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Spring 2009 E-Newsletter

Class of 2012: The Next Generation

The Honors Convocation and Induction Ceremony was held this past September. We welcomed 85 new freshmen to the Honors Program and inducted them into the Eta Sigma Alpha honorary society. The ceremony opened with a processional of faculty, dressed in full academic regalia, and led by former Honors director Dr. Doris Moody. They were accompanied in by a processional piece played by a brass band. Several speeches were then made by members of the Eta Sigma Alpha Executive Board and Dr. Steven Elliott-Gower, the new Honors director. These speeches informed the inductees of the program's history and reputation, and of the opportunities and responsibilities that lay ahead. After the freshmen class took the Eta Sigma Alpha oath, faculty, parents, current Honors students, and Dr. John Sallstrom, the program's founder, watched the inductees receive their certificates and become official members of Eta Sigma Alpha. New Honors student Molly Holmes commented, "I really enjoyed Convocation because it made me feel good about my decision to be in the Honors Program."

Even before the first day of college, the Honors class of 2012 proved capable of carrying on the program's prestigious name. Their willingness to strive for excellence in all realms was apparent in their high school resumes. The average high school GPA for the freshmen Honors class was an impressive 3.65. The medium SAT score (for reading and math) was 1204. And, beyond the numbers, the freshmen also received several outstanding scholarships and awards including but not limited to valedictorian, AP Scholar, Georgia Certificate of Merit, Robert Byrd Scholar, Star Student, Kiwanis Memorial, and the National Honors Society Award. These awards tell not only of the freshmen's academic distinction, but also of their perseverance and drive.

Honors students are known to be well-rounded, and the freshmen clearly carry on this tradition. In high school, they excelled in the classroom and beyond, participating in many diverse extracurricular activities. They were involved in programs such as the National Honor Society and Beta Club, both of which require outstanding academic achievement, Debate Club, Yearbook, Calculus Club, National Spanish Honor Society, Chorus, and Marching Band. They also participated in athletics. Sports such as tennis, cross country, cheerleading, gymnastics, soccer, and basketball were played during high school, some at the varsity level. 

There were a variety of reasons why these students chose Georgia College. Kristin Mitchell, for example, chose Georgia College because of the family-like atmosphere. "When you walk to your classes, people smile, wave, or even start a conversation with you, which is a rarity in other places." Other Honors students mentioned the beautiful campus, class size, and the faculty's friendliness as appealing aspects. Candra Clason's explanation for why she chose Georgia College was succinct: "I like how small it is!" 

Despite the different reasons for selecting Georgia College, most of the freshmen voiced the same response for why they joined the Honors Program – to challenge themselves. This is music to Dr. Elliott-Gower's ears. "These students have worked hard and challenged themselves in high school. Now, it is our responsibility, as Honors educators, to create new and interesting opportunities that will continue to challenge them, to help them grow academically, and thus to help them achieve their longer term academic and professional goals."

With one semester under their belts, the freshmen retain their enthusiasm for the program. When asked how she liked the organization thus far, Jessica Friday said, "I love it. I enjoy being able to speak intelligently with my fellow classmates, and we all seem to share a common purpose: to advance our learning while still enjoying college life."

The Honors class of 2012 is clearly ready to embrace the opportunities before them, meet and even exceed the program's expectations and, in doing so, continue to drive upward Georgia College's overall academic reputation. 

Study Abroad: A Vital Part of a Liberal Arts Education

Believing that this generation of college students are going to live and work in a global society, the Honors Program promotes, supports and encourages various types of international education experiences: summer study abroad, semester-long exchange programs, in-country language programs, cultural immersion programs, international public service, and international internships. Our support of international education is fully consistent with the liberal arts mission of Georgia College in that an international education experience is almost a prerequisite for a full and well-rounded collegiate education in today's world. Here, we profile three Honors students' recent experiences.

Katie Ragan

Year: Junior

Major: Health Education/ Community Health and Health Services

Minor: Biology

Study Abroad Program: Belize, Summer 2008

Classes: Ecology and Introduction to Environmental Sciences, 8 credits total.

In Belize, a small country on the Caribbean coast of Central America, the program was located in two central areas for study – the town of San Ignacio and the island of Caye Caulker. Ragan and the other students enjoyed lectures on different species daily while visiting numerous archaeological and ecological sites. Ragan had the chance to visit ancient Mayan ruins at Cahal Pech and Xuanantunich, to experience cave tubing, to visit an archaeological site of excavation, to go to the Belize zoo, to play in a baboon sanctuary, and to go snorkeling in coral reefs.

