Challenge by Choice: an environment where participants are asked to search for opportunities to stretch and grow during the experience
After my first couple class sessions in Honors 300, I really did not think it was for me. I am barely going to squeeze my degree into 4 years and the mountain of requirements seemed to only get bigger as we continued on in class. I was feeling more stressed than excited, so I scheduled a meeting with Phame, the Director of the Honors Program at CMU. I really just needed someone to shoot it to me straight to determine whether it was worth continuing. So, three weeks into the semester, on September 15th, I thought I would be quitting Honors. Quite the opposite happened however. I was reassured on my position in Honors and had a great conversation about my future and aspirations with Phame instead. I am using this meeting to fulfill “Participating in the Honors Community”. While I didn’t see this being a positive interaction with Honors, it was in reality.
The reason for my visit became the least of my priorities once I got taking with Phame. Once my mind was put at ease about achieving my Honors requirements, we discussed my future. I told him about my plans for law school and we discussed what my interests were to narrow down what kind of law I would pursue. He was very knowledgeable about my interests which gave me more confidence in taking his advice. I also shared my passion to study aboard, which he is a huge supporter of. I explained my dilemma between getting an internship before law school, working to save money for school, and studying aboard. My mother is not entirely interested in the idea, so Phame gave me great ideas on how the experience would be beneficial, if not superior, to the activities my mom thinks are important. He even offered to speak with her, because he felt so confident about sending me abroad. Honestly, he re-sparked my interest in study abroad, because I had become discouraged.
Going into Honors and even into my meeting with Phame, I thought the program would be good for my resume and law school applications. I really hadn’t thought about how the program could propel me as an individual. The initial purpose of the meeting was to discuss the ridiculous number of requirements they had added to my full plate; I left believing those requirements were opportunities instead of obligations. Yes, they were still required, but Phame made me see each activity as a way to further my academic and professional career, which is ultimately my purpose for being at the university. I began thinking deeper about all of the things I had involved myself in and if I was doing them for the “right” reasons. In addition to feeling more confident in Honors, my discussion also inspired me to take more steps toward creating connections personally and professionally. I have since reached out to a CMU grad who has since attended Harvard Law, among other professors and local professions that will help to build my future. Phame told me these are the activities that set you apart from the competition; not the title of a honors student, but what you did personally while you were in Honors.
I have gotten pretty excited about my last few semesters after my meeting. I signed up for the Honors Seminar, Service Behind Bars, suggested to me by Phame, which doubles as an Honors “requirement” and relevant career experience. I am really excited. I have also spent a lot of time researching study abroad programs, which I will be completing over the Summer. Overall, I am beginning to see how what you do with a title has greater significance than just the title….thanks to Phame.