Senior Honors Student Spotlight Features
Nolan Wiley: When Nolan Wiley (featured center in the photo above), a political science major from Orange, Ohio, found out that he would have enough credits to graduate in three years, he had several meetings with honors advisors who helped him figure out what to do next while still getting the most out of Honors College programs. “They were a constant resource for me in that way,” he says. Like Abigail and other students in our 'Student Spotlight Features', Nolan says his honors classes were more intimate and gave him the opportunity to get a lot more out of the material than he would have in a traditional lecture class. Many of the interactions and experiences he’s had as an honors student have been more collaborative, and he felt like the responsibility was more firmly on him for his education, which will be “essential” as he continues on to study law. Nolan says that, through the opportunity to complete a senior thesis, he has learned a lot about conquering a long-term project and overcoming mistakes so that he won’t repeat them later. For the remainder of his time at Kent State, Nolan looks forward to defending his senior thesis and completing his senior seminar in American politics before he moves to Columbus and starts classes at the Ohio State University Moritz School of Law this coming fall.
Jessica Keller: Jessica Keller, an integrated language arts major, plans to finish her student teaching and publish her senior honors thesis before returning to her hometown of Waterville, Ohio, after graduation, to start her job search and eventually have her own language arts classroom. Jessica says that having a second academic advisor through the Honors College provided additional support for her to achieve her goals throughout her college career. Jessica is a first-generation college student, and she says that having an additional advisor as a resource really helped her. Jessica’s first honors advisor was Ólöf Thórdardóttir before she became Lauren Huffman’s advisee; each of these advisors also worked with Alpha Lambda Delta, the national honors society for first-year success students, of which Jessica served as president. She says both Ólöf and Lauren helped her out greatly, and that connection also made things work smoothly.
When asked about her favorite opportunities that she’s had at Kent State, Jessica spoke highly of her experience completing a senior honors thesis for which she studied different techniques used to teach Shakespeare. Jessica also had the unique opportunity as part of a class project agreement to plan a field trip, including a poetry walk, for a group of eighth-grade students. She and one of her classmates worked with these students for field experience, teaching them different lessons once per week, and they also collaborated with the teachers in the classroom to create activities for them. Jessica said another honors student had done a similar class project agreement the year before, and she was happy to take the previous student’s work and build upon it. Jessica thinks that her experience researching different teaching strategies as well as her hands-on experience will help her determine what her future students need in the classroom.
Jara Chadwell: After graduation, nursing student Jara Chadwell will take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in order to obtain her nursing license; she also will begin working on the neurology floor of the Cleveland Clinic. For honors students studying nursing, one credit hour of individual honors work is automatically added to each nursing course, which students can use either to perform their own research or to assist researchers with their work. Jara and another student used this extra work opportunity to conduct an extensive review of literature and create a poster presentation, which they presented at the Midwest Nursing Research Society Conference as well as at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at Kent State. The researcher with whom Jara and her classmate worked used their literature review as background for the research she conducted, so the students were included as coauthors. Jara imagines that the knowledge and connections she acquired as a student of the Honors College will assist her when she decides to continue her education, as she plans to obtain a graduate degree in the future.
Lilia Borodkin: Psychology major Lilia Borodkin plans to end her senior year by working hard to finish her classes and to graduate. She is applying to the graduate program in school psychology at Kent State, for which she will interview in July and, if accepted, will start in August. The Solon, Ohio native says that her honors courses provided her with different hands-on opportunities to learn and gain work experience. One of these opportunities was to participate in a national essay contest, of which she was the University Winner. She had the chance to work with a professional editor and eventually had her essay published in YES!Magazine. Through her educational psychology course, she and some of her classmates created a lesson plan that has been implemented by the Cleveland Museum of National History. She knows that the unique opportunities and projects she has been involved in, such as her work with the Cleveland Museum of National History, have prepared her for graduate school and especially prepared her to work on lesson plans, a crucial aspect of school psychology.
Abigail Winternitz: Abigail Winternitz, a public relations major with a public health minor, plans to finish her last semester by maintaining her grades and finish strong. After graduation, she will either move back to her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio or move to Columbus, where her sister lives, and search for jobs in public health. She says that being a student of the Honors College benefited her in many ways, from priority registration to smaller class sizes that provided more opportunities for better discussion. She believes the analytical skills she has honed through those courses will definitely assist her in her professional career. When Abigail was a junior, she participated in the Public Relations Student Society of America’s Bateman Case Study Competition, a competition for public relations students across the country for which they apply what they have learned to create and implement a public relations campaign. Abigail’s project won second place in the nation, and she traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to present at the national competition. She says this was one of the most rewarding experiences she had during her time as a Kent State student.
Ya’el Courtney: Ya’el Courtney will start graduate school at Harvard University, following her completion of her undergraduate degree in biology. Ya’el says that writing and defending a thesis as an undergraduate has been an important process. It was helpful to be able to talk about that research, which involves a novel characterization of where a hormone in the brain is produced versus distributed, in her graduate school interviews. One lesson she learned throughout her time at Kent State was that more professors were very willing to help her if she asked, which is a valuable piece of advice to leave with continuing students. Ya’el says that presenting research at a conference in San Diego is her favorite experience that she had during her time at Kent State.
Sarah Ballard: Sarah Ballard, who has a double major in criminology and justice studies and sociology, will return to her hometown of Rochester, New York, after graduation, where multiple opportunities await her. She will work as a substitute teacher’s aide for about a month at a local high school, then work as a female resident assistant at a summer program for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth while also packing and preparing to depart for Morocco with the Peace Corps in early September. Sarah says that her honors advisors helped keep her on track through required advising, and that her advisors cared about the specific track that she was on to complete her degree. Ólöf Thórdardóttir was her first honors advisor, and Sarah felt like Ólöf was always interested in what she was doing; when she transitioned to being Lauren Huffman’s advisee, she felt the same way. The emails from the Honors College helped keep her updated, and she says the Honors College library was always a productive space for her.
Sarah enjoyed working on events as a resident assistant in Stopher-Johnson. She also says that the networking connections she has made and the relationships she has formed with other members of the staff exemplify what she should aim for those relationships to be in the future. The standards that the Honors College has for both students and their work have helped her succeed, and she will keep them in mind as a model for the future. Additionally, Sarah liked helping to integrate new students into the Honors College and Kent communities as well as being on the executive board of Alpha Lambda Delta.