Missouri State University
Bear in Mind
Experiences from Members of the Honors College Community

My time as an Honors College staff member!

For the past year, I have been happily serving as the Graduate Assistant for the Honors College. Before I started, I was a little nervous about all of the duties the position entailed, but as time went on I became comfortable and confident in my abilities.

I have been responsible for managing LOGOS: A Journal of Undergraduate Research and ensuring that the Student Editorial Board stayed on schedule for the upcoming issue. I also served as an advisor to all Honors College students, but have met mainly with undecided freshmen and sophomores to discuss their interests and class schedules. Additionally, I have been revising and maintaining both the Honors College and Fellowships Office web sites, among other behind-the-scenes tasks.

I have honestly enjoyed this opportunity of working for and with the Honors College to better the experience that it provides for students at MSU. I have learned a lot and have been able to help with many different tasks that have given me hands-on experience for the fields that I am planning on entering. I will most definitely take what I have learned from the Honors College (during my time as a student and as a staff member) and apply it in my future endeavors.

I would like to thank everyone who helped to make my time as the Honors College GA a very wonderful experience. I wish all of the students, staff, and faculty that are a part of the Honors College the best of luck in the future, and look forward to seeing the program grow and develop under its current leadership.

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Bears In A Tower!

When most visitors and students first see Missouri State, they usually notice the massive tower in front of Meyer Library. Beginning my freshman year at Missouri State, I had no idea that there would come a time when I would play the carillon in that tower and be heard by thousands of students across campus.

During my first semester, I had to move from Temple Hall to Strong Hall for class in the afternoon, and nearly every afternoon I had the privilege of listening to the carillon. I soon started to pay more attention to how beautiful and unique the carillon sounded. I wanted to learn about this mysterious instrument and contacted Dr. Jeremy Chesman to find out more.

Meyer Library Carillon TowerShortly after contacting Dr. Chesman, I began taking beginner carillon lessons. I didn’t even know these lessons were offered to anyone at Missouri State! I also didn’t know that carillons are a very popular Norwegian instrument with literally hundreds in the area. In Missouri there are only two – one in St. Louis and one on our campus.

Pretty soon after taking lessons on a practice carillon in Ellis Hall, I was allowed to climb over two hundred stairs and play the real carillon. At first I was absolutely terrified about playing an instrument that thousands of people could hear. However, I soon realized that no one could even see me! After making several trips up to the tower I became much more confident in my musical abilities. I soon was able to play Norwegian folk songs along with classic Disney hits.

I have grown so much as a person through this experience, both musically and culturally. I can now appreciate the emotion and depth that goes into writing carillon pieces. It is also fascinating to think that perhaps a Norwegian student at Missouri State will hear a Norwegian folk song and feel a little closer to home. I would recommend learning carillon, or really any culturally symbolic instrument, to anyone.

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One Down, 7 to Go: Moving Forward in the Honors College

Well, my first semester was a good one. My honors classes gave me challenges to conquer, and it was great to be in classes that stimulated my mind in a different way than theatre does. I love learning about theatre and being in those classes, but I also want the most well-rounded education I can get. Theatre is an expression of real life, and it is important to have knowledge on a broad range of topics that can be applied onstage.

One of my challenges was exams. My exams came right after auditions for the spring shows at MSU, a requirement for members of the BFA program. This was hard; I had to balance preparing for important auditions and doing well for the Theatre and Dance faculty while still staying on top of my schoolwork and studying for my other exams. I think I divided my time very well. I stayed organized and managed to do well during the last weeks of the semester. I like to make lists, and that allowed me to have a physical representation of what I needed to do and kept me on track while I was working. It also feels so good to be able to cross something off those lists: accomplishments. I dedicated a lot of time to myself and keeping myself sane. I had to make some social sacrifices, but I divided my time well and still saw my friends during those crazy few weeks.

