Tag Archives: Honors classes

Bidding AC Adieu

By David Do

David Do          It feels strange to be looking back at Amarillo College. AC is no longer my school, but a stepping stone towards my future. I remember my first day at AC–I was driving around all the different parking lots for fifteen minutes looking for a parking spot, before I eventually parked on Wolflin Avenue and walked ten minutes to my first class. I remember wondering if I had made the right decision in choosing AC. Little did I know that AC would take me leaps and bounds ahead of where I would have been had I decided to begin my education at a university.

My first involvement with extracurricular activities at AC was through the Presidential Scholars Program. Whether it was setting up the table for Fall Fest and Badgerama or organizing Honors Expo and community service projects, the Scholars Program forced me to get involved. I also attended every event that was offered–from ballet and opera to hikes in the canyon. These activities also prompted me to learn time management—something I had not really needed to deal with prior to college. Along with learning some important life lessons, I was also making connections with my fellow scholars in a way that I had never done before. In the past, I had always been the quiet kid and, although I had friends in high school, I never really became too close with them. At AC, I made real connections with the Scholars and felt like I belonged in that community–in that family.

My involvement in Scholars inspired me to become active with Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the national two-year college honors society, and interview for (and accept) a position in the Blue Blazers—a group of students hired to serve as college ambassadors. I also decided to join the AC Student Government Association and became the treasurer and interim Vice President of Service for PTK. That was when I experienced firsthand the definition of “busy.” If that weren’t enough, I began working as a tutor, so I was on campus from eight in the morning until at least eight at night, sometimes even later. Despite my busy schedule, I enjoyed what I did. I was on campus, making a difference, enriching people’s lives. I tried reaching out to anyone I could and AC gave me the freedom to do so.

As a second year member of the Presidential Scholars, I began to fully assume my new position in the group as a mentor and I started to notice that people stopped to listen whenever I talked. That was something new for me. I had never had listeners when I talked–mostly because I didn’t talk much to begin with. Now I found myself being more outspoken and began stepping up as a leader, especially after attending a student leadership retreat.

That November, I ran into some family trouble that hit me pretty hard. I couldn’t focus on anything I was doing and people noticed. I started opening up to others and realized that I had built myself a support system here at AC. I wasn’t alone. I had people on my side who would help me get through anything. That level of support inspired me to do the same for others and motivated my outreach efforts. It wasn’t until that difficult moment that I really began to branch out and reach out to others to enhance their AC experience. I started working harder for each club and even joined another one, Mu Alpha Theta Math Honors Society (MATH). I realized I was now doing for others what others had done for me.

During my time at AC, I traveled with the college to Dallas, Fort Worth, Nepal, India, Waco and Washington DC. I won several awards including Who’s Who among Students in American Universities & Colleges, Coca Cola Gold Scholar, the Campus Life award and my inclusion in PTK’s Division II District I Hall of Honor. I conducted research, attended and presented at conferences and workshops and participated in several leadership retreats. Those opportunities and honors would not have been possible without the support of the family that I surrounded myself with at AC. When I felt like giving up, their never-wavering belief in me and inspirational stories kept me going and drove me on to success. When I felt like dropping everything, they made me see the benefits of working hard and making it through to the end. Their continual support lifted me up when I was down and made me a better person, both professionally and personally.

Attending Amarillo College was the best decision of my life. I was kept busy, but I loved every minute of it. If I could go back, I would do it all over again. I will cherish all the memories that I have made with my AC family as I move forward in my college career.

David graduated in May 2016 with a degree in physics and will continue his studies at Texas Tech. This summer he was chosen to participate in NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars program at the Johnson Space Center.


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.

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!

Being Alive or Simply Living

A reflection on the recent Presidential Scholars’ excursion by biology major Amy Bannavong.

10806334_799900013429607_8124980957558481220_n       Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony,” and from our recent trip to India and Nepal, I have found the true meaning of his words. Prior to the trip I thought that I had the short end of the stick of life: growing up in poverty on the north side of Amarillo was, in my opinion, rock bottom. I never had the childhood that most kids had; everything from clothing to toys were hand-me-downs from relatives and my mother worked from paycheck to paycheck six days a week so I never saw her as much as I wanted to. Life was rough for my family and I, or so I thought.

When we set out on our trip I had no expectations: I wanted to go in with an open mind. It didn’t take a full day in Nepal for me to realize that I have been eternally selfish my entire life. The difference of how children are raised in India and Nepal as compared to in the United States is as different as fire and ice. Growing up I always had a roof over my head, clothes on my backs, and the comfort of knowing that food will always be in my stomach–children in India and Nepal however, do not have that satisfaction. I had never seen so many men, women, and children out on the streets before, yet these individuals seemed to be more tranquil and happy than any wealthy person in the U.S. Material goods did not mean anything to them as it does for us.

There were many things that impacted my life while our time overseas: experiencing another religion, learning about different historical monuments, and experiencing unique foods; however, I feel the most valuable thing I learned over there was how to live. I have everything in the world compared to most individuals over there, yet, why are they so much happier than I am? In Nepal we went to an Ashram where this one individual, Swami Ji, gave everything up in order to buy land and take in orphans and help them survive when everyone has given up on them. Why? He simply felt like it was the right thing to do, to help others. His way of living is also astonishing. Here, every child’s brain is branded with the fact that we need to plan our lives… we need to make the choices that would give us a bright future. By doing this, we are so worried about what is going to happen in the future, we forget about what is happening right now. Swami Ji taught me that although planning is important, it shouldn’t be stressed. The one thing that I will value the most for the rest of my life is that there is a difference between being alive and living.

Honors Biology Class Sees Science in Action

Biology I for Majors taught by Susan Burgoon recently took a field trip to the BSA Hospital clinical laboratory. Here are some students’ comments about the visit:

“Wow, where to begin? My favorite thing was the robotic testing machine. It took up almost the entire lab! I also found the microlab fascinating. I learned that what we do in class will be what we do in the ‘real’ world. Everything we do in class was put into action on a daily basis here.” Katie Hack, biology major

“I’ve never been in a setting like the blood lab at BSA. It was fascinating to see all of the high-tech machinery performing tests on the countless vials of blood. I learned that there are many roles that lab technicians and other scientists must perform in testing blood. The blood lab seemed like a fascinating place to work. I personally appreciated realizing that there are so many ways to diagnose diseases and that by testing at the molecular level we can hopefully find the root cause of those diseases. This knowledge will help prepare me for a successful career in allied health.” Lauren Coward, biology major

“I learned all sorts of new and interesting information, especially about blood samples and bacteria. I have been in the hospital numerous times and have had blood drawn numerous times and never understood the process until now. Technology plays a major part in the lab—even more than I imagined.”  Niki Brown, biology major

Later this semester, this Honors Biology 1 class plans to tour the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic lab and the pathology lab. They are also reading and discussing Richard Preston’s book, The Hot Zone, which is about Ebola, and working on individual career plans that include job shadows.