Guest Blogger: Sean Finn, NCHC Board of Directors Member

Congratulations! You are eligible to join the University of Iowa Honors Program.

These words didn’t mean much to me when I first read them. For me, honors education had only ever meant different high school class sections, and maybe something nice to point out on my college applications. It wasn’t until I actually came to the University of Iowa that I learned that Honors at Iowa is so much more.

Honors has affected my entire experience here at the University of Iowa: I made my first friends here at Honors Primetime before classes started, I’ve taken honors classes that have afforded knowledge and insight I couldn’t find anywhere else, and I have made connections and relationships that have opened up doors to exciting opportunities and heightened my college experience. But, recently, I took the first step down a new path in my honors journey.

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Before last semester, I had never heard of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Perhaps I had heard it in passing, but I never knew what it did or how it impacted the University of Iowa. Our school is an institutional member of the NCHC, and has access to the myriad resources and opportunities that it offers. I would never have known this had I not gotten the email from the director of Honors at Iowa asking if I would be interested in running for a position on the NCHC Board of Directors.

I was doubtful at first if this was the kind of position I was interested in. Would it be too much work? Would it be too much responsibility? But once I learned that this would be a chance to represent the honors students here at Iowa and influence the organization in a manner that would benefit them, I felt that it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I signed up to run for the position, wrote a candidate statement, and packed my bags to go to Chicago for the annual NCHC conference.

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The conference was a whirlwind of handshakes, meetings, coffee, deep dish, more handshakes and meetings, and a lot of learning about the NCHC and honors programs around the country. There were dozens of sessions featuring the research of students and professionals about honors education and the programs that they have implemented in their own honors departments. There were others that discussed the difficulties faced by honors programs at two-year institutions, the challenges of increasing diversity within honors programs, and how to maximize honors students’ success.

The conference is one of the biggest opportunities that NCHC provides for honors students. Throughout several days, students and professionals alike have the chance to present their original honors research. Each conference also has programming directed to honors students, with sessions like developing a thesis and making the most of your honors experience. On top of that, there are student social events where students can meet other honors students from a wide range of institutions.

The entire NCHC experience was eye-opening and put the honors program here at Iowa in a whole new, global perspective. We are part of the national honors community, and the work we do here affects honors students, faculty, and staff everywhere. Similarly, their work affects us, and the numerous initiatives others implement and share with members of the NCHC give us the opportunity to learn from them.

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In December, I was elected by members of the NCHC to serve on their Board of Directors. I am honored to have been chosen to represent honors students at Iowa and around the country, and I look forward to ensuring that the NCHC continues to provide valuable experiences for honors students from all walks of life. It is my hope that honors students at the University of Iowa will take advantage of the exceptional opportunities offered by the NCHC.

 

by Sean Finn, junior

Area of Study: Ethics & Public Policy Major, Economics Major

Hometown: Marshalltown, IA

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