By Niki Peters, COM 250 Reporter
Edited by Caroline Cleland, COM 303 Editor
MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – The Berry College Honors Program offers advanced, unique education opportunities for a select group of students.
Through this program, students access honors-specific study abroad trips, classes, leadership and service. After students are accepted into Berry College, the Honors Committee invites them to apply to the Honors Program. The committee consists of Honors Program Director Lauren Heller and Honors Program Assistant Director Coleman Fannin. The Honors Program accepts about 10% of the incoming first-year class.
Heller described the Honors Program as a liberal arts school on steroids.
“The Honors Program is not necessarily more work, but it’s different work,” Heller said.
Students in the program must maintain above a 3.0 GPA, take Honors courses, and ultimately create a thesis. There are 19 credit hours required to complete the Honors Program. Those hours consist of the Honors core curriculum, Honors thesis courses, and electives that differ each semester.
Coleman Fannin described how the Honors Program has grown over the past years.
“Years ago, on average 10 students completed the program.” Fannin said. “In recent years, this number has grown to around 30-40 students. The finishing rate of students has grown about three times more than what it used to be as students are getting to the thesis phase and realizing that they can do it.”
The Honors thesis is a student-led research project. It takes about a year to complete and differs for every student. Through the Honors thesis, students direct original scholarly work and partner with two or more faculty members to complete an original project of their choice.
Heller is a supplementary advisor for every Honors student throughout the Honors program and thesis process.
“The Honors thesis is more like engaging in undergraduate research in collaboration with a group of faculty members,” Heller said.
Elena Baker is a senior Honors student at Berry College with an environmental science major and a triple minor in dance, chemistry, and theology. Baker wanted to combine her science and dance interests for her thesis. She choreographed and filmed four dances that engage different environmental issues: wildfires, ocean tides, glaciers, and wind patterns. In Baker’s final dance video, Eric McDowell, a Berry College mathematics and computer science professor, explained each environmental science topic and its connection to Baker’s dances.
Baker talked about the anticipation she feels about finishing her year’s work.
“In the end, I am most excited to see how the end product turns out of what my thesis will be,” Baker said.