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Curious, Devoted, and Enthusiastic

Peer to Peer in HONRS 120

HNRS 120 introduces students to the heart of the Honors Program -- interdisciplinary thinking and its applications. In this course, students learn to consider big or “great questions,” formulate and evaluate good research questions, and explore different disciplinary approaches to these questions through guest lectures and discussion. Students learn to identify various thinking patterns, and begin to explore interdisciplinary approaches to learning.

Who better to introduce you to HONRS 120 than our incredible Teaching Assistants? This amazing group of your Honors peers spend hours preparing, working with students, and instructing the lab sections of the class. They keep it all running, and are the key to building the Honors community at this introductory level. We are so grateful for their dedication and commitment to Honors! This month we asked the HONRS 120 TAs to tell us about the class, their experiences in the Honors Program, and how interdisciplinary thinking helps them. Here’s what they had to say!

“Honors 120 is the gateway to the Honors Program. It helps students to get into the Honors mindset and to understand the purpose of the Program. It helps students to realize that the Honors Program is not specifically for smart students to have a greater challenge, but rather for all students to view challenges in a greater way.” Dallyn McCracken | Linguistics & Middle Eastern Studies

“Honors 120 is the hinge point for everything in the Honors Program. It opens doors to thinking patterns, analysis, and gives you so much room to grow. It encourages growth and adds so much value to the overall college experience.” Taylor Dalton | English, International Business, & Chinese

“Honors 120 is the introduction to interdisciplinary thinking in the Honors Program, which allows one to expand their horizons and gain a more profound learning experience than they could have otherwise. It will help enhance anything you are learning!” Abigail McBride | Economics & French

“Honors 120 is the perfect foundation for the rest of your college experience! In this class, you learn about what a college education looks like. Ultimately, I feel that you learn the value of hard work and dedication. For me, it inspired me to not just go through college seeking mediocrity. Rather, I wanted to be more like these outstanding thinkers and researchers and truly make a difference.” Alyssa Ball | Physiology & Developmental Biology

Like many BYU Honors students, our HNRS 120 TAs took interest in the Honors Program because the unexpected connections made in Honors classes are intriguing to them, challenge them to think critically, and inspire them in their respective fields of study. They value the interdisciplinary aspect of learning taught in the Honors Program. Some appreciate the opportunity to write a thesis as an undergraduate, as preparing for graduate studies. Many of them also find the Honors Program to be an anchor for them in the campus community. Universally, Honors students at BYU recognize the unparalleled opportunity that the Honors Program offers to expand one’s thinking and horizons in both breadth and depth.

“I have enjoyed classes that are led by curiosity and interesting questions instead of the standard classroom experience. The Honors courses have a richness that is unmatched on campus.” Quincy Taylor | Cybersecurity

“I joined the Honors Program for the incredible community and to associate with passionate people.” Adam Johnson | Political Science & International Strategy and Diplomacy

“I decided to join the Honors Program because I wanted to be a part of this smaller inclusive community that could help me prepare for post undergraduate studies.” Diana Gonzales | International Relations

“I believe that not all questions can be answered just by one answer; there are many perspectives to take into account. The Honors Program has allowed me to expand my learning and enhance my education at BYU.” Kennedy Madrid | Neuroscience & Spanish

“I decided to join the Honors Program because I love viewing things from new angles, and that is what the Honors Program offers.” Dallyn McCracken | Linguistics & Middle Eastern Studies

HNRS 120 TAs are passionate about the Honors Program as a whole, but they have a particular zeal for 120 and for the students they work with. It’s clear these students were inspired by their own 120 experience, and wanted to help enhance the experience of future Honors Students. They recognize the significance of individually wrestling with the methodologies and values of experts, and subsequently considering how these approaches apply to everyday life. They also noted the benefit of moving beyond their typical modes of writing and study, which helped them mature and become more aware of their perceptions of the world around them. Students are able to expand the way they think much more effectively when they are outside their comfort zones, and the Honors Program does just that!

