Scholars program provides influential freshman year

Tiffany in the Old Town of Warsaw, Poland on the Scholars trip.

It seems strange to be reflecting on my experience at Amarillo College and saying farewell, because I’ve really only started my experience at AC…

Throughout high school, I was always pushed to get ahead as much as I could and earn
as many credits as possible before I got to college. I ended up earning enough credits to enter college as a sophomore for my degree plan. My name is Tiffany, and I will be graduating with my Associates in General Studies not long after turning 19 years old.As awesome as it sounds, it also means I had to give up an entire year of studying at AC, because I would be graduating a year earlier than most students, who spend about two years at AC. It’s certainly not that I’m against graduating (especially early), I will just miss the Amarillo College experience…especially my AC Presidential Scholars experience. But before I pour my heart and soul out about how amazing AC is, I should probably mention that I didn’t always like the idea of attending Amarillo College. In fact, I dreaded the thought!

I had always thought of AC as an easy, mediocre community college for those who “weren’t smart enough” or couldn’t afford a university. All of my friends were moving away to Austin or Lubbock, and I wanted to go too. I wanted to live in a dorm and take sophisticated classes. Looking back, I sure was naive. Sure I was sort of pushed into going to AC, but I think it’s because that’s what I really needed. I have no regrets. Amarillo College wasn’t a joke at all. I was met with challenging courses and engaging peers. I adapted to college life rather quickly and AC grew on me. I think it really helped to be a part of Presidential Scholars.

Oh, where do I even begin with the Scholars… they’re my friends, no, my family. We have collaborated on projects, solved problems, helped the community and traveled overseas together. The fact that I got to go to Lithuania and Poland with them is beyond phenomenal! I’ve laughed with them and I’ve cried with them. We hold each other up if we feel like we’re falling. I’ve met some wonderful, beautiful people through this program. I’ve made lifetime friends and I’ve learned to love people I would have never met had I gone to a university first. It’s only been a year yet it almost feels like a lifetime.

I think one of the greatest things the Presidential Scholars program has done for me is helped me to feel comfortable in my own skin and really come out of my shell. I could be myself, because we were all human and we could all relate to the struggles of adolescence and college stress. I have no problem speaking my mind and pitching ideas now. I enjoy talking to large groups of people about things that I’m excited and passionate about. I look forward to trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone. I will carry these things with me for the rest of my journey through life, as I’m sure all of us will. I couldn’t have asked for a better school or a better group of people to share my first year college experience with.

As much as it pains me to leave it all behind after only one year, I am excited to see where the road will take me next. It feels good to be able to graduate with a lot of my second year friends and I look forward to watching everyone’s story unfold. I’m definitely going to miss the comfort of AC, but I know it’s time to step out of that comfort zone once again and live life from a new perspective. I just hope there are plenty of squirrels at WT!

If college is an ocean…

kimberby Kimber Willburn, pre-nursing major.

When you’re in high school, the teachers try to convince you that when you go to college no one will care about you and that you will get lost in the big ocean they call college. I was worried about going to college and I thought it would be the most challenging experience… and that I would get eaten by the sharks you call professors instead of teachers.
I am lucky to be a part of Presidential Scholars and Honors because, instead of being lost in the ocean, I have a life boat of friends that are in the same situation as I am. I thought that being in honors courses would be just like being in AP classes in high school but the two are not alike. Being in honors courses is like being with the same type of fish–everyone wants to do well. Being in an honors course we get to choose the things we learn and everyone wants to learn. Honors professors know that the students in the class are good students and they want us to succeed. I am so glad I made the choice to be in honors courses and Presidential Scholars.
Being a part of Presidential Scholars has made going from high school to college less stressful and a much easier experience. In Scholars I always have a place to go and ask questions and get support from friends and professors who understand what I am going through and want to help me. I have made life long friends who I know I can count on because we all want to see each other succeed. Through my experiences so far I’ve learned how to go out of my comfort zone and ask for help when I need it and if I don’t find the answer the first time to keep searching. People want to help you but you have to take the initiative.
So the misconceptions about college are wrong. People do care about you and it’s not designed to make you fail. The issue is not whether the college staff cares about you, it’s  whether you care about college. College is an ocean with lots of fish but there may be a reason groups of fish are called ‘schools’.  If you find a group to stick together with then you won’t get lost. Instead you will swim on to new adventures as a proud member of your school.

