Haywood Community College Associate in Science student Brandon Arrington hopes to set himself apart early on in his educational journey. Through the college’s Honors Program, he is pursuing a more rigorous and rich curriculum than required.

Arrington plans to become a doctor and is already gathering information he can build on. Through an honors course, he is studying diseases in the cell organelles.

“What he is doing now ties directly into his future plans of studying human diseases,” explains Arrington’s honors instructor Dawn Cusick. “Being a physician is a highly competitive profession. As often as you can distinguish yourself from other students, you should take advantage of it.”

Arrington says, “In a smaller school setting, I am getting more one-on-one attention than I would at a larger school.”

In fact, Arrington’s studies are enriching the regular class. He shares the information with the students from his research project.

Haywood Community College’s Honors Program is intended to provide an opportunity for qualified students to pursue a more rigorous and rich curriculum than is necessary to meet the standard graduation requirements as established by the college for each of its regular degree programs. It challenges students in a way that promotes their personal and professional growth including enhanced development of HCC’s general education competencies of collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.

The program encourages incorporation of service learning into educational experiences and promotes student engagement in academic pursuits. In addition, the Honors Program provides formal recognition of the additional academic investment and achievement of the students who successfully complete the honors curriculum.

So why would a student want to be in the Honors Program? “Because it shows I can go the distance,” explains Associate in Science student Spencer Conrad. “I know if I work harder, I learn more.”

Conrad’s current honors project is through his Western Civilizations I class. He is completing in-depth research on American conspiracy theories and alternate historical explanations of at least three events from American history. He will present his findings to his class, complete with a written lecture, PowerPoint presentation, and bibliography of sources.

What does it take to be an honors student at HCC? For those entering the program in their first semester at HCC, students must be a graduate of a NC high school college prep curriculum and must meet one of four requirements:  based on high school grade point average; high school class rank; SAT score; or ACT score. Students entering the program after their first semester must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher with at least 12 college credit hours complete.  

According to Greg McLamb, Conrad’s honor advisor, “Taking part in the Honors Program allows a student to have a deeper study on a specific issue and gives them advanced presentation experience. This is important in the working world where you will have to make presentations and address questions.”

In order to complete the requirements for HCC’s Honors Program, students must finish their program of study with a cumulative grade point average of a minimum of 3.5 and 12 credit hours of honors coursework in at least three different classes with a grade of A or B for all honors classes.

The benefits to students who participate in HCC’s Honors Program are numerous. They will receive formal recognition of earned honors credit on their official Haywood Community College transcripts and formal recognition at HCC’s graduation exercises. In addition, an HCC honors student can apply the earned honors credits from their community college experience toward meeting the requirements of honors programs at Appalachian State University, Western Carolina University, and the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

For more information about HCC’s Honors Program, please call 627-4575.