"Going to Belize definitely made me want to travel and study other cultures more," said Ragan. "Our professor had a lot of connections. Our group got a lot more personal, cultural experiences than we would have gotten through any other professor."

One of the main concurrences with most students returning back from study abroad programs is the outlook that they learned a lot from the beyond-the-classroom opportunities offered them. Ragan agreed, "I would definitely say my main source of knowledge evolved from my experiences – staying in the towns and getting to know the locals. No doubt, the culture provided the greatest impact to my studies. I witnessed all the different forms a country has."

Ragan particularly enjoyed staying on Caye Caulker. The group had lecture in the morning about the species they would be looking for that afternoon as they went snorkeling. Riding a boat a few miles away from the island, they would complete two snorkels. Ragan got out of her comfort zone a lot on these excursions.  "We went night snorkeling twice. I cannot describe to you how scary it was. The ocean and the sky were pitch black. We went underwater with our partner and a flashlight- that's it." Overall, Ragan grew a lot as an individual and as a student in the numerous experiences she encountered. She recommends studying abroad to anyone interested.

Rebekah Clark

Year: Senior

Major: Spanish

Minor: Political Science

Study Abroad Program: Spain, Summer 2008

Classes: Advanced Grammar and Composition, and Special Topics: Culinary Traditions of Spain, 6 credits total.

In Spain, Rebekah Clark resided in Aviles, a town in the northern province of Austurias. While studying the Spanish language, she ventured to cathedrals in Leon and Oviedo, the beach at Salinas, the oldest university in Spain at Salamanca, mountains in Covadonga, and the medieval city of Santillana del Mar.

"While in Spain, the environment was definitely the biggest learning experience for me," said Clark. "I lived with a host family that spoke all Spanish, which was a really good opportunity to practice. Just learning another cultures habits and living with the family was very influential."

As the program was underway, Clark had the unique opportunity to witness Spain's local elections. She thought it was interesting to see how their political system worked. "In general their style of life seemed a lot more free and slower-paced than the United States," said Clark.

As she managed her classes and practiced Spanish with the locals, Clark gained a better understanding of their social patterns and cultural norms. "Probably one of the most interesting experiences I had was when they served a platter of octopus, which is considered a delicacy in Spain," said Clark. "I knew I had to try it when my professor said his 9-year-old son loved it. It was purple and really nasty-looking, but I tried it and really liked it!"

Returning home, Clark regards the program as an invaluable experience. "It was a great experience for me just to branch out and learn more about other cultures preferences," said Clark.

Daniel Shey

Year: Senior

Major: Political Science

Minor: Philosophy

Study Abroad Program: European Union, Summer 2008

Classes: Political Science and Comparative Government, 6 credits total.

While studying with the European Union, Daniel Shey traveled through France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Spain. The program enabled him the opportunity to study comparative European policies while also exploring various historic parliament buildings, the catacombs, and numerous capitals all over Europe.

"This experience made me mature a lot as an individual," said Shey. "Having to deal with politics firsthand was a good experience. I got to understand concepts of universal ethics. Most importantly, I learned that while cultures may be very different, as people we're very similar."

Many elements fascinated him while visiting country after country. He appreciated the distinct architecture, the food, and the different art. Every country had its own feel.

Overall, the program with the European Union gave Shey an opportunity to undertake hands-on observations of competing European democracies. His experience taught him lessons he could not properly expand upon while sitting in a classroom.

Honors RLC: The Road to Global Citizenship

This year, through the Honors Residential Learning Community (RLC) a group of students are exploring the meaning of global citizenship, and what it means to be a global citizenship in both thought and deed. They are striving to not only get involved in both the local and global community.

Sophomore Spanish major, Meredith Carpenter, was the group's leader in the fall. (She's now studying in Spain.) "I think this is a great opportunity for Honors students," Carpenter said. "It brings us together to learn more about the world around us and it helps us to bring about change in our world, whether it is right now or in years to come."

Although the RLC is based in Bell Hall, all Honors students have the opportunity, and indeed are encouraged, to get involved in this "learning beyond the classroom" program.

"In helping the global and local community we are becoming a stronger community within Georgia College and making the presence of the Honors Program known," Carpenter says.

The first task was to explore the concept of global citizenship. What does it mean to be a citizen in and of a global society? What does our understanding of national citizenship tell us about global citizenship? When do our identities, interests and obligations as national and global citizens collide? And what is the place of nationalism and patriotism in a global society?

