College’s only honors experience opens range of opportunities, scholarships
This year, 15 students applied for the Intercultural Honors Experience—what some call the college’s most challenging course offered.
The program, which was introduced 11 years ago, is designed to help students build a solid intercultural foundation, introduce them to interdisciplinary learning and offer them the opportunity to study abroad at a more affordable cost.
“IHE is the only academic honors course program on campus,” said Jennifer Cataldi, director of the Office of Global Education. “It is a team-led program that pairs faculty who apply for the course with students who also apply for the course. It’s a really academically challenging, energized environment for our students to be engaged in.”
For one semester, students are exposed to an environment slightly different from a typical college class, Cataldi said. The four-credit hour seminar-style course, which heavily resembles a graduate-level class, focuses on one topic relevant to international studies. The topic changes each year, as do the professors teaching the course.
This year’s topic is “The Immigrant’s Journey: Immigration in the United States and Abroad.” History professor Lourdes Hurtado and English professor George Phillips will teach the course for the first time.
“They’ve picked a very topical course and one that has a lot of student interest,” Cataldi said. “They’ll take a look at immigration, both the history and culture of immigration, as well as any political issues that surround immigration.”
The application process is open to freshmen, sophomores and juniors, but typically attracts freshmen. Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, complete an application, pass an entrance exam, interview with IHE team members and receive two letter of recommendation.
“Fourteen offers of acceptance were sent to students [this year],” Cataldi said.
Completing the course has several benefits, Cataldi said, including the eligibility for exclusive scholarships to study abroad. Students must pass the course with an 80 percent or higher to qualify for study abroad scholarships, which are reserved specifically for them.
Cataldi said students should take notice that achieving an 80 percent is “far more difficult” than the average class.
Despite the challenges that accompany the class, students who have completed the course in previous years agree said the class is beneficial for a variety of reasons.
“The class was a lot to take on as a freshman, but it was a valuable experience in that it allowed me to practice and refine skills such as public speaking, writing and creating a conference style presentation,” senior Caspian Schmitz said. “IHE changed the rest of my college experience in a positive way, both in academics and in my role as a citizen of the world.”