I learned a lot from last semester. My honors classes were great to be a part of and influenced my decision in the honor course I am in this semester, Ethics and Contemporary Issues. The smaller class size made me more confortable to speak up in class, and once I got comfortable doing that, I learned so much more. Simply going to class allowed me to be successful because so much happens in a short amount of time. So far, Ethics has been my hardest class, and I am working my butt off to get as much as I can out of it. I have never taken a philosophy class before, so the first week was a shock for me. I was very confused in class. However, I started talking and getting involved, and I now have a better understanding of what I am supposed to be learning and how I can get the most that I can out of the class.

My second semester is shaping up to be a good one as well, and with the knowledge I gained from last semester, I believe I am prepared to handle whatever is thrown at me.

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Back to My “Party in the USA”: Reverse Culture-Shock & Preparing for the Remainder of My Degrees in the Honors College

Hello again everyone, Cody Vaughn here!
This time, I’m reporting from more familiar territory: good ol’ Southwest Missouri! A lot has happened in my life since I last wrote (A Missouri State Bear Migrates South for Winter…) – I’ve come home from Australia, I’ve arranged to have my own apartment to stay in for MSU’s 2nd semester, I’ve celebrated a slew of special occasions (homecoming, several birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, etc.), and I underwent invasive surgery to have my gall bladder removed due to complications with gallstones (darn genetics…) I’ve been comfortably home for just about a month now, and I’ve spent my time working a seasonal job and making plans for the end of my college career at MSU. I’m entering the second semester of my 3rd year, but I’m well over a senior by credit hours, so I’ve decided to make some careful preparations to make my last semesters productive, valuable, and fun. The Honors College will certainly play a role in these goals, so I write this entry as both an Honors representative for any inquiring minds, and to ask some questions of my own.

But first, a special note about reverse culture-shock. Boy, has it hit me! Getting caught up in the stagnancy of living at home over break and fervently people-watching at work allowed me to observe the surprisingly different mindsets people of seemingly similar cultures can have. I’m in no way passing judgement or insinuating any sort of superiority present in the Australian culture, but I found many aspects of my life in Sydney wonderfully ideal. I got so comfortably used to even the most minute everyday differences that I can’t help but feel a bit jarred in trying to get used to a life much less urban, less coastal, less tropical, less eventful, and much less diverse. I’d go into specifics, but lest I seem like a bitter cynic, and for the sake of brevity I can address any cultural/lifestyle differences as responses to comments and questions to this post! Overall, I’d still say that “life is what you make it” and I’ll find a way to make my own little corner of Sydney in Springfield… I will miss all of my friends having Aussie accents though! Another change I expect to observe is the difference in academic life and planning out my schoolwork in the American system. Luckily, this is the style I am more familiar and comfortable with, so I am eager to be back in a system I know how to navigate and manipulate.

This is where I want some feedback from my colleagues, since I’m right at the threshold of making some major decisions affecting the rest of my educational career. I have 3 major crossroads presented to me; I’ll address each one individually:

  1. Being a member of the Honors College has allowed me the unique opportunity to pursue a special distinction in my Psychology degree, which is something I’ve researched and conversed with my advisor about. It’s a lot of extra work where I’d have to prepare a “mini-thesis” within the context of a big research project. Since I’m obviously interested in my subject the project may not necessarily be miserable, but I can’t help but wonder if it would legitimately serve a good purpose for me. All about learning for the sake of learning, but I’ve got a lot of other things going on for me and I don’t want to waste my time adding this to my degree title if the ideal hope of it creating some great opportunities for me doesn’t pan out. So my fellow academics, what do you think? Should I pursue Departmental Honors in Psychology?
  2. Another path I’m looking into is participating in the Accelerated Master’s program in my second major, Communication Studies. This is another thing I’ve spoke to my other advisor about, and it too gives me the chance to enhance my résumé  by devoting extra time and effort to my studies. I’m eligible for this program that would allow me to get dual-credit toward my COM degree and a Master’s in Communication. This holds more promise (who wouldn’t want to significantly shorten their time required in Graduate school?) but could potentially put strain on my schedule or even perhaps put me at MSU an extra semester past my 4-year degrees. Again, I ask the Honors College, what do you all think?
  3. Finally, my two former life decisions lead me to the inevitable: the search for a Graduate School. I plan on going into this, but this daunting task is just very scary to me. I know, I know, a lot of people go through this all the time… but any suggestions, pointers, or aids offered by my scholastic peers would be appreciated. I may even go overseas again if I can… the “travel  bug” has certainly infected me and helped me grow into a more independent person.

