Going off to college was a very scary and difficult experience for me. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and for the first time in my life, I was truly on my own as I went through arguably one of the biggest changes of my life so far. I may have been nervous, but I had no idea of the great experiences that were in store for me.
Being in the Honors Program, I was very excited, yet somewhat intimidated, by what was ahead of me. I knew I would be taking a class called “Honors 101,” but I didn’t really know much about it. Little did I know that it would be perhaps the most unique and interesting class that I’ve taken thus far, a class that would give me the warmest of welcomes into the Honors Program and St. Norbert College.
Honors 101 is a required first semester class for all first year Honors Program students, and I believe it was the perfect introduction to what education is really about at St. Norbert. In this fun and at times rather challenging class, we primarily focused on learning about communities and their impacts on our lives. Honors 101 was not like my other, more traditional college classes in that it directly applied to my daily life.
From reading captivating books like Utopia and Black Swan Green, to listening to lectures about streets, prisons, small businesses, and all kinds of interesting topics, Honors 101 helped me understand the communities that exist in my life, as well as those that I am a member of myself. This class helped hone my writing skills, learn the value of varying life perspectives, and help me more fully understand who I am and what I value most.
What made this class so great for me was my amazing professor, Fr. Neilson. Fr. Neilson understood what Honors 101 was about and how it truly gives students a taste of what’s to come at St. Norbert. His lectures were interesting, fun, and thought provoking, and I always came away from Fr. Neilson’s class with some new realization about community, about college life, or about some other important aspect of my life. Fr. Neilson truly has a passion for teaching, and the energy he brings to class definitely transfers to all of his students.
One of my favorite things about Honors 101 was our trip to the St. Norbert Abbey. As part of our “Intentional Communities” unit, we spent two of our class days at the Abbey, where we received a personal tour from Fr. Neilson (who lives at the Abbey), as well as an introduction to music at the Abbey and the important role that it plays in the celebration of our faith.
Another one of my favorite experiences from Honors 101 was a lecture we received about street gangs in our “Intentional Communities” unit. Two local police officers kindly donated their time and came to St. Norbert to speak to Honors 101 students about street gangs. Their lecture included topics such as the influence of gangs on youth, as well specifics about the different types of gangs that exist throughout the United States. I found this lecture extremely interesting and engaging, and it gave me a greater understanding of the varying types of communities that people are members of.
Honors 101 ended with a very special final project that presented us with the unique opportunity to create our own perfect community or “utopia.” Although this project took some time to prepare, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to be creative and think of different approaches to create my community. I was amazed with all of the ideas that my classmates came up with, and one group even created a utopia in the video game Minecraft!
The Honors 101 final project was the perfect way to wrap up a great semester, and perhaps one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever had. Honors 101 was a great introduction to the journey that lies ahead of me here at St. Norbert, and I can say with absolute certainty that this class was a highlight of my first semester college experience.