“I had an AMAZING HONRS 120 TA who really influenced my overall experience at BYU. He helped me choose a major, find different opportunities at the school, and gain confidence in my ability to succeed. He had such a profound impact on the start of my experiences at BYU, and I really hope to be able to do that for other students.” Alyssa Ball | Physiology & Developmental Biology

“I was impressed by how HONRS 120 prepares you to be capable of the depth of thought required by other classes later on in the program. I wanted to share what I learned about this in order to help others have the great experience in the class that I had!” Madsyn Selph | Sociology & Global Women’s Studies

“I love the speakers in HONRS 120. When I took this class ages ago, Dr. Kristin Matthews came and spoke on her research in race and online reading communities. At the time, I was an economics major, but when Dr. Matthews began her presentation, I realized that what she was doing was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Without this class I wouldn't be on the path I am today, so becoming a TA is my way of giving back. I hope that I can help my students learn things not only about interdisciplinary studies, but about themselves.” AJ Dickens | English & Creative Writing

“HONRS 120 is phenomenal due to it being a great introduction class to interdisciplinary thinking in its capitalization on curiosity and having a safe place to think and have open discussion. I became a TA because I wanted to continue to have these discussions with students and ultimately aid them in their quest of knowledge.” Naomi Julian | Public Health

“I love that HONRS 120 pushes students to think in new ways. It forces concrete thought into abstraction, and helps us nail down concepts in ways that we never before thought possible. I can't imagine what this class would be like without the TA. I loved my TA in HONRS 120, and I wanted to find a way to give back to the Honors program and pay it forward. Becoming a TA seemed like the best way to do that.” Taylor Dalton | English, International Business, & Chinese

Clearly, there is something marvelous about interdisciplinary thinking! We asked these TAs what made this way of thinking so indispensable to them, and how they have been able to apply what they’ve learned about interdisciplinary thinking in their own lives.

“Interdisciplinary thinking is an art. The time spent wrestling with material and the connections that you form help you cultivate a love for the world. The active attention that interdisciplinary thinking requires is a form of devotion. This way of thinking has helped me recognize the importance of being guided by your curiosity. As a member of the leadership of the Cybersecurity Student Association, I have been able to shape our focus to include interdisciplinary topics. Because of the ideas I have considered in my classes, I have been able to find deeper meaning in my area of study.” Quincy Taylor | Cybersecurity

“Life is all about interdisciplinary thinking. If you are able to make connections about social issues and concepts you are studying, then you will have a tool to utilize in a multitude of situations. This way of thinking has inspired me to research topics through which I can make a change for good.” Emma Webster | Mathematics & Global Women’s Studies

“Great minds collaborate. Only by working through problems with the cooperation of those of multiple disciplines have the best minds brought about great solutions. I think interdisciplinary thinking is valuable not only because of the way it helps us view the same problems in new ways, but also because it allows us to grow, shift, and adapt. The Honors Program teaches you to do just that! I’ve been able to utilize what I’ve learned about interdisciplinary thinking on every team I've been on, in every club I’ve participated in, and in every job I've worked. It’s benefitted every relationship I've been in, and helped me to more wholly understand essays, classes, talks, and books. Everything I do is influenced by interdisciplinary thought. I think the power of that thinking comes in the perspective that it brings. I hope to go into management consulting. The problem solving and critical thinking skills I've learned and developed in this class will help me in that pursuit as well! Life's better when you look at it from the lens of interdisciplinary thought.” Taylor Dalton | English, International Business, & Chinese

“Interdisciplinary thinking forces us to view our surroundings as a whole, and not as distinct and completely separate disciplines. Everything is connected; we just have to allow ourselves to see those connections and utilize them for collective progress. Interdisciplinary thinking is also a great tool for problem solving. I’ve tried to use it as much as possible to relieve myself of the monotony of unilateral thinking; solving problems, academic or personal, in the same way again and again is exhausting!” Sydney Reil | Neuroscience & German Studies

We really can’t say it any better than these students, and we couldn’t run the Honors Program without them! Thanks to all our Honors Teaching Assistants for their enthusiasm, hard work, and commitment to the Honors Experience!