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Honors students reflect on Honors Projects

Click on a photo and scroll down to read personal accounts of HON 160/170 by Honors graduates.

Class of 2010

Arielle Allard Sarah Block Michael Duffy Colton Evans John Heller Emily Holmes Justin Johnson Jair Juarez George Nielsen

Class of 2009

Ayla Lewis Kate Cushman Lexi Garrity Lori Taylor Tess Obenauf

Class of 2008

Alexis Austin Janet Cites

Arielle Allard

Arielle Allard

My Honors project was done in two parts; the first quarter I studied the Celts, and for my second quarter I applied what I had learned in a Christian fantasy novel A New Season, the fourth book in the series that I have been developing for several years and which I am now pursuing publishing. I have always been fascinated by the Celts, and this was a wonderful way to study them more in depth: namely, their history, language, and culture. The Celts are known as a war-like people (even taking on the Romans), but they are also known for artistic expression in song and music and knotwork, to name a few. They valued valor, but also valued their bardic tales just as much. And out of these 'barbaric' people came the gentlest of monks, through which was brought light not only to the Celtic lands but also to Europe. The Celts were a paradox, expressing sides that were very different; art and war, music and valor. Yet these things are interwoven, much in the same way as their knotwork, and are inseparable.

It is also amazing to me how such a pagan people became such a great people for Jesus Christ. With great men like Saint Padraig (who is a paradox in himself) and Saint Columba to name two of the more well-known, becoming men of God who served Him with all their hearts, and also served those around them in a way that reminds me of the story in John 13 of Jesus. This paradox also expressed itself in my story: how ordinary people who have the same tendency for fear and failure, were led through the valley of the shadow of death and into the light of morning; how they pulled through because they had a hope for an anchor of their souls. Paradoxes, in which failure seems eminent, and yet victory is won, are the most precious of all these paradoxes, and that is what I have sought to show in my story and in everything I do.

Sarah Block

Sarah Block

My two part honors project focused on homeless youth. In HON 160, I explored how and why young people become homeless and what resources are available to them. To do this, I researched journal articles and databases to find more information about the foster care system. In HON 170, I focused on solutions to the epidemic of homeless youth. Interviews with current and former foster children and homeless youth helped to generate ideas on how to improve our broken foster care system.

Michael Duffy

Michael Duffy

While walking across the Centralia campus, one day I found myself drawn to the picture of Elmer Smith on the Diversity Clocktower. The caption called him the "fighting lawyer" who worked to defend members of the Industrial Workers of the World. But who was the man behind that face on the Clocktower, really? For HON 160, for several months, I researched on the subject of the Centralia Tragedy and the events that led up to the violent confrontation on November 11, 1919 between the Wobblies and the American Legion during the Armistice Parade in Centralia, Washington. I developed a rough draft of a three act screenplay about Elmer's struggle, entitled "The Forgotten," which will eventually be produced as a low-budget film. For HON 170, I began work on a second screenplay from an idea that I had 18 years ago called "Dreammaster: Between Two Worlds." I am currently filming segments of the screenplay as part of my Advanced Video Production class and plan to finish production during the summer quarter 2010.

Colton Evans

Colton Evans

When I heard about the Honors Program, I simply wanted to take a class that was challenging and would make my transcript look more appealing. In retrospect, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The program allowed me a chance to pursue interests that were not necessarily available at Centralia College, as well as a chance to figure out what learning/study styles work best for me.

I decided to design my Honors Projects around creative writing. In the first, I researched the writing process. I read ravenously and watched films. Every time I did so, I pictured myself through the eyes of the person that wrote the story. I imagined and wondered what would inspire one to write such a tale. During this time I found my voice as a writer and put out a short story, juggled with another, and wrote a couple of poems.

