â€œI have to set an example,â€ said Biology major Zoe Abney, the oldest of five siblings.
Several students told Dr. Crew that one of the lessons of the program was time management, given that they work full-time and attend school full-time. Rood Pierre, a Biology major, said the program â€œwas really challenging to me,â€ because she had moved to the U.S. only one year ago.
â€œThe real question becomes â€“ what motivates you?â€ Dr. Crew said. â€œYou can do anything your mind decides to do.â€ Every MEC Honors student is paired with a faculty advisor who meets with them regularly to provide guidance and mentorship. The program has several goals: at least one study aboard experience; several internships and a one year thesis research project before graduation.
Students are also expected to participate in social, political and global awareness service projects several times a year. Recently MEC honors students, along the honors program director, raised funds for and participated in the American Cancer Societyâ€™s Breast Cancer walk in Coney Island.
The Honors Program is affiliated with the renowned National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Participating students and faculty will be able to present at national and international conferences and publish their scholarship in NCHC journals and monographs.