In an effort to begin to explore these questions, the group met with political theorist, Dr. Hank Edmondson. The consensus that emerged from this first discussion was that global citizenship was very much an individual moral responsibility.

The Honors global citizenship RLC is being advised and supported by Honors director, Dr. Steven Elliott-Gower. "We study a select number of global issues, issues that transcend national boundaries and geographic regions to affect all of us," Elliott-Gower said. "These issues might include, but are not limited to, the environment, human rights, corporate responsibility, international development, natural resource management, public health, global migration, and globalization."

The Honors RLC works in two-year cycles, and this year the students chose to focus their efforts on women's rights, with a special focus on violence against women – an issue that includes domestic violence, rape as a weapon of war, so-called "Honor" killings, the sex trade, and other global manifestations of violence against women.

In a parallel development, some of the students involved with the Honors RLC (led by Christopher Eby) established a campus chapter of Amnesty International. Amnesty will provide the organizational vehicle to connect the students with women's rights issues (and again violence against women) on an international level, and in February, Amnesty's regional director, Laura Moye, came to campus to give a talk entitled "Global Engagement with Women's Rights."

The group has high expectations for its first year, and hopes to be able to make an impact in the Milledgeville community. Students are, for example, working with others to explore the possibility of reestablishing a battered women's shelter in Milledgeville. There has also been some discussion of participating in an international service-learning project towards the end of this two-year cycle. Such an international experience, founded on almost two years of learning and service, would truly advance the students' claim to global citizenship.  Moreover, these students would return to campus to inform and inspire the next generation of global citizens beginning their journey in the Honors RLC.

"We are exploring what is to be a global citizen and what role concepts such as nationalism and patriotism play in a global society," Elliott-Gower said. "By learning and serving, we connect the local to the global and, in doing so; we take our first steps towards global citizenship."

Dinner-Seminars: A Hunger for Knowledge

Our new dinner-seminars give Honors students an opportunity to get together with a professor to discuss a topic related to the professor's scholarship over dinner. The eight dinner-seminars offered this fall have proved to be very popular.

Depending on space, the dinner-seminars are usually open to 10-15 students. The Honors Program encourages all students to get involved over time.

History professor Steve Auerbach led the "Eurabia" dinner-seminar on immigration in France, focusing on the roughly six million Muslims that come from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisi. While opening his home as the location for the discussion, Auerbach took delight in the discussion and encouraged students to attend at least one seminar.

"The dinner-seminars are a great opportunity for Honors students to explore important and timely subjects in an informal setting," said Auerbach. "I thoroughly enjoyed hosting a dinner-seminar. The students and I had a good time exploring the subject, discussing and debating while making new friends. We all left with the sense  that it was a very worthwhile experience."

Chris Venable, an English and history major, attended "Eurabia." He agreed that the seminar was a valuable experience.

"The discussion exposed me to some pretty interesting ideas about what it means to be of a country," said Venable. "As discussions go, it jumped from topic to topic. So by the end of the evening we had covered a fairly decent span of interests.  It was an altogether fine experience."

Dr. Hank Edmondson, a political science professor, facilitated a dinner-seminar discussion on "global citizenship" with the Honors Residential Learning Community. The group discussed the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship in relation to the concept of global citizenship.

"The dinner-seminar was a great learning experience," said Edmondson, "primarily for me as I learned both from the time I spent preparing my initial remarks and especially as I learned from many of the student comments."

Other dinner-seminars included "The CIA and National Security" led by CIA legal advisor Fred Manget, "America's Financial Crisis" seminar with economist Ben Scafidi, "Poverty in the South" with political professor Veronica Womack,"Calling the Election" with political scientist Mike Digby, and "The History of Georgia College" a walk and talk with Dr. Bob Wilson, which was followed by dinner and discussion in Bell Hall.

The dinner-seminars have opened the door to some wonderful discussions beyond the classroom, encouraging students to pursue further intellectual interest into the world. Dr. Edmondson perhaps described it best.

"Dinner-seminars are precisely the kind of activity that should define a meaningful Honors Program, most of all because of the strong interest among the students themselves."

Spring dinner-seminars include "The Natural History of Andalusia," "The Creation-Evolution Debate," and "Paths to Growth: Looking at India and China."


Peckish and Bookish

Among the many new opportunities available to Honors students this year, book discussions have proved to be enormously popular. Students have had the chance to join a dozen or so book discussions facilitated by various Georgia College professors.

"As with our dinner-seminars, these informal learning beyond the classroom' experiences at a professor's home are designed to stimulate thought and discussion, as well as promote student-faculty interaction," said Honors Program director Steve Elliott-Gower.