For the second, I really started the endeavor of writing myself. I wrote several poems, buffed and polished my original short story, and I began my epic coming of age novel. I met with my honors advisor, Dr. Susanne Weil, on a weekly basis, we reviewed my work, and I had a chance to ask any questions that I had about story mechanics or grammar. At the end of this project, I had finally arrived to a point where I could truly consider myself a writer. Learning is a lifelong process, and I still have gaps to fill before I win a Pulitzer, but the Honors Program has definitely helped me climb to a new plateau of knowledge.

John Heller

John Heller

My Honors 160 project was to create a proposal for a "Financial Literacy Program" for Lewis County. The idea was to provide a non-profit agency that would coordinate volunteers to teach classes regarding the basics of personal financial management. My target audience is primarily low income people, but in my research I found that people from all social strata would find value in training regarding how to manage their finances a little better. I found that in Lewis County, about 27% of the population are living at or below the poverty level. I hope that by educating people on how to manage their money better, they can live a better life. By assisting people in this way, we can improve the local economy from the bottom up and help create at least a slightly better life for all.

For Honors 170, I continued my research on the Financial Literacy Program and presented it publicly in a Centralia College Lyceum lecture and to local business people, including local professionals in financial and accounting fields. My idea has been well received in Lewis County, as well as by the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants. I also researched opportunities for grants available from both public resources and private resources. I have received interest from local CPAs who are willing to donate some of their time to help with teaching classes. The local banking community has begun family financial literacy classes quarterly at Centralia College, and I’m hoping to integrate their program into the one-on-one counseling that I hope to provide with my program.

Lewis County Financial Literacy Project (docx)
Helpful financial websites (docx)

Emily Holmes

Emily Holmes

College is supposed both to challenge and to help students to grow, both academically and personally. For this reason, I chose to participate in the Honors Program. I am a Psychology major, and with the help of my Honors advisor, Dr. Neal, I decided to look at the psychological effects of single parents on the single parents, especially teen single mothers.

For HON 160, I spent the first quarter reading about 20 scholarly journal articles, then summarizing and citing 16 of them in APA format: my goal was to get them to the point where someone could get the gist of the whole article in a paragraph of my own words. For HON 170, my second quarter in the program, I came up with six questions based on the journal articles I read and on my own curiosity; I asked these with all 13 of the teen mothers I interviewed. These young women were mainly from the Teen Program Center here on campus. After I finished the interviews, I wrote a paper comparing and contrasting my findings with the findings of the articles. I presented my research for both HON 160 and HON 170 to the Psychology Club.

The majority of the girls I interviewed were from the college's Teen Program center, finishing up their high school credits, which means that what I found should not and cannot be a generalization about all teen mothers. Rather, what I found with the girls that I interviewed was that they were not stereotypical teen mothers. Instead, I found that these girls had goals and motivation to grow up and get an education and job because of their love and concern for their child(ren). These young mothers were coping with their situations very well for girls so young. They were very honest about how hard it is to be a teen mother, and they were quick to say they would not recommend it; but they were managing, and in the process they were growing, maturing, and becoming responsible mothers.

The Honors Program helped me to step outside of my comfort zone, to take on something I never thought I could do, and to push myself to complete it. It has also given me the opportunity to work closely with two great professors here at the college who have helped me, challenged me, and encouraged me through the whole process.

Annotated Bibliographies re: Psychological Issues of Single Mothers (doc)
The Psychological Effects of Teenage and Single Parenting (ppt)

Justin Johnson

Justin Johnson

When I first got to Centralia College, I had pretty much a one track mind, only focused on graduating and moving on to the next step in my life. I had no clue or any desire to take Honors classes while trying to finish up my degree. After completing English 102, I felt happy that summer was just around the corner. It was the only thing on my mind. I remember when Dr. Weil asked if I wanted to do the Honors Program, and I said I would think about it over the summer, not knowing she would ask me again during the fall. I was delighted to find out that this eleven credit course gave me so much freedom: something I had never thought about before. It seemed amazing that I actually got an opportunity to study what I wanted. I agreed after some soul searching; this wasn't just a class, but a chance to unearth something I had wanted to explore my whole life.

