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The first class of the NEO Honors Program began during the spring 2018 semester and has created opportunities to challenge high-performing students with a curriculum designed to prepare them to successfully transition to four-year institutions or the workforce with enhanced skills. The program is currently made up of 24 students, with 18 receiving scholarships. “The Honors Program will provide a college experience geared towards motivated and skilled students,” said Andrew Olson, English instructor and program director. “The learning approaches and environment in honors courses will allow students the room to inquire, research, create, and think critically about course concepts and material in a way traditional non-honors courses may not. Students will not only work closely with peers, but with committed faculty as well.”

Along with enrollment in honors level courses, students in the program will engage in civic opportunities and have the chance to develop their academic mettle alongside other high-performing students. Currently, NEO provides two honors-only courses in Freshman Composition II and Introduction to Philosophy and is viewing proposals for new courses to be offered in the fall of 2018. Students can also enter into honors contracts with instructors in traditional non-honors courses. For freshman pre-engineering major Kara Jarvis, that means using engineering skills to create a Rube Goldberg Machine. “I’ll be designing the machine with five of the main concepts we will learn in Engineering Physics,” said Jarvis. “I’ll present the project to the class and write a report including all the calculations that were used to make it. This is a fun project, because it’s hands on and includes a wide variety of elements. Thanks to this project, I believe I will gain a understanding of physics applied to real-world scenarios.”

The honors contracts not only improve the educational experience of the students, but also the instructors creating the contracts. Alisen Anderson is an Agriculture Faculty who has developed honors contracts that support NEO’s first undergraduate research project in Winter Wheat cultivation. “The honors contract project works in conjunction with an existing joint Grand River Dam Authority/NEO research project that is taking place. Honors students in my Introduction to Plant and Soil Systems course will analyze and evaluate four different seeding rates for the crop and my honors student in my Fundamentals of Soil Science course will conduct applied fertilizer analysis.”

For more information about the program, contact Director Andrew Olson at Andrew.Olson@neo.edu or Assistant Director Keeley Adams at Keeley.Adams@neo.edu. (Photo from left to right: Director Andrew Olson; Nicholas Hughlett; Dulcinea Wenzel; Nathan Jordan; Allison Carson; Kristi Roach; Erin Dell; AnElizabeth Henry; Kara Jarvis; Amber Oerly; Jordyn Miller; Hannah Jenkins; Albana Baftiri; Tyler Bottorff; Samantha House; Jade Dalton; Assistant Director Keeley Adams.)

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