As a graduating senior in the College of ACES, I have had plenty of time to reflect on my past four years in the Honors Program, and specifically the many benefits of being an active James Scholar. There are so many opportunities for James Scholars to take advantage of in the College, and I would not have grown to be the person I am today without these experiences.
In the James Scholar Honors Program, the students get to register for classes early as well as complete a research project. This may sound like extra work at first, but the skills gained (such as attention to detail, public speaking, and data analysis) place James Scholars among the top applicants for future employment and entry to graduate and professional schools. By completing an honors class or Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA) each year, James Scholars build one-on-one relationships with their professors, increasing networking opportunities. Besides benefits in the classroom, James Scholars have the opportunity to join a variety of organizations, two of which I have been actively involved in: the James Scholar Activities & Communications Team (JS-ACT) and the Alpha Zeta Honors Fraternity (AZ).
The first organization is the James Scholars Activities & Communications Team. As a member of this club, one meets other James Scholars while having the opportunity to improve media skills by writing articles on a variety of topics. Personally, I was able to network with many ACES faculty members while writing about different topics, which made the College feel a lot smaller. I also met other James Scholars whom I could contact for advice throughout the program.
The second organization that James Scholars can join is the Alpha Zeta Honors Fraternity. This society is for students in the College of ACES who place in the top 40% of the College. Through the monthly meetings and volunteer activities, members have the opportunity to grow in its four pillars: scholarship, leadership, fellowship, and character. Monthly speakers come in from the College of ACES, local agricultural companies, and the Urbana campus’ Career Center to offer advice to active members. Again, this honors fraternity was a great networking opportunity to interact with fellow classmates as well as organizational professionals.
Overall, the best part of being a member of both these organizations was that I held the position of the Alpha Zeta Liaison on the James Scholars Activities & Communications Team. With this role, I was able to build a partnership so that James Scholars could actively communicate between both organizations, further creating opportunities in the College of ACES. Therefore, my advice to all James Scholars in the College of ACES is to get involved early. Build your network with professionals and faculty by joining these prestigious organizations. When you are in my spot, looking back at your four years as a James Scholar in the College of ACES, you will be happy you did.