The Honors Program for me was something personal: without getting into too much detail, I got to rediscover the individual I had always wanted to be. I started asking who I was as a person. The things I wanted most in my life and tried to focus on just the elements that mattered most to me. The Korean culture into which I was born was something that seemed like a distant memory, a desire I had put down learning because I thought I wanted something else in my life. I decided to learn Hangul as my project. The first part of winter quarter I used as a warm up to answer some of the biggest questions in my life. I was lucky enough to find a mentor like Hyesoo Albright, who would guide me in this process. We did a lot of activities to fine tune topics that mattered the most. Learning basic vocabulary was hard and a new challenge. I remember under estimating the challenges of trying something new and freeing your mind to accept messing up. This was a lot harder than the seven years of Spanish I had completed my freshman year.

My second quarter, which started in the spring, was a lot easier because I had some experience trying to learn my heritage. Even though, I was so disappointed with the progress that I had made. Things seemed too overwhelming. Part of my project was reading about Korean culture, this would later lead into the subject that would change my life. I had read about Ju-che; over and over, but I would come across it and not understand its true meaning. Authors used it as a piece to a puzzle or a way to explain Korean nationalism, so I tried to do the same thing. This simple two syllable word turned out to be the guiding principle behind North Korean philosophy. The last part of my honors project, had me learning so much more than a mindset which was Ju-che at its very core. I got to piece together a whole culture; its history, traditions, and my own heritage all at once while looking at a very personal global conflict. This one word become somewhat symbolic, the connecting pieces to the biggest puzzle my dream.

This program taught me so much about myself, but most importantly I have a friendship with someone that will last the rest of my life. The Honors program is different for everyone, but it does make you think deeper about who you are. It takes a Korean to truly understand one; I leave this year knowing who I am.

Jair Juarez

Jair Juarez

I will admit, that last spring I was a little hesitant when Dr. Weil told me that I would be a great candidate for the Centralia College Honors Program. Because I was not confident in my ability to handle the work load, I chose to delay my decision. The thought of applying for the Honors Program didn’t cross my mind again until late June. It was through my experience of being a junior counselor at the La Cima Leadership Camp 2009 that I made my decision. Being a staff member at La Cima not only inspired me to apply for the Honors Program, but it also helped me decide my main focus: to provide Latino outreach for my community.

One of my most memorable projects this year was to revive the Latinos Unidos Club at Centralia College. Though this process was very slow in the beginning, our club has continued to grow in membership every quarter. As of today, our club has over twenty five members and is one of the most active groups on campus. Our projects have varied from reaching out to let high school students in the community know about their options to attend college, to organizing a gang awareness presentation in Corbet Theatre.

Participating in the Honors Program has also allowed me to work with several large organizations, including One America, Educational School District 113, and the Latino/a Educational Achievement Project (L.E.A.P) Conference Committee. I am very proud of my involvement with these organizations because I've been able to make a positive difference in my community. Overall, I'm very glad to have enrolled in this program, because it has been the most rewarding experience for me at Centralia College.

George Nielsen

George Nielsen

I joined the Honors Program to expand the experience of my education at Centralia College. I was enrolled in the Electronics, Robotics, and Automation Program (ERA), working toward an Applied Science Degree, and getting really good grades. Part of the reason I joined Honors was that I was sure it would look good on my resume, but part of it was to meet other students who are excelling in their programs: I wanted to understand what they were thinking about and their take on current events, to let them know their school had an excellent electronic program, and that we too could think. I thought that, maybe, throwing a technical viewpoint into the mix would be interesting.

