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Getting to Know the University Honors Fellows

Current Honors Program Fellows reflect on their experiences, while sharing their roles and responsibilities within the UHP community.

The Honors Fellow staff pose in the UHP Library in Clark Hall with their supervisor, Assistant Director Anne Auten.
The Honors Fellow staff pose in the UHP Library in Clark Hall with their supervisor, Assistant Director Anne Auten.

The Honors Fellows are a select group of University Honors Program (UHP) students that serve as peer leaders and mentors for students in first-year Honors Seminars.

The Fellows are responsible for planning and leading community-building activities that accompany the curriculum being taught in their assigned seminars. These activities invite younger UHP students to build community within the program, apply their curiosity to hands-on issues relating to what they are learning in class and cultivate humility as they contemplate their worldviews.

The Fellows are peer leaders who continuously strive to challenge themselves and other UHP students to think critically. As part of their responsibilities, Fellows are asked to lead discussions in Honors Seminars, and be intentional about engaging all students.

Senior Ashley Lamb, who is majoring in Polymer and Color Chemistry and Biological Sciences, has done a remarkable job of taking on this role, saying, “Something hard for me is being firm and assertive, and I have found a new confidence in navigating difficult situations through this, as well as facilitation of critical thinking for others to meet UHP goals.”

Outside of the classroom, the Fellows develop and facilitate co-curricular activities that engage UHP students in applying discussions from their seminar. Issac Paolino, a Biomedical Engineering student, shared that students in his seminar have been united by these activities. He said “The first few co-curricular events really brought the class together, and people started to come out of their shells.”

HON 296, “Defining Sustainability,” students stand behind the many pounds of sweet potatoes they gleaned during an outside-of-class activity coordinated for them by their Honors Fellow, Isaac Paolino.

One event that Paolino led for HON 296, “Defining Sustainability: World Peace,” involved getting hands-on experience at a local sweet potato farm.

Of the event, this dedicated Fellow shared, “Yam Jam was super fun! We went to glean sweet potatoes that weren’t picked up by machines. All of the students were super excited for the trip, and when they get excited, I get excited.”

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from a farmer’s fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. Yam Jam is The Society of St. Andrew’s annual sweet potato gleaning, spanning six weekends across September and October. Last year, more than 300,000 pounds of sweet potatoes were gleaned and donated to food pantries across central North Carolina!

Paolino’s enthusiasm is collective among Fellows, regardless of the discipline a given seminar is focused on. This is demonstrated by Fellow Hannah Jackson, who seized the opportunity to plan a co-curricular activity at the University Theatre for HON 295, “Storytelling for Social Change.”

In every seminar for which a Fellow is assigned, it is evident that they are focused on crafting a supportive and joyful experience for first-year UHP students. A core focus of this experience is building a community that everyone can relish in, as shared by Fellow Olive Rugani, who said, “As the semester has gone on, it’s also been particularly rewarding to see friendships develop between my students.”

The Fellows are expected to exhibit positive role modeling through academic excellence, an appreciation for diversity and personal example. This is demonstrated by many Fellows in the form of enthusiasm for being a contributor to the UHP community.

Natalie Reese shared what being a Fellow means to her, saying, “I have met some of the most amazing people in this community, and I really enjoy providing the space for others to join.”

The ability of Fellows to empathize with first-year students and build lasting connections is a common theme, with Ryley Fallon reflecting on her own Honors Seminars, saying, “As a student, my seminars were so impactful in me discovering who I am and how I can contribute positively to the world. Creating that experience for others through being a Fellow is my goal!”

Fellows are advocates for first-year students, often finding ways to ease the transition from high school to college.

When reflecting on assisting with her Honors Seminar, Jackson shared, “Students see me as someone that is one of them, but also knowledgeable about the Honors Program and life at NC State in general. It really makes me feel like that bridge between the professor and students.”

As official employees of the University Honors Program, the Fellows have the opportunity to enhance their professional development. Their responsibilities include regularly meeting with their Honors Seminar instructor, attending staff meetings, attending training sessions, assisting with University functions, scheduling activities with their students and promptly communicating with their students, UHP staff, colleagues and supervisors.

The Fellows typically accomplish this goal by working 5-8 hours per week while maintaining a 3.25 GPA. They must have already completed two semesters in the Honors Program, as well as at least one Honors Seminar. Fellows are compensated, receiving a stipend of $1,250 dollars per semester. In addition, they can also count being an Honors Fellow as a high-impact experience.

The application to become an Honors Fellow for the following academic year is typically due in December, however there is not always an anticipated vacancy to fill. For more information, contact Anne Auten, University Honors Program Assistant Director, at