Q&A with first graduate of the NNU Honors College

April 12, 2016

Incoming college students have to sift through many opportunities in order to decide where their time and energy should be invested. Although it is not as beneficial—or as enjoyable—to be overcommitted and spread thin over a surplus of programs and activities, high achieving students will not want to miss the NNU Honors College experience.

Since students admitted into the university honors program must have a minimum high school GPA of 3.5, earn at least a 25 on the ACT and be in the upper 10% of their graduating classes, they are very likely capable of balancing the academic load with their other personal, spiritual and professional goals.

Those who take on the challenge of the Honors College won’t be disappointed. The program seeks to provide an integrative learning experience for academically accomplished students, and the coursework offers an alternative to some of the general education requirements. As it gives students access to a unified and flexible approach to knowledge, the Honors College offers significant interdisciplinary learning experiences.

Still not sure about the value of the honors program? Just ask Jessica Guarino (Bella Vista, Ark.) who is currently in NNU’s Honors College and will be its very first official graduate in May 2016. Jessica—who shares some insights into her experience below—will have completed the four-year program with a year to spare and a BA in Political Science with a minor in History. She has been accepted to about 10 law schools and plans on attending either Boston College’s School of Law or the University of Arkansas School of Law to obtain a J.D.

Why did you choose to enroll in the NNU Honors College?
I chose to enroll because I was enticed by the opportunity to take unique, interdisciplinary courses that would challenge me both intellectually and personally.

What has your experience been like in the Honors College?
My experience has been overwhelmingly positive. It has pushed me to consider points of view and topics I otherwise would not think about. It provided me with a sense of community and surrounded me with people like myself who love to learn. The professors are exceptional—they will encourage you to consider difficult concepts and ask important questions that will frustrate you, but they are always there to provide guidance. This process allows you to grow and learn.

How is it different from other classes?
Honors College classes are different from others in that the people and the subject matter are more diverse. My peers represent nearly every department on campus. We have people involved in music education, engineering, biology, political science, history, elementary and secondary education, philosophy, psychology—the list goes on. As for the subject matter, we get to take classes that cross disciplines such as literature and science, philosophy and history, theology and psychology. These topics alone are foreign to me as a political science major, but take on a new degree of intrigue when combined. The diverse people and topics create rich discussions involving multiple points of view on matters you might not discuss in typical classes.

Would you recommend this program to other students?
I cannot overstate how much the Honors College has benefited me. I would highly recommend and encourage any student contemplating joining the Honors College to do so. It is a decision they will not regret.

Have you seen any transformation in your life—or mindset—while at NNU?
Most certainly. My time at NNU has dramatically altered my entire perception of the world and thus how I approach the world and the people in it. My professors have helped me to sharpen my critical thinking skills and pushed me to find how I can best make a positive difference in the lives of those around me.

Photo credit: Austin Thomas