For my Honors 160 Project, my lab partner Jesse Nichols and I built a Tesla coil. It was a working model, using the science developed by Nikola Tesla, at the turn of the last century. It may have been a model, but we are developing 100,000 Volts of electrical energy from the standard (120 volt) power supply of a wall socket. We were generating small bolts of electricity 5 and 6 inches long. By the time, we were through tuning our resonant transformer; it was developing well over 100,000 Volts, developing a Corona, and shooting bolts of energy 10 inches long into the air.

During my presentation, the Honors Class visited the electronics labs to watch a demonstration. The class was offered an opportunity to participate in the experiment and Dr. Susanne Weil, Arielle Allard, Jair Juarez, and Colton Evans used various apparatus to experiment with the electrical bolts. Dr. Weil and Colton used a circular florescent tube to demonstrate that a bulb could be lit by radiated energy. They marveled that they could feel the radiated energy of the Tesla coil pulsing through the tube and into muscles of their arms. After the class tour, my partner and I experimented further and, by retuning the coil, developed more power out of the resonant transformer. It was then we started getting the airbursts and had the Corona develop. It was shortly after that, we melted the power transformer. It proved to be an interesting and rewarding experiment.

For my Honors 170 Project I studied and applied for certification in the International Society of Certified Electronic Technicians. The Society uses a qualifying examination to assure that the prospective technician has a complete body of knowledge of electronics so that the Society, in turn, can assure businesses and organizations that its members are professionals. The certification is an intensive and expensive test and annually the Electronics Club of Centralia College helps its members finance the test. The Club makes study material available and helps organize test study sessions for interested members. As a group, the Electronics Club has a high rate of success of having its members certified in the Society. As an officer of the Electronics Club, I tried to encourage every member to test for certification and helped organize the examination on our campus. During my project, I compiled a set of detailed and technically accurate notes to assist future members in studying for their certification.

Upon completion of my program, I plan to pursue my third career: in robotic operations.

George Nielsen with Cal Taylor and the Tesla Coil (jpg)
George Nielsen demonstrating the Tesla Coil (jpg)
George Nielsen testing the Tesla Coil (jpg)

Ayla Lewis

Ayla Lewis

When I first heard that through the Honors Program I could choose and complete two projects on my own, I was excited and determined. I knew right away that I would do one of the projects on something that would help me to further my dream of becoming a teacher of and advocate for the Deaf. I also recognized the benefit of working in a classroom with a deaf student. I felt it would refresh and strengthen my signing abilities, would introduce me to many new signs, and would help me better understand what it is like to be a deaf child in a hearing school.

Finding a school was the difficult part. I visited and called around to elementary and middle schools in the surrounding districts, but came up with nothing until I learned of the Centralia/Chehalis Student Support Program. Jefferson Lincoln Elementary School participates in this program, and has, among other things, a delayed-learning preschool classroom. The students in the class have an array of disabilities or disorders, and one student, Isaiah, is deaf. After speaking with the teacher, Jeri Davison, I began volunteering in the classroom Monday through Thursday every week.

In these past months, I have done more than just refresh my sign language; I have grown close to several of the students and have been able to observe the way Isaiah interacts with them even though he can’t hear them. I have learned a number of new signs and learned ways to sign nursery rhymes, songs, and other children’s stories. I got the chance to visit Isaiah’s home and learn from the way his parents support and communicate with him. I was also able to make connections with other deaf people. Most importantly, I was able to experience what it is like to work with a deaf child: the joys and the frustrations, the expansion of knowledge and the occurrence of setbacks, like when he would get frustrated and refuse to communicate at all. Everything was worth it, though, when he felt comfortable enough to sign with me and I was able to see his true character and how smart and unique he really is. I am now completely certain that I want to teach and work with deaf children. It is an amazing feeling to connect with them: to help them to communicate, understand, and successfully engage in a world made for the hearing.