Giving thanks for a new type of family

–by Ashley Kirkwood, nursing major
Ashley     Friends are family that we choose to have in our lives. They’re the ones that see our full potential when we don’t always seem to see it ourselves. They give us the courage to keep going and positive energy to strive for greatness. 
When I first thought of what Presidential Scholars truly meant, I didn’t quite see this vision. I thought it would be very challenging, and I knew the program was full of individuals who had the same perseverance and dedication as I did, but I could have ever thought I would relate to these individuals as being family to me. This was because I couldn’t imagine my being as close to each of these amazing individuals as I am now.
     When I walked on to the Amarillo College campus,I was quite nervous, and I had the new freshman appearance that I’m sure a multitude of other freshmen had as well. However, when I walked into the Presidential Scholars
class, I felt a sense of welcoming, along with several other people who were just like me. Little did I know at that time that these people and instructors would become more then friends but
also family to me.
     I often look forward to attending my Presidential Scholar classes because my classmates  make my stress diminish because they make the class so full of life and are always there to have a helping hand
because they’re going through the same things as I am in college. Presidential Scholars has also given me the courage to step out of my comfort zone by getting involved in various clubs and
being a part of social events at Amarillo College.The Presidential Scholars Programs truly sees the full potential in each and every single student, even when the student doesn’t always see it himself or herself.
     Within this short amount of time, Presidential Scholars Program has shaped me to have the drive to be someone successful and also an individual who always wants to help others in any way possible. I didn’t just choose the Presidential Scholars Program to be a part of my family; Presidential Scholars chose me to be a part of theirs.

The unexpected benefits of starting at AC

–by Presidential Scholar and chemistry major Caleb Prestwood

12074626_187382034933768_6094987649695592569_nTo be completely honest, attending Amarillo College this year was never a part of my original college plan. I never planned to attend Amarillo College, but looking back and taking everything into perspective, both Amarillo College and the Presidential Scholars Honors Program have allowed me to meet so many great new friends and has opened so many doors for my future.

The Amarillo College Presidential Scholars Program is a close community of individuals who share their passion for higher education and represent Amarillo College’s top students. However, I don’t see them as this, I see them as my friends. By being involved in the Presidential Scholars Honors Program, we are constantly busy participating in luncheons, volunteer work, presentations, educational travel opportunities, and much, much more. All these events consume our schedules and constantly keep us busy. But all these events, and all the hard work required of a Presidential Scholar, have brought me closer to some of the greatest people I’m proud to call my friends. We all have classes together, study together, struggle together, and survive college together, as friends. Some of us may be super outgoing, shy, adventurous, musically talented, athletic, intellectual beyond belief, leaders, or even computer geeks, but at the end of the day, we are a family of scholars bonded by our unique qualities. All of us scholars come from totally different backgrounds and have endeavored several difficulties, and getting to become friends with these awesome people, is so humbling.

Along with all the amazing new people I have met, I have also had so many doors open up for my future that I never would have thought possible. When I applied to colleges last fall, in high school, I was mailed an invitation to apply to Baylor University because of my academic accomplishments. So, I applied and was accepted but never seriously considered Baylor because of the steep price of tuition.

Though I was already going to Amarillo College, I decided to look into Baylor University as a potential transfer option. As I researched more, I began to realize all the scholarship opportunities that were offered to me because I was a Presidential Scholar. I learned that I could attend one of Texas’ top private universities for a fraction of the original tuition cost, something I never would have dreamed possible without the Presidential Scholars Honors Program. After visiting Baylor and going to a football game, I knew it was the place for me. Getting to transfer to Baylor never would have been possible without me being a part of the Presidential Scholars.

