Tag Archives: Honors

Program opens door to the possible

By TAYLOR GRAY, biology major:

Taylor poses
Taylor Gray with the Japan excursion tour guide Yumi.

Over the past year, the Presidential Scholars program at Amarillo College has been quite the learning experience. Personally, I can recall the very first day of this prestigious program. On top of being extremely nervous for what to expect for my first semester of college, I was even more anxious to see what type of program I really signed up for. Little did I know, the projects I would undertake, the people I would meet, the places I would go, and the friendships I would create would go on to be some of the most memorable moments of my college life.

The first semester started off quickly. Within two weeks of knowing my fellow students and professors, an intense but helpful leadership retreat took place. This retreat was a very powerful interaction that taught us how to lead as well as how to work as a team. Immediately after this experience, the real activities began. Group lunches, out of class events, and even a trip to Dallas improved our teamwork skills. All of these experiences brought us closer together, but nothing would top the life changing experience of getting to travel thousands of miles to the country of Japan.

When I found out I had the possibility of traveling to Japan, I was beyond ecstatic. Japan has always been one of the countries I had always wanted to travel to. During this gigantic excursion, I experienced new cultures, religions, lifestyles, and food. Something that I took away from this trip was how fortunate I was to get to experience this firsthand. I understood that not all students my age had the luxury of traveling to such a breathtaking country like this. When I was a child, I used to imagine Japan as a faraway land that I would never have the pleasure of exploring. I thought reaching it was impossible.  The overall experience of traveling to a country like this broke my thoughts of the impossible and opened a new door to the possible. This trip was truly a trip of a lifetime, and I am extremely grateful for that opportunity.

The second semester came and went by even quicker. We came back to start the spring semester without a second to waste. More group projects and lunches with community mentors piled up as we returned to our project groups. The biggest challenge this semester by far was our giant research project. This project called for the Scholars to pick a topic related to their majors and write a 10 page research paper about it. This research would then be presented at the annual West Texas A&M research conference in front of judges who would give their us their critiques and feedback.  This task was very challenging, but in the end I felt as if my research and presentation skills were polished again once more.

The Presidential Scholars program has done so much good for me as well as my peers. The opportunities that stem from this program are truly amazing. I have learned so much and am eager to share my experiences with the open world. I would encourage this program to anyone who is fortunate enough to get the chance.


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!

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.

A Glimpse Inside an AC Honors Class

by Jeff Balash, computer science engineering major

Honors classes have a bad reputation in the minds of most college students. Unfortunately they are rumored to be more difficult and assign more work than regular classes. I think this misunderstanding comes from college students equating honors classes to the Advanced Placement (AP) classes they either heard about or experienced in high school. I was guilty of this myself before experiencing honors classes first hand: after a few weeks, my false perceptions had faded away.

Taking an honors class has been a big departure from my AP classes of high school. The main difference is that honors classes are simply not AP classes at all. You are not handed busy work when you walk into the room, but instead engage with the class. For example,  in my honors composition class we usually start off with a discussion about the projects we have been assigned or the books we have been reading. The teacher uses class time effectively to explain the material and make sure that the students understand it. The work that we are assigned in class is meant to help us understand and help us with the bigger projects we are assigned. Also, most of the lecturing is actually done online and at our own pace. There is no worrying if you may have missed something like you would in an AP lecture. The material you are given to read does not waste your time. It is clear and to the point and helps us to understand the bigger picture of the class.

Overcrowding is an issue that can happen in AP classes, but in honors courses the class size is usually smaller. My honors composition class only has seven people in it and my pubic speaking class only has nineteen members in it. The small group size allows me to get to know my classmates a lot better and I get more one on one help from the instructor. The smaller sizes help to make students not feel like just a face in a crowd or a number on a roll sheet. The students in the course are also more willing to help one another out and there is more of a sense of camaraderie that comes from the smaller number of students.

I understand that all of us are just trying to survive college and get all of our assignments done, but don’t let a misinformed fear keep you from obtaining a worthwhile experience from college. While honors classes may seem scary, I can honestly say that being in an honors class has been one of the best decisions I have made. You don’t have to be a Sheldon Cooper to get in on this great opportunity.

Striving for Success by Stephanie Mendoza

Stephanie Mendoza is a second-year Presidential Scholar who is majoring in education.

Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible.’” When I graduated from Palo Duro High School, I knew my family wasn’t going to be able to afford my schooling, so I had to do all that I could to find scholarships. This would allow me to go on and be the first one in my family to attend college. Thankfully, I had amazing counselors and teachers who lifted the weight off of my shoulders and guided me through until I finally received my acceptance letter from the Presidential Scholars Program. Through the program, I have learned many things. If I were to pick three lessons that have helped me the most in life, they would be the importance of serving my community, the need to be professional and responsible in all circumstances, and time management.
I had a remarkable experience on my excursion to Cambodia, where I was able to learn about the country and serve the villages by helping prepare water filtration devices. Cambodia is a developing country facing the serious issue of an inadequate clean water supply. This leads to many diseases and even death. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to help with this situation in Cambodia; however, we the community must understand that we have similar issues in the Panhandle concerning water conservation. I am now aware that I can make a difference here in my community with issues such as house fires, shelter, education, and even recycling.
I have also learned that, in order to succeed, I must have a good attitude and look presentable. Being in the Presidential Scholars Program has helped me refine my wardrobe. I’ve noticed the dramatic difference it makes when you dress business casual for an interview or an important gathering. I am still in the process of learning how to dress for certain occasions.    Time management, has been and still continues to be a struggle for me. Luckily, Amarillo College has many resources that have helped. Having homework and working and still having to be responsible for school activities and events was very difficult and stressful at the beginning at the year. Fortunately, the Presidential Scholars program collaborated with the AC Career Center to offer time management workshops, which helped me learn strategies that made school and life feel less hectic.
My experience with the program has been an unforgettable adventure in my college career. I thank the amazing professors who have guided me and my fellow students. I know now that I am a Presidential Scholar and I can overcome any task because, like Hepburn said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible.’”