While doing the project, I worked with Isaiah's interpreter out of the classroom as well. I was able to meet other deaf individuals, which gave me the opportunity to practice signing with Deaf adults, and also to ask questions and find out their different experiences and resulting opinions about Deaf Culture, the hearing world, and the interaction and relationship between these two. After completing the project, I presented what I have learned to the American Sign Language class here at Centralia College. I did the entire presentation in sign language. This was a challenge, but a huge growing experience. I got to share knowledge of deaf people and their daily lives to a classroom of students who share the same interests as mine. It also gave me the opportunity to sign in front of a large group of people, and because I did the presentation, it gave other students the motivation to go out and find ways they could be involved. I have made many long lasting friendships through the Honors Program and gained much more knowledge than a traditional classroom could have presented to me.

Kate Cushman

Kate Cushman

I'm a little bit of a glutton for punishment, so when I heard that I could investigate something in depth and get credit for it, I got excited. I have always wanted to be my own boss, and though I am not one hundred percent positive what my business will be, I am strongly leaning toward running a bed and breakfast. I know. It's very cliché. But here was my chance to figure things out before I get knee deep into it and get school credit for it! It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I chose to write a business plan for my bed and breakfast. What I discovered was a whole new way of learning.

I am working toward my business transfer degree here at Centralia College. What I want to take are the exciting entrepreneurial classes offered here. What I have to take to work toward my degree are almost exclusively lower level general education credits. To date, my total business related experience adds up to a big fat zero. The plan that my mentor and I chose was to research how to write a business plan and lay out a skeleton outline for my bed and breakfast during the fall quarter. Then winter quarter would be focused on researching and writing the actual business plan as if I were actually going to open my business, using the many great resources on the web. I started with the Small Business Administration as the anchor to my research and moved out from there to ensure that my resources were credible and up to date.

There are several great step by step instructions as well as tutorials on the web to walk you through the process of writing a business plan. It seemed easy enough. Yet when I began constructing my bed and breakfast and doing the foundation work, I found that it was not as simple as it seemed. Figuring out how to structure my business, what amenities I would offer, and how I would market it were all very simple. Digging up the facts and figures I needed to accurately predict my financials, especially in the current economy, was a lot more difficult.

A major aspect of the project is finding a way to present your work once you finish it. I was lucky enough to present my project, both for fall and winter quarter, to my mentor's two-year business ATA students. During the fall quarter, I presented the process of structuring my business and what a business owner looks for in personnel to the Human Relations in Business class. The following quarter, I presented to his Introduction to Business class. Both presentations went off without a flaw (if you could ignore the gum I chewed through out my presentation). It was very rewarding after all the hard work of putting together my project, with all the research and planning, to see people get excited about my bed and breakfast as I talked about it. The class participated and asked a lot of good questions after my presentation.

The most important aspect of being involved in the Honors Program is not the actual project I chose to study. It is learning how to learn. I can say without a doubt that I am a different learner now. I can, with a little help, jump into any topic, research it, and adapt it to what I need, whether it's learning about business, or about how to research, or how to prioritize. There were times that I truly struggled and felt so frustrated I wanted to give up, but I didn't. I fought with myself and with the help of my mentor learned how to find resources that I couldn't see before.

Centralia College emphasizes five learning themes: 1) reasoning; 2) written, oral and visual communication; 3) exploration-self and others; 4) resourcefulness; and 5) responsibility. Through my Honors Project, I hit on each of these themes without realizing it at first. I learned how to research a topic and develop my business plan based on what I learned. I learned how to solve problems on my own, and thanks to my mentor, where to go when I couldn't solve them on my own. I have gained self confidence that I have always wanted, and I can speak in front of groups with the assurance that I have something to say that is worth listening to. I have truly grown into a learner of life. I have caught the learning bug and can, with feverish frenzy, make my own path.

Lexi Garrity

Lexi Garrity

I was five when I learned how to read. I will never forget the feeling of satisfaction I had, upon knowing what the marks on the page meant. Words led to stories, and the journey to one of my favorite pastimes had begun. Fifteen years later, books still retain their charm and appeal. This fascination with books pushed me into the path of literature. For my honors projects, I did two three credit studies with one of my Literature professors. Dr. Foran had been my philosophy and American literature professor. Working on a one on one basis for my honors 160 and 170 projects was a nice stretch for me in the area of American literature.

