Distinguished scholars celebrate graduation at end-of-year Honors Program ceremony

IMG_6194The SUNY New Paltz Honors Program provides highly motivated students with opportunities to engage in deep learning practices and conduct major scholarly research in an atmosphere conducive to independent thinking, creativity, respect and social responsibility.

On May 14, the Honors Program lauded the high-caliber work ethic and performance of 39 graduates from the December 2015 and May 2016 classes in a ceremony and reception at the McKenna Theatre.

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“We know that the most meaningful educational opportunities share some common features,” said President Donald P. Christian. “They demand that students take responsibility for their own learning and devote time and effort to purposeful tasks. They entail frequent feedback from professors and fellow students, require daily decisions that deepen students’ investment in the activity and often provide occasion to see how something learned in one setting applies in another, or the way that different disciplines or methodologies come together to create new insights. This list should sound a lot like the kinds of things you’ve done as an Honors student at New Paltz. I commend you for seizing these distinctive learning opportunities, and hope you feel a sense of pride in all you’ve achieved in your time here.”

The Honors Program challenges students to go above and beyond in their pursuit of personal and intellectual development. This year’s class produced mature scholarly and creative work in a variety of disciplines and completed rigorous senior thesis projects on topics ranging from cochlear implants for the deaf, queer young adult fiction, the ecosystems of the nearby Shawangunk Mountains and the biochemistry of long distance running.

“This year I was struck by how these students selected thesis topics that were truly meaningful to them,” said Honors Program Director Pat Sullivan. “Their projects served as capstone experiences in the best sense of the word, speaking to the ways in which students connect their work in the classroom with enriching experiences outside the classroom.

“When I encourage first-year and transfer students to apply for admission to the Honors Program, I talk about the Honors cohort as engaged in learning, intellectually curious, creative, dynamic, collaborative and collegial. The seniors with us today have been important ambassadors for the program, reaching out to potential students, offering tours and recounting experiences. I’m so proud of these students and can only imagine what the future holds for them.”

One of the program graduates, Sabrina Sarro ’16 (English), returned Sullivan’s kind words in describing the value of her stewardship.

“The Honors Program is where my heart is on campus – where I’m centered and where I work,” Sarro said. “Dr. Sullivan is absolutely wonderful. She’s always friendly and kind, always has her door open and really wants what’s best for all students.”

More information about the Honors Program is available online.