Honors College marks 10th anniversary

Travis Taylor


When Baylor alumni talk about their experiences in the Honors College, one word continues to come up: Impact.

The Honors College, a collection of two majors, great texts and University Scholars, and two programs, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and the Honors Program, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Almost 350 students live in the Honors Residential College.

But the impact of being in the Honors College does not end after four years at Baylor.

Kelsey Jones, who graduated in 2012 and is now a seventh grade English and language arts teacher in Houston, said her experience in the Honors Program and as a University Scholars major helped prepare her for her work teaching grammar and English through the Teach for America program.

“I was taught to think long and think hard and think about the questions,” Jones said. “All of us are extremely well prepared as critical thinkers.”

Jones, who also worked as an editor for Baylor’s undergraduate scholarly publication The Pulse, said the Honors College offers a unique place where students and professors can build lasting relationships.

“These professors are some of my best friends,” Jones said. “It’s just this incredibly holistic relationship.”

Jones said it was her relationships with professors that convinced her that she wanted to go into teaching.

“They’re not afraid of hurting your feelings,” Jones said. “They’re just like, ‘Here is what I think.’ They care about their students.”

Grant Shellhouse, a 2012 alum of the Honors Program who teaches sixth grade English and language arts, said an Honors College professor is not just a teacher, but “a seeker of truth” alongside the student.

“They weren’t just conveying knowledge from one person to another,” Shellhouse said.

Shellhouse said his education as a University Scholars major was what formed his future.

“It shapes how I do anything, whether I’m a teacher, a cook, someone who drives a taxi, anything,” Shellhouse said.

2008 Baylor graduate James Nortey II, who works as an attorney at the Andrews Kurth law firm in Austin, said the Honors Program also helped shape him into the person he is today.

“I knew I wanted to go to law school,” Nortey said. “Taking a lot of courses in the Honors College helped me realize who I am and who I wanted to be.”

Nortey’s love of law was further refined through the Honors Program.

“I had that passion before I came to Baylor,” Nortey said. “But the Honors College confirmed it.”

Nortey, who has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and a minor in criminal justice, said he does not deny that the Honors Program is difficult.

“It is a challenge, and I am not going to shy away from that,” Nortey said.

For Nortey, certain aspects of the Honors Program, such as the honors thesis project, student and professor relationships and the small class sizes, were key to the program’s success.

“It prepares you for a heightened curriculum,” Nortey said. “It prepares you to go above and beyond from what was expected from regular Baylor curriculum.”

Sarah Berry, an Honors Program alum who graduated in 2010 with a University Scholars Bachelor of Arts, said it was the community that she developed with her professors that impacted her the most.

“A lot of these professors were, first of all, great professors,” Berry said. “But also, the amount of time that they spent with me, that sort of gave me a model for what kind of professor I wanted to be.”

Berry said her professors are still interested in her life now.

Currently, Berry is working on a Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Connecticut.

Berry also credited the curriculum of the Honors Program, in particular the great texts courses, as to why she decided to focus on literature.

“They got me interested in the humanities as something that I wanted to study,” Berry said. “They got me interested in a whole new list of writers and thinkers that I didn’t know too much about.”

All of the alumni said they would recommend incoming students find out more information about becoming a part of the Honors College.