Under Dr. Foran's guidance, I was given a more in-depth view of great American writing. We chose to analyze two of William Faulkner's most celebrated works. Absalom! Absalom! and Light in August are the two novels we decided to delve into. Both books are, debatedly, two of the best American novels ever written.

First I wanted to "get to know Faulkner"; I read a collection of his personal letters. Through this aspect of my study, I received a glimpse of Faulkner as a person and how he related to his family, colleagues, and business associates, not to mention discovering what Faulkner thought of his own work and the reception it generated.

After this introduction, I reread Light in August and took on Absalom! Absalom! I researched both books for comparative themes of stratification and dehumanization. Essentially, these phrases refer to the "levels" of society and the lengths of possible cruelty and indifference people will reach to maintain these social placements or to break out of them. Both elements are present in each book. Faulkner does a brilliant job of challenging the way society is viewed and how certain people in peculiar settings, respond to the "status quo" of what is acceptable in society. After completing Honors 160 on Faulkner, I did a similar study for Honors 170 on Flannery O'Connor's themes for her more notable short stories.

I was thrilled that I got to plan a class in my future field. Working with one of my teachers on a more personal level was fun and challenging. I received the uninterrupted benefit of Dr. Foran's expertise, but the challenge of learning on a higher level. I think that my critical writing and thinking skills were improved by the uniqueness of Faulkner and the irony of Flannery O’Connor. Both American writers wrote thought-provoking pieces that went way beyond the scope of happy endings and simplicity. Each piece was unexpected and a challenge to read.

My goal for school is to receive my Bachelor's in English and then possibly go on for a doctorate in Literature. If I stay on my current path I would like to be a teacher. These projects definitely aided me in my pursuit of this goal. I am hoping the Honors Colloquium will do the same. My first independent project for the Honors Colloquium investigated the background of one of our readings, Tracy Chevalier's novel Girl With a Pearl Earring. I ended up writing a lengthy paper on the life and style of Jan Vermeer, a 17th century Dutch painter whose work Chevalier transformed into her story. The research for this art project was fun and a stretch for my skills. In the end, I learned quite a bit about 17th century Dutch art and one of its notorious artists, Jan Vermeer.

Lori Taylor

Lori Taylor

Last year I overheard Alexis Austin discussing her honors project in the writing center, and her project on women's poetry caught my interest. I asked Alexis what was required to take advantage of this opportunity, and she referred me to Dr. Susanne Weil. After discussing the Honors Program with Dr. Weil, I became excited about being able to write my own novel for my projects.

In the summer of 2008, my first book, "Elements of Change," was born. The idea for my story started with a dream I had about transforming into a bird of fire and flying through the sky. The images of my dream were so vivid I could not forget them. I began to think about this fire bird, this "Phoenix," and what kind of person she was. So I sat down at my computer and wrote out the images from my dream. And then I had another dream. And so the process continued, and four chapters later, I had the foundation of my first novel.

During fall 2008 and winter 2009, I used Hon 160/170 to write and obtain feedback on my book. I have over nine chapters completed and hope to finish this first novel before November, so I can start the second book in the series before the end of the year. Throughout this process, I have learned about character development, outlining, time management, and I've discovered that creative writing isn't always just writing. Sometimes it is research, and networking, and being able to talk to other people about their experiences and areas of expertise in order to make my story believable. For example, I spent a week researching sword fighting techniques for a scene in my book just to make sure I wrote it accurately. Sometimes writing successfully is about effective time management and forcing myself to write through the writer's block. Sometimes I struggle to write two sentences. Other days the story almost seems to write itself, and I am just along for the ride.