Whether reading Milton and Rose Friedman's Free to Choose, Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People," Ernest Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying, or Erin Hogan's Spiral Jetta, students have had a variety of in-depth and interesting books from which to choose. President Dorothy Leland facilitated a discussion of Fatima Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass.

Sophomore early childhood education major, Tori McClanahan, enjoyed her book discussion with education professor Dan Bauer. The discussion was based on Finding George Orwell in Burma, a book written by Emma Larkin.

"My book discussion was fantastic," said McClanahan. "The book was fascinating, especially since I did not know much about Burmese history or politics prior to reading it. Our discussion on the book was very insightful and explored many different topics and aspects of both Burma, and the United States."

These book discussions offer intellectual curious students a way to discover the world beyond the traditional classroom.

Casey Horne, a sophomore athletic training major, who also attended the discussion with Dr. Bauer as well, appreciated this new opportunity. "My book discussion went really well. The book allowed me to learn more about a subject that I otherwise would not have given much thought. I believe that opportunities, like the book discussions offered this semester, allow me to get even more out of my liberal arts education."

Amethyst Jamieson, a senior music therapy major, was one of the students who attended the Free to Choose book discussion with economics professor Ben Scafidi.

"It gave me a chance to meet some new Honors students, have a serious conversation, and learn more about economics in a more interesting way," explained Jamieson. "It was serendipitously timed, as the dinner took place just after the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae crisis came out in the news, and we were able to discuss the situation as it related to concepts from the book."

According to Dr. Elliott-Gower, programs like the book discussions and dinner seminars are designed to allow Honors Students to stretch "the grey matter," and meet with professors and fellow Honors students in a comfortable, informal environment. 

Books being discussed in the spring include Khalid Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions, and Arturo Warman's Corn and Capitalism.

Global Climate Change Poster Session

Students in Dr. Julia Metzker's Necessities of Life class (ISDT 2405H) organized a poster session in Bell Hall last December. Their goal was to raise awareness of global warming among Georgia College students and faculty. The conversations spurred by the presentations were both interesting and informative. The four posters are described below.

Solar Energy Poster

This poster described the current policies of Georgia College and the federal government towards the use of photovoltaic cells, a component of solar panels, to generate electricity, as well as the current state of photovoltaic technology.  It also considered the possibility for retrofitting Georgia College buildings with photovoltaic technology, as well as several additional ways that the college could conserve energy without incurring the cost and encountering the obstacles of retrofitting buildings with photovoltaic panels.

Global Perspectives Poster

This poster presented the different opinions of U.S. and international students on global warming and what their governments have done for this issue. The information was collected through interviews by email and in person. The poster included statistics such as population, GDP per capita, and CO2 emissions for each country for purposes of comparison. Google Earth was used to show the level of industrialization of each city that the students were from.

Honors Student Survey Poster

The results of a global warming survey given to Georgia College Honors students at an Eta Sigma Alpha meeting were presented here. Questions were asked about the existence of global warming, the factors contributing to global warming, and students' strategies to combat global warming. The survey results showed that over 90 percent of Honors students believed that global warming is occurring, that man contributes more than nature to global warming, and that a majority of Honors students believed in the ability of people to combat the influences of global warming. Many of the sampled students had taken courses that discussed global warming, and many of those students expressed an interest in learning even more about global warming.

Global Warming Summary Poster

An overview of the class and major concepts was presented here in a way that provided some context for the other posters. This poster included various charts showing how global average annual temperatures have been rising, how the emission of CO2 has steadily been increasing, and the major sources of CO2 and methane. There was also a brief summary of the other projects.

The global climate change poster session represented part of an ongoing effort in the Honors Program to promote undergraduate research and research presentation. We are also encouraging and supporting students, across campus, to present at Honors council meetings and professional academic meetings at the state, regional, and national levels. These experiences will help students planning to go on to graduate school, medical school, or some other form of post-graduate education.

Shout Out!

Meredith Carpenter, Casey Horne, Peter Robertson and Rachel Zechiel have been selected as Student Ambassadors. Their selection speaks volumes about their records of accomplishment as well as their personal attributes since this was a highly competitive process.

Julia Borland, Meredith Carpenter, and Kristina Cherry have been accepted into the prestigious Leadership Certificate Program. The program fosters the ongoing leadership development of participants through instruction, enrichment programs, direct experience, and active reflection.

