Smarts With Heart Honors Program Produces Student and Alumni Leaders

Kaitlin Franklin

Being a student in OC’s Honors Program means more than a prestigious diploma. For the 2015 graduating class, their Honors experience helped them get closer to achieving their goals.

In April, the Honors Program graduated the first class with two cohorts and the first students to live in Honors House at Davisson Hall from the beginning of their OC experience. 

Every Honors student who applied for graduate school was accepted, with six students attending medical school, one attending pharmacy school, and seven attending law school.

The academic rigor of the Honors Program is something that really challenged me throughout ... the whole process really grew me as a writer and as a scholar. Afton Paris

These Honors graduates look forward to studying at law schools like Southern Methodist University, the University of Chicago, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Virginia, and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. 

They will attend medical school at institutions like the University of Kansas School of Medicine, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, and the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy. Honors graduates also received job offers from Boeing, China Now, Moore Public Schools, the Oklahoma Policy Institute, and the OU Medical Center.

This class included Helen Holmlund, a finalist in the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program, and Chas Carter, a member of OC’s state and regional champion Ethics Team who served two years as Honors Advisory Council president. 

Other standout Honors grads included Tyler Parette and Afton Paris, who both spent a semester at the University of Oxford through the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, and Mark Street, who joined Tyler as Nigh Scholars during their time at OC.

Mark will attend medical school at the OU Health Science Center this fall. He said his Honors curriculum gave him the opportunity to undertake a research internship the summer before his junior year.

“Because of the Honors Catalyst Project, I was able to study ovarian cancer at the OUHSC Stephenson Cancer Center,” Mark said. “I was able to research, be published, and competitively present my findings at the Oklahoma Academy of Sciences Technical Meeting and the EPSCoR Research Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol.”

Afton, who received the Outstanding Delegate Award at the 2013 Model Arab League, will continue on to the University of Chicago to study for a master’s degree through its Committee on Internal Relations. She said the challenge of her Honors courses strongly impacted her collegiate success.

“The academic rigor of the Honors Program is something that really challenged me throughout because they really expect you to produce quality scholarship right off the bat,” Afton said. “Though that is difficult, the whole process really grew me as a writer and as a scholar.” 

Named OC’s Outstanding Vocational Ministry Major this year, Mark said the Honors Program shaped his goals as a future family practice physician, as he seeks to join that career with his spiritual life.

“I hope to be able to show God’s love to every patient and help those in need,” he said. “I loved being a part of the Honors Program and I truly feel it prepared me both spiritually and academically for joining the medical field.”

Afton said she looks forward to using the skills developed in the Honors Program in her graduate studies and legal career.

“I have already experienced the benefits of having gone through the Honors educational experience, as many of the skills I learned during my time at OC were invaluable when I ventured out of the university,” she said. “I am ecstatic to take those skills and grow them even further.”

Summer 2015

View more stories from the Summer 2015 issue of Vision magazine.