Without the opportunity the Honors Program has provided me to do this project, this story might have remained an unusual dream. Instead, this spark of imagination has become the very real story that is exploding out of me like a supernova. Writing this story and receiving the invaluable advice and guidance of Dr. Weil, first in my English 102 class, then throughout the Honors Program, has given me confidence in myself and my abilities as a writer. Before I began working with Dr. Weil, even the idea of continuing school to obtain my Bachelor's degree seemed like a fantasy. Now I have been accepted to all the schools I applied to, and finally decided to attend Washington State University in Vancouver. When I first started attending school at Centralia College, my goal was simply to obtain a job I could tolerate. Instead, I found a passion for writing and a life journey that has become more rewarding than I had expected.

Tess Obenhauf

Tess Obenauf

Deciding to apply for the Centralia College Honors Program came about in a really odd way for me. As a student worker at Centralia College East and Public Relations Officer for the Centralia College East Organization of Students (CCEOS), I have always tried to keep an ear to the ground for helpful news. One day a student approached me being left off the Honors list printed in our local paper. I began to search for how a student made it onto that list, and although the two aren't related, in the process I found the Honors Program. At the time, there wasn't very much on the college site about the program. However, I knew it involved a Colloquium course in the final spring quarter. I had a target goal to join and applied for the Winter quarter, thinking I was well ahead of the game. As it turns out, I was far behind! Susanne Weil called me to tell me she had received my application, but it would actually be too late in the quarter to begin. If I was still interested, I could continue with my application, but it would mean fulfilling the Honors obligations in one quarter - Honors 160 and 170 (three credits each), as well as 250 (a five credit course). With the moral support of my friends on campus, I took the plunge.

I have an unquenchable thirst to learn about psychology and consider myself a journal addict. As I took the two psychology classes offered at CC East in Morton, my zeal for psychology was met, and admiration for Dr. Sandra Neal developed. Dr. Neal has been working with me as I continue to research the new field of mapping neuroterrain (that is, mapping the regions and tissues of the brain). Neurocartography, as this "brain geography" is called, is becoming very useful and has developed a solid foundation as a research tool in psychology. The more imaging technology is used, such as fMRI and SPECT/PET scans, the more psychologists and psychiatrists alike find it possible to tap into visualizing the actual brain in action. Just as we can look at the heart to identify specific problems, we are beginning to understand how to look at—and interpret—the brain in action. The potential to use such technology is not only exciting to me, but I have a vested interest, knowing that it could help so many loved ones and friends and neighbors as it becomes more accepted and effective.

For my second project, I asked Professor Dan Taylor to be my mentor. Dan makes math FUN! How could he know the effect of introducing the concept of "unsolvable" to me!? I love a challenge, and something "as simple" as an equation to identify and predict prime numbers seemed too easy. Thus begins the tickle of a fancy and diving into the world of math to change my life forever! I used to feel a dismal hollow of dread whenever I had to do anything more than basic algebra. Approaching the task of trying to find a simple equation for primes up to 100, I found a fascinating challenge. The joy I received from algebra classes with April Doolittle, Tara Johnson and Bob Callison at CC East only drove me further into a passion for math, thanks to graphing circles, Tesla and Sudoku (who knows the equation to develop a Sudoku puzzle?).

Honors Colloquium is so exciting! I'm fascinated with the other students and the range of study completed for their projects. They are all as dedicated to their passions and learning as I am. I love the daily participation, discussions, reads, and the bizarre feeling I get through the conversational topics in class each day. It's great to watch the minds at work in Colloquium as we each pick and choose our topics for the projects required of us in the course. Watching the growth of the other students as they develop and present their colloquium projects is inspiring. No two of us are alike, and that makes the Honors Program absolutely addicting. I've never been in a class that can discuss things, debate, mull things over as a group, and at the end of an hour still walk away smiling and laughing with each other. In correspondence with friends outside of class, I tend to use a lot of exclamation marks and inflammatory words filled with excitement. We shape the syllabus, since each new colloquium chooses what they will read and view. Susanne is there to guide and direct us along the way, and every day is fresh. She has quite a talent for keeping us on track. Thanks, Susanne!