Amarillo College was never a part of my original college plan. Looking back, however, at all the awesome people I’ve met, all the friendships I’ve found, and all the doors that have opened in my future because of my participation in the Presidential Scholars Honors Program, I couldn’t imagine my college career without Amarillo College.

People who dream and do things

Karen Rivas–by Karen Rivas, secondary education major–
My first year in Amarillo College’s Presidential Scholar Honors program has been one that has exceeded my expectations, and I’m barely in the beginning of it all. I was ecstatic for the opportunity to be a part of a program that challenges its members to be better students, in the classroom and out into the community. One of my fears about joining the program was that I would be immersed into this hardcore curriculum where I was completely alone with mountains of assignments. There are still challenges, and sometimes higher standards, such a radio project in my Public Speaking class that will allow me to speak live on the radio to the entire Panhandle, but the work is nothing that proper time management and dedication can’t handle.
It reminds me of a quote Amy Poehler, famous actress and my favorite comedian, once said: “I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people any more that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.” And that is exactly the kind of people you see in AC’s Presidential Scholars program.


New Presidential Scholar shares reflections on his first few weeks of classes

by Giovanni Centeno, pre-physical therapy major
“My biggest fear of going to college was how I was going to adapt to the transition from high school. I had a slight idea of what to expect, but I was still nervous about how I was going to fit in. Fortunately, from the first day of class, I knew that it was going to be a good year. The professors are absolutely passionate about what they do. They bring excitement and energy to class every day. The classrooms are smaller and interactive, which allows us to get to know each other on a personal basis and build lifelong friendships. Being in this program teaches you many necessary skills needed in everyday life. Organizational skills, communication skills, and critical thinking skills are a few that we’ve gained already.

Being in this program has allowed me to expand my ability to learn and interact with others. I’ve already made friends that I believe will be there 10 years down the road. The experience has just begun and it has been the best year of school I’ve ever had. I am looking forward to the many more memories that I will create.”

Honors classes have made my life easier!


by Citlaly Zamarripa, pre-physician assistant major

Most college students would say that taking honors classes is only going to make college harder for them. The funny thing about this is that all of the students making those statements, have never taken an honors class. Most college students also have very stressful, busy lives. So why are so many overlooking an opportunity to make their college experience easier? Like many, I have a lot on my plate this semester, but I have not had a single “procrastination meltdown” or had to pull an “all-nighter” to complete an assignment. Taking honors courses and being part of the Presidential Scholars Honors program has truly lightened my load this semester by integrating me into a group of students that are just as focused and determined as I am, allowing me the opportunity to have amazing professors, and giving my college experience a deeper purpose.

One of the greatest things about the Presidential Scholars program is that my stress level has been lowered substantially. You are free to take in everything there is to learn because there is no intimidation in the classroom from professors or classmates. In fact, you become so close to your classmates and professors that you have the extra confidence to reach out for help from any of them if you are struggling. Also, I never need to worry about being let down by my classmates in a group project because they are responsible and can relate to the pressure that these projects can cause.

The professors help create a fun and energetic class for everyone. They also open the door for a much higher level of discussion, which in turn has allowed me to learn so much more. It is so easy to feel passionate about a subject when everyone else is equally involved.

Because the Presidential Scholars is also a serving community group, I have the privilege to be part of eye-opening experiences year round, including an international trip to Lithuania in January. I can already feel myself branching out of my comfort zone, and appreciating every opportunity to serve. Also, it is empowering to know that you are a leader in your school. This has helped motivate me to become a better educated person who truly cares about others around them. The program is continuously pushing me to get the most out of my experience as a college student.

As you can see, taking honors classes will not complicate your life, it will not overload you with any more than regular classes do, and it is certainly not boring. I encourage everyone to take an honors class to make your life easier!

the digital newsletter of the Amarillo College Honors and Presidential Scholars Programs