Honors College Monthly Newsletter: February 2021

Happy New Year

As we welcome students back to campus, we look back at our December graduates and look forward to what the coming weeks/months will bring. We will be welcoming new students to the Honors College, the Class of 2025. Early action application decisions have been submitted, and we are excited to see what unique opportunities and scholarly endeavors these students will pursue. We also are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to engage with our Class of 2020 graduates this coming fall. As we begin 2021, let's keep moving forward Dukes! Stay safe and healthy!!

Welcome Track II Students

We are pleased to admit more than 100 Track II students for Spring 2021. These current JMU students have opted to challenge themselves by joining the Honors community, and we are thrilled to have them! More than 40 of the students are taking advantage of specially-designed HON 100 courses this semester. The courses dive deep into important “how to” topics like: how to build faculty relationships, how to write a stand-out Personal Statement, how to build an ePortfolio showcasing academic success and more. All incoming Track II students additionally complete an asynchronous virtual Honors Orientation, as well meet 1:1 with Jared Diener, Madison Advising Peers, and Dr. Alysia Davis to jumpstart their Honors journey.

Dr. Newcomer. celebrates with Spencer Law and his family.

Congratulations December Graduates

On Friday, December 18, the Honors College enthusiastically shared a small in-person Medallion presentation with December 2020 graduates. Please enjoy a video montage of the day. We wish all the graduates much success and look forward to seeing what the future has in store for each of you. CONGRATS!

Student Programming Updates

While COVID-19 challenges continue, student programming within the Honors College marches on! Two new ongoing programs are launching this semester – Major Mixers and Work in Progress. Time-tested favorites like Toolbox Workshops and Honors Book Club are continuing, and our student organizations - Honors Ambassadors, Madison Honors Leadership Council (MHLC) and Shenandoah Peer Mentors – are thriving. We are also in the midst of year one of the Honors ePortfolio Initiative; Honors is continuing our on-going partnership with UVA’s Batten School of Public Policy and Leadership; and we are thrilled to highlight alumni success, both through student programming and the ongoing efforts of our Hillcrest Club Advisors. Lastly, we hope that you save the date for our Spring Symposium – mark your calendar for April 23 to learn more about wonderful student research. If you have questions about any of these opportunities, please contact Dr. Alysia Davis via email.

Major Mixers: Major Mixers are informal Zoom conversations connecting students interested in similar areas of research, but who don’t necessarily have the exact same major. Embodying the interdisciplinary spirit of Honors, these mixers allow students to interact across majors – students decide where they “fit in.” Participants meet each other, share their interests, have fun, and hopefully walk away with new friends and the opportunity to stay connected via GroupMe. See the full line-up of scheduled Major Mixers for this semester.

Work in Progress: Many students appreciate structured support networks when working on original writing, research and creative projects. Work in Progress is a twice-monthly virtual space for students to casually connect, find peer support, and share writing tips/tricks/hacks. The group meets every other Monday evening from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. to chat and cheer on each other!

Toolbox Workshops: Toolbox Workshops are opportunities for students to learn “soft” skills needed to better position themselves for success. Toolbox Workshops are offered on a monthly basis – while dates/times are still in the works for this semester, we look forward to welcoming Josh Shulruff, Assistant Director for Alternative Break Programs in the Office of Community-Service Learning, to talk about the value of personal reflection in late February.

Book Club: Honors Book Club is open to students AND alumni. We are mixing up the format this semester to allow for both asynchronous and synchronous participation. In February, we are reading A Million Aunties by Alecia McKenzie. Learn more about the Book Club format and sign up details.

ePortfolio Advising Hour: JMU Honors began a 4-year rollout of the ePortfolio Initiative in fall 2020. As part of this initiative, all incoming first-year students receive a Portfolium account as part of their HON 100 class. Portfolium is a user-friendly platform used to create ePortfolios, digital spaces in which students curate, communicate and contextualize their academic and co-curricular skills, experiences, and learning. Beginning in February, Dr. Alysia Davis will host a virtual ePortfolio Advisory Hour every Friday for students seeking guidance on how to build a standout ePortfolio.

Batten School Partnership: The Honors College has a partnership with UVA’s Batten School of Public Policy & Leadership. JMU Honors students AND alumni receive exclusive benefits at the Batten School, including application fee waivers and guaranteed stipends if admitted. If you want to learn more about the Batten School, check out one of their Batten Hour Zoom sessions featuring intriguing topics on a variety of public policy and leadership-related topics. Check out the full line-up online.