My motto? Try to fill life with zest, and live each new day with as much thrill as I can possibly entertain without bursting! The perfect fit for this philosophy has been the Honors program and the chance to develop projects around my own interests. Challenge makes waking up each day a mystery. For my two colloquium projects, I was interested in showing how feasible it would be to incorporate environmental concepts and concerns into K-12 classrooms, but to do this in a hopeful way that does not overwhelm or intimidate children. My goal is to make such lessons applicable to life, so that students learn how one person can become exponential, leading by example. Can we make it apply from a young age, and carry it through graduation by combining with core classroom curriculum? My second colloquium project involved finalizing a project that began as an idea years ago...and will be unveiled on a website when we go live with it in June. We hope to make a point with people, whoever chooses to watch, that it's possible to care for others. Let that message reach one person and affect their life, and the ripple effect into life can develop a strong unity in mankind. We can't possibly tell the effects it WILL have, but at least the concept is applicable to qualify for an honors project.

I am so VERY grateful to Sandy Neal, Dan Taylor, and Susanne Weil for their energy. If you find yourself questioning something, and have a passion to understand it, or even research it - the Honors Program is for you. It is invigorating to participate and shape your class around your passion. Don't miss out on such a wonderful opportunity!

Alexis Austin

Alexis Austin

I was intimidated the first time I heard about the Honors Program. It sounded like more work than I could handle, and I had no idea what kind of projects I would be interested in completing. After speaking with various professors, I decided to apply and was accepted. I am incredibly glad that I did, because the Honors Program has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have been involved with in my two years at Centralia College.

I chose two entirely different projects for my independent study courses. My first project, completed with the advisement of Sharon Mitchler. I read a collection of literature that included rabbits as characters; these pieces ranged from Watership Down to Bunnicula. As I read each book I took notes, and at the end of my readings I compiled the information I had gathered and began to compare it. I wrote an 8 page paper, with full citations, comparing and contrasting the ways in which rabbits were used in literature. One of the most interesting angles that I studied included the use of religion and beliefs in all of the literature. I chose to do a project that involved rabbits because of my involvement in showing rabbits through the American Rabbit Breeders Association. After I completed my paper, I presented the information I had gathered as part of a 4-H project – I used my project as an example of what 4-H youth can do in their own demonstrations.

My second project was completed with the assistance of Linda Foss. I read the works of eight female authors that wrote poetry during the 20th century. After reading the works of these poets, which included Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, Sandra Cisneros, and Gwendolyn Brooks, I began to create drafts of my own poetry that would eventually become a collection. I wrote 11 poems, ranging in length and content, about my relationships with women of roughly my age. The content of this poetry varied from high school friendships to current interactions with individuals and groups. I created a booklet of my poetry and did a short presentation in the Writing Center of the college, which included a short speech about my process and expectations of the project, followed by a reading of select poems.

The Colloquium Seminar was an enjoyable experience. The small group allowed me to feel comfortable during all discussions. The reading was challenging and fulfilling and I found all of the topics of interest. The best thing about the Seminar is that students get to plan their own schedule of readings, discussions, and movies, along with other forms of media and information. We developed a calendar of readings and movies from a list of recommended texts, with the help of the professor teaching the class, Sharon Mitchler. At the end of the quarter, I felt better educated about the topics we discussed, and I also felt confident in my ability to discuss various sources of information while tying one reading to another. I am glad that I decided to take the leap and join the Honors Program, because I was able to work closely with various professors, a skill that I believe not enough college students explore, and I am now ready for heavier course loads and more in-depth material that awaits me at Western Washington University.

"The Last Time," poetry by Alexis Austin (rtf)
Rabbits in Literature, by Alexis Austin (rtf)

Janet Cites

Janet Cites