So much for brevity. Sorry folks, but if anyone has anything they can contribute to help me out I’d LOVE the advice. Comments, questions, and enthusiastic rapport about culture-shock/reverse culture-shock are also encouraged! Thanks everyone, and I hope you all have a joyous, eventful start to the Spring 2012 semester at Missouri State!
Until next time, this is Cody Vaughn – signing off!

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A Painless Process: Completing Departmental Honors (And Starting This Blog)

Pursuing departmental honors can seem like a difficult and intimidating process, but as I have learned over the past six months, it is actually composed of tasks Honors students enjoy anyway. I’ll admit my original motivation was a diploma that reads, “…with Distinction in Professional Writing.” However, I quickly realized it was an opportunity to more thoroughly explore my area of study, and it gave me experience in researching and developing a more intricate project than otherwise possible. And the project was actually fun! That’s not to say it didn’t require a lot of hard work and dedication, but the ability to choose a topic based on my own interests really made the work enjoyable.

Because everyone’s majors and interests vary greatly, so do their senior honors projects. But just to give you an idea, here is a little about my own experience. Though I only planned to spend one semester on the project, I began preparation the semester before. First, I chose an instructor who I have had several courses with and know I work well with—my advisor, Mrs. Tracy Dalton. Once she agreed to be my project advisor, we began brainstorming possible projects based on my major, my interests, and my previous work. In the end, we decided on an analysis of correctness in writing (something in which I’m experienced) in blogs (something I was excited to learn about). I then wrote up a project proposal for the Honors College and English department head, and I discussed details with Mr. Scott Handley, who was extremely supportive and provided vital feedback. After receiving approval, I quickly dove into research. By spending a few hours—maybe 12–15—completing these preparations before the semester began, I really hit the ground running.

As soon as the semester officially began, Mrs. Dalton suggested I develop an annotated bibliography, which really helped my research and the writing of the first two sections of my project: “An Overview of Blogs,” which explores the impact of blogs on writing, communication, and integrity, and “An Analysis of Writing in Blogs.” Though it may differ greatly depending on the project, students should expect to dedicate at least 5 hours a week, which isn’t too bad if you break it down. I suggest procrastinators, like myself, sit down with your project advisors to set specific deadlines for each element of the project—this isn’t something you can put off until the last month. Holding bi-weekly meetings with Mrs. Dalton really helped me get through the work.

Finally, for the third section of my project, I actually needed to apply my research. Although deciding the type and topic of a blog is often the most important and challenging step, the Honors College eased this feat with its need for an informal communication tool. One of the benefits of membership in the Honors College is the sense of community it creates among the students, who share a desire to learn and succeed as well as numerous responsibilities and challenges. An Honors College blog provides the community an outlet for ideas, experiences, and concerns. Therefore, I wrote up a style guide for Bear in Mind; I set up the blog with the help of the Honors College Graduate Assistant, Amy Legg; and I recruited several bloggers. I hope that in time members of the College will regularly visit the blog both to share thoughts and experiences and to strengthen our community.

So that’s my pitch for the blog and some insight into my experience with departmental honors. My advice: Choose a topic you’re interested in, and the work, regardless of its difficulty, will be enjoyable. Now that it’s finished, my work toward departmental honors is not just a few extra words on my diploma, but it’s the knowledge of what I can accomplish, it’s something I’m truly proud of, and it’s the start to a line of research I plan to continue as a graduate student.