Honors Ambassadors Connections: Our Honors Ambassadors continue to amaze with their dedication to the Honors College and willingness to connect 1:1 with prospective and admitted students to chat about the Honors student experience. Honors will be hosting weekly casual drop-in Zoom sessions on Fridays in February and March at 4:00 p.m. In these Zoom sessions, admitted students will be able to have casual conversations with Honors representatives and students. If you know of an admitted student who would benefit from this experience, please pass along that they should RSVP to get the Zoom link.

Young Alumni Network Micro-Internship Initiative: Hillcrest Club Advisors, the advisory group of the Honors young alumni network, hope to identify alumni able to offer short-term, 1-3 week unpaid virtual micro-internships to Honors students this summer. A micro-internship is a short-term professional assignment comparable to tasks that could be given to a new hire or an intern – some common examples are content creation, industry research, data cleanup, and social media support. Ideally these projects will require 5-40 hours of total work across 1-2 weeks, and can be completed remotely. Given the uncertainty of the current job and internship environment for our students, Hillcrest Club Advisors hope that micro-internships simultaneously will provide low-barrier and high-value professional development and networking opportunities. If you can envision a project opportunity, please contact Dr. Alysia Davis via email.

Class of 2020-SAVE THE DATE!

Class of 2020-Homecoming Reunion

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic Honors didn't have the opportunity to celebrate graduation with the Class of 2020. As a remedy let's celebrate Homecoming 2021 together! All 2020 alumni are invited to a special reunion event being planned for this year's Homecoming. Details will be available when the upcoming football schedule is finalized. We hope you will take the opportunity to return to campus and join us in celebrating all the members of the Class of 2020!

Hilda Rodriguez ('23)-NCHC Community Engagement Award Recipient

Honors Students in the News

Hilda Rodriguez ('23) received a Community Engagement Award from the National Collegiate Honors Council. Watch the award presentation (beginning at 17:21) and learn more about Hilda's project! Congratulations Hilda on this achievement.

Hillcrest Scholars Announced

The JMU Honors College is pleased to announce this year's recipients of Hillcrest Scholarships. Each award provides up to $5,000 to support transformative summer experiences for Honors students. Each of these recipients designed a unique project that incorporates their academic, professional, and personal interests. These projects reflect the purposeful and rigorous scholarship undertaken by students in the Honors College. The 2020 recipients are: Mya Baptiste, Jessie Beddow, Steven Davic, Ashley Harrell, and Vivian Lawrence. Anna Lee, Corinne Martin, and Pierre Mbala were named Honorable Mention: Scholars of Promise. Hillcrest Scholarships are made possible through the generous financial support of the Honors Advisory Council. Learn more about each recipient.

Prestigious Scholarship Semi-Finalists Announcement

This year JMU is excited to announce 31 Fulbright and 3 Critical Language Scholarship award semi-finalists; of which 13 were Honors College students. Congratulations to all these students as they pursue this scholarship opportunity! Learn more about National Scholarships and the Office of Research and Scholarship.

Fulbright Semi-Finalists

  • Aliyah Hall '21 (Media, Art and Design)-Graduate Study in Ireland
  • Lillie Jacob '21 (English)-English Teaching Assistant in Luxembourg
  • Haley McAlister '21 (History)-English Teaching Assistant in Moldova
  • Jocelyn Peter '21 (Communication Sciences and Disorders)-English Teaching Assistant in Colombia
  • Claire Ravenburg '21 (Biotechnology)-English Teaching Assistant in Montenegro
  • Julia Rogers '20 (International Affairs)-English Teaching Assistant in Colombia
  • Monica Slater '21 (Music-Voice)-Graduate Study in Hungary
  • Katie Stankard '20 (Geographic Science)-English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan
  • Tyler Strosnider '21 (PPIA)-Research in Ethipoia
  • Abigail Weiderhold '21 (Intelligence Analysis)-English Teaching Assistant in Kyrgyzstan

Critical Language Scholarship Semi-Finalists

  • Lauren Palmieri '20 (History)-Turkish
  • Hannah Schilling '21 (International Affairs)-Arabic

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