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Honors College aims to turn growth into impact


The Honors College welcomed its largest-ever class of new students (nearly 700, with an average high school GPA of 4.1) Thursday at GCU Arena.

By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau

“To whom much is given, much will be required …”

Dr. Antoinette Farmer, Honors College Dean and Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness

It is a parable found in the Gospel of Luke and also the message Dr. Antoinette Farmer, Honors College Dean and Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, put forward Thursday to encourage the Honors students seated inside GCU Arena.

“You are here, you are brilliant, you are bright and you are ready …” Farmer said. “We expect you, while you are here, to not only find your purpose, but to live your purpose and to go out and do great things in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We expect you to go be great doctors, great nurses and solve real-world problems.”

This year, the college welcomed its largest-ever class of new students (nearly 700, with an average high school GPA of 4.1) at the Honors College Kickoff. There are now more than 1,600 undergraduates in the college, which is “absolutely incredible,” said Breanna Naegeli, Honors College Assistant Dean.

Naegeli served as the keynote speaker for the program. From the annual, project-focused spring symposium to TEDx to new clubs on campus to scholarships and international travel, Naegeli urged students to explore the opportunities available to them.

“Seeing a brand new incoming class is always invigorating because they have energy, they are enthusiastic and they are ready to go,” Naegeli said. “Our biggest goal is that they walk away and look for ways to get involved and make an impact. A lot of students can get in the habit of waiting until they earn a bachelor’s degree to start putting that theory into practice, and we want our students to start doing that now in their local and global communities.”

Breanna Naegeli (left), Honors College Assistant Dean, introduces Honors College staff.

Aysha Bell, Career IMPACT Center advisor, challenged students to connect with one another, mark their calendars and share their innovative ideas through the Colangelo Scholars Club and Honors STEMists.

“You are all exceptional students. Therefore, it is our responsibility to make sure we are providing you with exceptional opportunities,” she said.

Different students took away different things from the kickoff.

For sophomores Tanner Snyder and Helen Runzo, it was a moment to laud their first year in the Honors College and kick off their second year.

The duo was especially excited about the symposium.

“It brought us together, and we made a lot of friends that way,” Snyder said. “We also got see how the Honors faculty and staff are so supportive and make it all so awesome for us.”

Hundreds of students learned about the benefits of being an Honors College student, new opportunities and ways to get involved on campus.

For Runzo, the Honors College is “a unique way to get plugged” and grow intellectually and personally.  

“It provides the right amount of opportunities, resources and knowledge on how to go from college and into the real world,” she said. “That is something that I truly appreciate and something that has helped me become the person I am now and who I want to be after college.”

First-year student and biology major Kenneth Palmer said he felt eager to begin classes and discover new goals through the Career IMPACT Center.

“The week has been filled with a lot of energy, and I love the atmosphere,” said Palmer. “You don’t feel alone. You don’t feel lost. GCU makes it fun.”

Lizbeth Garcia and Flor Varelas made their way to GCU together as best friends, honor students and full-tuition Students Inspiring Students scholarship recipients. Thursday, they shared something else in common: a need to be a part of something bigger.  

Garcia, an education major said, “I’m most excited about the international trips, especially with my major because not everyone has the privilege of getting an education. I hope that I can be one to grant that to other populations.”

Varelas, a pre-med student, acknowledged how she felt a calling to go into the medical field after her grandfather received a kidney transplant. She said she knew she had a purpose at GCU, especially after learning about its cadaver lab.  

Like Garcia, Varelas said she wants to travel to third-world countries to study and learn about effective ways to provide medicine.

Garcia said she feels “pretty positive” about the Honors program, based on everything she had heard from her friends.

“This will be my Lope journey,” she added.

Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or jeannette.cruz@gcu.edu.

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