I would recommend anyone who is even slightly interested explore the information available on the Honors College’s Departmental Honors page, talk to faculty in your department, and sit down with a member of the Honors College staff. Good luck!

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The Small Town Feel: How the Honors College Is Perfect for Students from Small Towns

As a high school senior, I was a little anxious going to Missouri State. I was graduating from a class of 23 and going to a university that had 20,000 people attending it. I knew what I was expecting from college life. After all, I had seen parts of Animal House. I knew what the popular conception of college life was—parties every night and attending classes when you felt like going.

Shortly before graduating, I found out that I was going to be part of the Honors College. This excited me for one reason at first: I got priority registration! I could get all of the classes I wanted and an early SOAR session. Then, I started looking at the perks that are provided to Honors College students, such as smaller class sizes. This gave me some relief because I dreaded being in a big lecture hall with 200 plus students who were judging you. During that SOAR session, I signed up for my first two Honors classes: UHC and English 110.

To my relief, both professors were pretty awesome at what they did. They strived to get to know their students instead of barely knowing your name. Not only that, but also they made sure that the classmates knew each other so the classroom experience would be friendly yet respectful. With a smaller class size, the teachers could also try various fun yet interactive ways to get their lessons across to the students. Being an Honors College student has allowed me to be a more involved student, both in the classroom and on campus. Without my experiences in the Honors College, I do not even think that I would still be a student at Missouri State. The Honors College has been a saving grace of my college career, providing me a small-town feel within a large city. I am so grateful to be a part of the Honors College.

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A Missouri State Bear Migrates South for Winter…

Hey Missouri State! Cody Vaughn here, reporting from the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia! I thought that it would be a good idea to share my experience with students back home at MSU while I’m still in the thick of it. I’ve spent a whole semester here starting in July, and I have just over a month left—however in terms of personal growth, I may as well have been here years! I have been extremely fortunate to be able to get the experience I have had here. I’ve enjoyed some of the perks I get at Missouri State here, like having a dining hall and living on campus, as well as some new things, like living with people from everywhere in the world and learning all about the culture of a fascinating new world. Australia is absolutely amazing, particularly all the people in it. One of the major things I will be taking home with me will be a more relaxed, happy attitude. The “no worries” mantra I hear all over Oz has really rubbed off on me, and I love it.

One suggestion I make to all students of MSU is to get out and explore. This could be in the form of studying abroad like I’m doing, or simply taking a holiday where you go out and see the world outside of the Midwestern U.S. I recently read a statistic that roughly 2/3 of Americans don’t even have a passport, and after finally going abroad and meeting others in the world, I finally see for myself just what a blinding effect this can have. Most Australians and otherwise that I have met are shocked that we don’t travel very far or very often, usually taking holidays in other areas of the states. If you have the chance —which if you’re a university student, you probably do – I implore you to GET OUT THERE. The world is awesome, full of things to learn and experience, and people to meet and bond with. One thing Missouri State urges us to apply to our learning is the ideals of public affairs. One of the ways they say you can do this is to be a more competent, globalised citizen. What a better way to become globalised than to actually travel around the globe?

While I’ve been away, I’ve had a unique experience in terms of being an Honors student. I’m very glad the Honors College prepared me for a higher academic standard because schooling runs quite a bit different overseas; I’ve noticed that in Australia things are much more based on independent study. At my school I was given a big reading packet for each class for the entire semester that I was supposed to read on my own for class each week. In most of my classes, nobody made me a schedule, reminded me to do my work this week, or gave me an assignment or quiz to check I had the material down. It all came down to massive finals and essay assessments at the end of the semester that usually made up more than a third of the grade.  While this is different from my experience at MSU, the Honors College helped me prepare for that by putting me in an atmosphere that emphasized independent reading/study and prized a scholarly attitude. They also helped me work out a schedule in which I could take classes for transfer credit here and still graduate with Honors. While I’m technically not taking any Honors classes here, I’m not worried about eventually being able to graduate with an Honors degree because the Honors College helped me work out a plan for my whole time in college. If you’re looking into studying away, I recommend making a plan so you know when you have some wiggle room to put something like this amazing experience in, even if it means working a little harder in your not-so-free time. If you came in with even a tiny bit of transfer credit from high school (I had a pretty good amount so I had a semester or two free), then this especially applies to you. You CAN study abroad and still do the smart, honors thing. (In fact, you’ll probably become even smarter as a result.) So look into it—you won’t regret it! Well I’m off to wrestle a crocodile and knock koalas out of trees, so until next time… this is Cody Vaughn, signing off!

