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Honors Program Grows at NECC

Submitted by on August 13, 2013 – 8:48 am
Zach Rice

Zach Rice

At nearly 15 years old, the Honors Experience, which is the honors program at Northern Essex Community College, has hit its stride with more students enrolling in honors classes and graduating from the honors program than ever before.

This past spring a dozen NECC graduates completed the honors program, which according to English Professor Ginger Hurajt, coordinator of the honors program, is double the graduates from previous years.

“This is good news,” she says. “The program can never be too big.”

Zach Rice of Derry, NH is one of the students who graduated from the Honors Experience this past May. A 2000 graduate of Shrewsbury High School, he enrolled at Northern Essex for re-training after an injury forced him to make a career change. While he was admittedly a less than serious student in high school, he discovered that he “loved learning” at Northern Essex.

Rice is transferring to the University of New Hampshire this fall where he will study environmental science. Eventually he plans to work in water and soil management.

Some 85 students actively participated in honors program last academic year. NECC has stepped up its outreach to students through social media, personal letters, and encouraging honors students to present their honors projects so other students will be exposed to them.

In the coming semesters Northern Essex will be offering new honors courses such as Honors Humanities and honors sections of Abnormal Psychology and Introduction to Biology. Students must complete either two honors courses or complete an honors project in two regular courses. Students who opt for the honors project work with a faculty mentor. At the end of the semester, the student produces a 10-15-page paper; presents the project to the class, and participates in an Honors Poster Session. In addition, honors students must enroll in an honors colloquium course and earn at least a B. The spring 2014 colloquium will be “Blueprint for a Sustainable Life,” taught by Marcy Yeager.

Why should students consider taking honors courses or enrolling in the honors program?
“Without question, for scholarship,” says Hurajt. “Our honors students have historically received some terrific scholarships.”

These scholarships have come from both public and private schools, she notes.

The honors program is ideal for students who are independent learners, who have motivation and perseverance, as well as the passion to pursue an honors level project, says Hurajt. Some students, she says, do just one honors course or project without committing to the honors program. That course receives honors designation on the transcript.

Students in the Honors Program also participate in an Honors Community Service Learning Activity, and have volunteered for hospices, veterans centers and homeless shelters.

The Honors Experience is designed along the guidelines of the National Collegiate Honors Council and has full status as a Commonwealth Honors Program. This guarantees transfer to a Massachusetts four-year state college or university honors programs upon acceptance to that institution.

Students who complete all of the Honors Experience requirements receive special recognition at graduation and a Commonwealth Honors Scholar seal on their diploma.