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Honors helped me explore my curiosity

| Sarah Kintner, a graduating senior geology major

Sarah KintnerAs graduation looms closer and closer I have been given many opportunities to reflect on my time at UWEC. Many pinnacle programs, events and people come to mind when I think of what made my college experience special; the University Honors Program is one of those special programs. I’ve been a part of University Honors since I was a freshman and I will graduate with departmental honors as well. The Honors Program has provided diversity to my courses, enriched my understanding of the world around me and helped me to become a more fulfilled individual.

My favorite part of the Honors Program is its way of promoting and instilling curiosity on this campus. Honors Colloquia classes are taught by a range of faculty, many who have proposed their own class ideas. Naturally, this leads to enthusiastic professors, lively discussions, and a focus on inquisitiveness and passion in the classroom. One of my first Honors classes was "Songs and Symphonies" with Dr. Jerry Young. Dr. Young’s love of music oozed from his aura. We covered Beethoven and Billy Joel; learned about music therapy and how to analyze a symphony; watched an opera and, most importantly, gained a deep appreciation for classical music and the art of a concept album. These classes truly expand horizons and help Honors students become more well-rounded and knowledgeable students. 

Personally, I’ve taken a courses in Hmong culture, history and language; civic agency and public schools; and global health issues. I have been able to explore my interests and take classes not directly related to my major without delaying graduation. I have been encouraged to discuss, analyze and debate because the goal of these courses is to increase critical thinking, awareness and public discussions. A noticeable difference between UWEC’s Honors Program and the honors classes I took in high school is that the university's program doesn’t focus on heavy workloads and fast-paced curricula. The focus is on discussion and application so that the students get a deep and meaningful grasp of the topics. I can say, in completely honesty, that my Honors courses have been the most impactful courses of any on my transcript. 

The Honors Program also promotes its ideals through non-academic events such as Meals with Honors, trips to an opera in Minnesota with individuals from local nursing homes, an Honors living and learning community and more. Dr. Jeff Vahlbusch, director of the Honors Program, and the dedicated Honors staff provide so many opportunities for us to learn and grow. Reflecting on my time at UWEC, I wish I had taken advantage of more of these events. You’re never too busy to learn, but I’m learning that lesson a little late in college.

College is a pivotal time in one’s life. The opportunities that we accept or stumble upon have a way of shaping our identities more than we can predict. When I reflect on my personal growth in these past five years, there’s credit due to many programs, people, projects and events. One of the programs to which I owe gratitude is the University Honors Program for helping me explore my curiosity, challenge my beliefs and fulfill my journey through life.

Photo captions:

Large photo: Sarah Kintner (center) with fellow Goldwater Scholars Kelsey Steinke (left) and Elizabeth Stubbs (right).

Photo within story
Sarah Kintner