The New Honors Program: Discovery, Discernment & Drive

This story is featured in the Spring 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine, headed soon to a mailbox near you. Discover below how HPU’s Honors Scholar Program complements HPU’s liberal arts curriculum and prepares students for post-graduate work.


 
To hear students tell it, HPU’s Honors Scholar Program gives them that spark they need.

They take classes that help them develop, as one student says, “thoughts beyond thoughts.” They do research, put together projects, go on trips and organize their own clubs. In the process, they find their community, they find their own.

They talk about everything from poetry to politics way past midnight and use the fourth floor lobby of York Hall, the honors residence hall, as a clubhouse where they create intellectual exercises that let their minds play.

Last fall, the Honors Scholar Program expanded.

Students were given more honors classes to choose from and saw more teams of professors across disciplines collaborating together for courses that teach students the necessary habits of an inquisitive mind.

It’s what Dr. Bill Carpenter, the program’s new director, calls “qualitatively different.”

Honors scholar students take courses that combine ideas from various academic disciplines to show how knowledge can connect.

By the time they’re seniors, they have an electronic portfolio and research experience with professors.

Then, at graduation, they walk across the stage with a medallion around their neck for All University Honors, the highest academic honor a student can receive.

They write, present and collaborate with classmates, refining the very skills companies want and employees need in today’s global economy.

This fall, all of that will begin in a new home.

Honors scholar students will move their headquarters to Finch, a residence hall undergoing a renovation.

They’ll have roommates, a communal kitchen, a new faculty-in-residence and a seminar room for their regular intellectual programs.

But it’s bigger than that. It’s the symbolism of it all.

Finch Hall sits in the middle of campus beside the Kester International Promenade and the statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

And as the program continues to grow, Carpenter sees the location as indicative of what HPU values — intellectual curiosity, intellectual risk-taking, intellectual growth. With HPU’s honors scholars, that does take root.

 

The Discovery of Drive

The recast honors program is five years in the making. Its aim: Recruit and prepare students for post-graduate work and complement the school’s liberal arts curriculum.

It also gives students the intellectual vigor to go after some of the world’s best scholarships, from Roosevelt to Rhodes.

Right now, the Honors Scholar Program has about 260 students. Carpenter says they hope to get about 100 more every year — students who feel just like senior Sam Entwistle.

Entwistle first learned about business at age 9 by running the cash register at her mom’s Hallmark store in Tewksbury, New Jersey.

After she graduates in May with degrees in business entrepreneurship and education, she will enroll in HPU’s master’s degree program in educational leadership.

She knows how the honors program helped her.

“I’ve developed thoughts beyond thoughts, thinking beyond thinking,” Entwistle says. “It has pushed all of us to the next level.”

Cara Sinicropi, 2015 honors scholar graduate

It did that for Cara Sinicropi.

She’s 24, an HPU honors alum. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and international relations and went to work for Redhype, an ad agency in Greenville, South Carolina, her hometown.

Two years ago, she started as a junior copywriter.

After two promotions, she now works as Redhype’s brand strategist. She supervises four people, drinks coffee from a purple HPU mug and works in an office with a view of downtown Greenville.

Her honors work at HPU, she says, helped her get there.

“It forced me to step out of my comfort zone,” she says of the program. “I accomplished more than I thought I could.”

 

A Fountain of Knowledge

Honors scholar students take courses that use the faculty’s strengths to encourage students to step out of their academic comfort zone so they can learn and grow.

It’s that holistic approach to higher education, unveiled in the new program’s mission statement as “empowering students to cultivate contemplative inner-selves and to build meaningful public lives.”

HPU junior Devon Cosgrove, an honors scholar from Devon, Pennsylvania, has a name for that: the “fountain of knowledge.”

“I never felt that in high school, and I was the president of my class,” Cosgrove says. “But I felt that here at High Point. It made me realize I’m part of something special.”

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