Michael George, Christie Keene, and Alex Smith have been selected to participate in the Georgia Education Mentorship (GEM) program this year. Michael will be with Alex Gregory, President and CEO of YKK Corporation of America; Christie will be with Dr Beheruz Sethna, President of West Georgia College; and Alex will be with James Lewis, CEO of HomeTown Health.

Justin Greene, Peter Robertson, and Erin Schubach presented a paper on the Honors RLC global citizenship experience and Christopher Eby presented a paper on the First Amendment and obscenity at the Georgia Collegiate Honors Council annual meeting in Valdosta.

Dr. Steve Elliott-Gower was elected Faculty Vice President of the Georgia Collegiate Honors Council. Megan Thurber was elected Student Vice President. The GCHC annual meeting will be held at Georgia College next year.

Kristen Vick was inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa honors society in November. Founded in 1914, ODK was the first college national honor society to recognize and honor outstanding leadership and service.

Croix Snapp and Elena Adreyeva presented papers at the Environmental Justice International Symposium at Georgia College in February, which the Honors Program co-sponsored. Croix's paper examined water usage issues in Georgia and Elena's paper critiqued a Russian government report on Chernobyl issued 20 years after the disaster.

Lauren Buchheit was named 2008 Teen Volunteer of the Year by the Atlanta Association of Fundraising Professionals. Lauren organized a car show that raised over $5,000 for Relay for Life.

Christopher Venable starred in GCSU's production of Harold Pinter's The Lover – British accent, mannerisms and all!

Christopher Eby established a Georgia College chapter of Amnesty International. The chapter is focusing on human rights, the death penalty and, in collaboration with the Honors RLC, women's rights.

Erin Beall, Justin Reeves, and Daniel Shey will present papers on Middle Eastern insurgent movements at the Middle East Student Symposium in April. Kristin Ivy will present a paper on popular culture in the Arab world based largely on her semester-long experience with the School of International Training in Tunisia.

Alumni Corner

We are in the very early stages of developing an Honors Alumni Group. Of course that means having a Facebook page! Alumni can find us at "Georgia College Honors Alumni." The purpose of the group is to maintain and renew friendships among Georgia College Honors alumni, and to create educational and professional opportunities for current Honors students. Send us your news either via the Facebook group or to

Alumni Brief: Lynne S. Wilcox

Dr. Lynne Wilcox (BS, Biology, '75; MD, Medical College of Georgia, '80; MPH, Johns Hopkins University, '87) is a Senior Fellow with the Cosmos Council of Washington, D.C. She has 25 years of public health experience, including 20 years with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She retired from the agency in 2008 but continues to consult on a wide range of public health issues, including health policy development, health care quality, health outcomes in multiple settings, and scientific communication in print and on the Internet.

Lynne remembers Dr. John Sallstrom encouraging her to join the Honors Program in her freshman year. Her first Honors biology class was taught by the former head of the Biology Department, Dr. David Cotter, whom she describes as the "kind of professor who got students excited about what they were studying."

Lynne lives in Atlanta and is currently working on a book on the history of American public health in the early 20th century. The book examines endemic hookworm in the Southeast, infant mortality in New York City, a poisoned alcohol outbreak in the Midwest, and pellagra (niacin deficiency) after the 1927 Mississippi River flood.  These stories are linked to modern health events to highlight the persistent effects of economics, geography, political will, government infrastructure, and poverty on Americans' health.

Alumni Brief: Harold Mock

Harold Mock (AB, History, '06; SB, Political Science, '06) is a Bradley Foundation Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in the Cocoran Department of History at the University of Virginia. His proposed dissertation will examine Germany's position in the European community, NATO, and the OECD at the time of reunification. Harold has taught courses on 19th and 20th century international history, security, and diplomacy, as well as a humanities seminar on utopian political movements in modern history at UVA. His teaching talents have earned him a departmental graduate teaching award and a Seven Society Graduate Fellowship for Superb Teaching.

While at Georgia College, Harold was president of Eta Sigma Alpha and secretary of the Student Ambassador Team. He was also the first recipient of the John E. Sallstrom Award.

Harold credits Dr. Martha Keber with inspiring his love of European history and his decision to pursue a career as a teacher. And he remembers with particular fondness his classes with Dr. Bob Wilson, "whose brilliance and depth of knowledge is matched only by that of Thomas Jefferson."

Harold is engaged to Brandie Tatum, Georgia College Honors alumna (SB, Psychology, '07) who is completing a master's degree in industrial/organizational psychology at Radford University. The couple will marry in May of this year.


Editor: Steve Elliott-Gower

Contributing writers: Hannah Fouts, Katelyn Hebert, and Chelsea Thomas

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