Hailey Janelle '20
Environmental Science Major, Ecology & Honors Minor
"When I first was accepted to the University of Southern Maine, I had just come out of an unplanned gap year, a result of transferring out of a small private college in Northern Maine early in the academic year. I was invited to join the honors program and I was unsure about whether I wanted to or not. I was nervous about the workload and had this idea in my head that the program was going to be too restrictive and not offer interesting courses that I would want to take. Finally, after talking to a few people within the program, I decided to give it a shot. I can honestly say that the decision to join the honors program is one of the best decisions I have ever made. All of the honors classes I have taken have been fascinating and the workload, while it can be a lot, is very manageable. I tend to be soft-spoken and tend to go unseen and unheard in big lecture classes, but the honors program classes are typically smaller, seminar-type discussion classes where everyone has a chance to talk and freely express their opinions. The honors program has introduced me to many like-minded people and many new friends. The program fosters a sense of community, with many volunteer, internship, and work opportunities in the Southern Maine community. It has also opened the doors to studying abroad for me with the short-term class in Iceland. Joining the Honors program here at the University of Southern Maine was one of the best decisions I could have ever made, I am so grateful that I decided to join this amazing program, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the future!"
Aedin McDaniel '20
Biology Major, Theater & Honors Minor
"What can I say about the Honors Program? To put it simply: It allows students to excel not only in specific interests but provides opportunities that increase the quality of our lives.
I’ll backtrack a bit.
I’ll start by saying that my experience at USM has been everything I expected of an outstanding institution of higher education. I had been looking for a college that would provide an education that matched my future plans. I intend to be a wildlife veterinarian with a concentration on animal conservation. This is something I wanted since I first traveled when I was a toddler and learned that there were more animals in the world than the cats that lived in my family’s apartment. My interest has since increased; my desire is to learn about and experience the natural world in its entirety and not just in the state of Maine.
The Honors Program was first brought to my attention when I was looking at potential courses that I could take. The Vikings course stood out to me for a number of reasons. I had just had the opportunity to visit Iceland that summer, and I was very interested in learning about the history and mythology that was tied to the amazing land. I was blown away by the depth and intricacy of the Icelandic tales that we learned about in the course. In addition to providing new topics of interest for me, the Honors Program has given me a marvelous opportunity to travel to Iceland this summer as part of another course. The trip will help me to make more specific choices about my future, including how and where to continue my education after graduation.
I actually joined the Honors Program with some hesitance due to its close-knit feel, but all my doubt has now been eradicated due to the integrity and creativity of the program and what it offers. My general point is that the Honors Program provides opportunity. It is excellent for people who have interests that might be a bit too specific for a university of this size, and for people who want to go outside the box. I am very excited to continue my education as an Honors Minor with the full support of the professors and alums who contribute their knowledge and kindness to every student."
Anastasia D'Amico '20
Human Biology Major, Biochemistry & Honors Minor
"Before enrolling in an Honors Entry Year Experience (EYE) course, I had never heard of an Honors Minor. The EYE class that I started the Honors Minor with was called Race: Reflection and Reality with Professor Nisetich; it seemed like an interesting topic to learn about at the time. Little did I know that by taking that class I would gain a lot more than just knowledge. The Honors courses are much smaller than an average lecture class. This provides a much easier way to get to know everybody and make connections. The discussions we had in class, and the experiential learning we did together, resulted in a classroom of friends by the end of the semester. There was no divide between one another when we saw plays, experienced Ethiopian food, put on an exhibit, or kayaked to Malaga Island for class activities. Although we have all finished the course, I continue to meet up with friends from the class to go on excursions that the Honors Program holds for us. I also continue to make friends and enjoy the interesting topics that the Honors courses cover."
Amia Pelletier '19
Athletic Training Major
"When I was accepted to USM in Spring of 2015, I went to the undergraduate admissions office quite set in what I was going to do and the Honors Program was not part of that plan. In high school, I was the student who took all of the AP and honors classes that were available to me. These courses were supposed to prepare me for college level work so when I received a letter in the mail saying that I was accepted into the Honors Program I was honestly kind of bummed. I knew that college courses were already going to be a lot of work, and I was not looking forward to taking even harder courses, never mind an extra workload.
BUT then I talked to my advisor and she explained to me that my perception of the honors program was not at all what Honors actually is. She told me that the Honors courses I would be taking would be in lieu of other entry level courses that freshmen have to take and that I would be given more choices than the basic EYE 101 and ENG 101. I thought about it for the next few months before orientation and my first time registering for classes. During this time, I also talked to the program director about what this might mean for me being a Heath Science major (now Athletic Training) and wanting to go on to grad school. She told me that she knew of students that got into grad school with the help of graduating with Honors and having that on their transcript. Right then I was hooked.
Fast forward to freshman year where I took three honors classes. My entry year experience class, HON 101, had the topic of Monsters, Myths, and Metamorphoses which was not my forte in the least bit. To my surprise, I really liked the intimate feeling of the discussion-based class and the readings we were assigned were great. I also took HON 175, Oral Interpretations of Text. This was the most fun I have had in a class yet. It was a small class of 10-15 people and we would get to pick different pieces of writing that we would essentially act out in front of the class. At the end of the semester, we got to compose our own pieces to tell a story. In the spring semester, I took HON 299, Literature and Art, which was a tad more difficult than the other two I had previously taken. In this, we learned the language of art and looked at various types of art and the stories they told. Halfway through the semester, we read the novel I Am Asher Lev and watched the play that was based on the novel. Now I find it difficult to walk past a painting without wondering what is behind the product and its artist.
I’m excited to continue on my journey with the honors program and the wonderful people that come with it. The director is genuine and helpful, the professors are sophisticated and intriguing, and the students are eager to learn and ready to guide each other when needed."
Nikolas Frazee '16
Anthropology & Tourism and Hospitality Major
"I was invited to Honors my freshman year, and I am so happy that I accepted. I have met a large portion of my friends, and social network through the Honors Program. I have been able to take classes that are thought-provoking and engaging. I have also been able to be a part of one of the most knowledgeable, skillful, and fun programs here at USM. The USM Honor’s Program has had a profound positive impact on my college education. Not only does the program offer fantastic classes and community, but it also promotes volunteerism and community engagement. I believe that Honors is a well-rounded and far-reaching program, one of the best at USM. I am more than excited to see the future of the Honor’s Program and what other great things the program can accomplish. Honors does so well for its students, USM, and the greater Portland community, and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the future!"