UCCS Honors Program gives students scholarships, has course requirements

19 February 2019

Edna Newey

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    UCCS’ Honors Program awards students with yearly scholarships and requires students to follow enroll in specific courses throughout their time in the program.

    The Honors faculty is composed of teachers from different disciplines and services on campus, and directed by Sudhanshu Kumar Semwal of the Computer Science Department.

    “One of the core values of the Honors Program is diversity and is best described through our GPS Gray Matters course,” said Semwal.

    Gray Matter is a Gateway Program Seminar (GPS) course that has follow up courses on public speaking, organizational leadership, research methods, a senior portfolio or project and an honors designated course from each student’s program.

    According to the honors program website, students must maintain a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 3.5 and volunteer nine to 10 hours every semester.

    The $1000 scholarships that members of the honors program will be awarded to 30 members of the honors program, who had a cumulative high school GPA of 3.5 or above, an ACT test score of 26 or above and an SAT score of 1300 or above, must write a 1,000 word essay and participate in an interview or submit a video that fills a similar purpose as an interview.

    “Gray Matters, a cornerstone of our program, provides the unique perspective that opposite views can exist at the same time, thus allowing us to appreciate diversity in both ideas and solutions,” said Semwal on the honors program website.

    “I want to hear others opinions because I know mine might not be correct, and maybe yours is or is not. In the wake of political polarization, it is important to remember how to listen to people that you may not necessarily agree with,” said Semwal.

    A large component of the program is community building. This is in part constructed through volunteer efforts outside of UCCS, such as trail cleanups, and also through events specific for Honors students.

    There are many advantages to being accepted into the Honors Program. Movie nights are a regular event, and honors students have access to an exclusive study lounge in the Kraemer Family Library.

    A student completes the honors program by taking ID 4950-Honors Capstone Seminar. According to the catalog, “This course is intended to demonstrate the student’s ability to think critically and to engage in a project of active learning within the student’s major field of studies. The seminar will integrate acquired knowledge and skills in a capstone project designed to produce upon its successful completion a sense of mastery and intellectual accomplishment that goes significantly beyond classroom learning.”

    A large component of the seminar that is not mentioned in the catalog is that, within the course, students must complete a capstone portfolio which draws on topics and lessons from throughout their career in the program. Because of the one-on-one counseling available to students throughout their studies, it is possible for the portfolio to directly relate to the interest of the student and their future career.

    The Honors Program is not for everyone. The act of being an honors student takes dedication, not only in terms of time and motivation, but also in terms of committing to the ideas expressed within the program. When speaking about acceptance despite disagreement, Semwal said, “We always have a few people drop out of the program.”

    “The biggest thing that we look for in applicants is self-compassion,” said Semwal.

    Students who want to join the program must submit an application. Each cohort is slightly different in application and acceptance standards, so the best way to get the most up to date information is through the honors website: https://www.uccs.edu/honors/.