 

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A Balancing Act: Freshman in the Honors College

When I first got accepted to MSU, I was ecstatic to be offered a spot in the Honors College. However, I was not sure if I could handle the scheduling requirements. I am a Musical Theatre major at the University; our schedules, to put it kindly, are crazy busy. I knew that as a member of the Honors College, additional classes and community service would be added to my already heavy load. I am not one to turn down a challenge though, so I enrolled in my first semester Honors classes: UHC (Honors Freshman Seminar) and Honors Sociology.

I have to say, I love being in Honors classes. Talking is one of my strong suits, and the smaller class sizes allow for more discussion than even I had originally anticipated. And the homework load is not that bad. I don’t know if this is because of the classes I am taking, but I don’t feel overwhelmed with extra work that a non-honors students might not have. (Does anyone else feel this way?) I also feel very comfortable speaking up and participating in class. Now, I am not a shy person, but I always feel self-conscious about speaking up in class and being judged or not taken seriously. In my Honors classes, I totally feel like I can say anything. It’s great! Because of that, I have a great rapport with my professors and the other students in the class. Hopefully that will continue throughout the semester.

At first, I was nervous about entering the Honors College. But now, I feel at ease and like I can handle what the coming semesters and classes will throw at me.

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Endless Opportunities: LOGOS: A Journal of Undergraduate Research

Roughly four years ago I received a letter in the mail, which offered me membership in the MSU Honors College. Not only was I unsure what an Honors College was, but I questioned whether I should take on such a responsibility as I was first beginning college. Quickly I realized, however, that the Honors College is not there to give students more work, but to offer us opportunities to consider more mature ideas and pursue activities and paths we otherwise could not. Specifically, through my Honors College membership, I have been able to work closely with its publication, LOGOS: A Journal of Undergraduate Research, with which I have been involved in nearly every conceivable way: as a contributor, an associate editor, the creator of the task calendar, the copy editor and designer, and now, the chief editor.

Although I began work with LOGOS for my own personal experience, it soon became something that I truly care about. I have watched as many, including myself, have not only been given the opportunity to be published as an undergraduate, but also experience and come to understand the publishing process inside and out. Upon being submitted to LOGOS, a work is reviewed by the Student Editorial Board multiple times and undergoes a blind, peer-review process, in which at least one Honors student and one faculty member carefully review each submission. If the reviewers consider the submission a candidate for publication, the work is sent back to the author/creator with the reviewers’ suggestions for final revisions. Finally, each piece is reviewed a final time by the Student Editorial Board, and ultimately, the Faculty Board. At that time, the final pieces chosen for publication undergo close copy editing before being sent to the printer.

In addition to witnessing LOGOS significantly benefit numerous students, I have watched as the journal itself has improved drastically. In its four years of existence, the number of submissions received each year has more than doubled. Thus, we have now become much more selective, bringing the percentage of submissions selected for publication from 57% to 33%. Yes—this does mean it is becoming increasingly difficult to be published in the journal; however, it is also becoming increasingly admirable to do so. And as we are all continually reminded, rejection is an unavoidable step toward success, and even the best writers, artists, and researchers get turned down (more often than not).

So, yes, LOGOS helps students, and yes, it is improving each year. Now, however, as the LOGOS team (bigger than ever) turns its focus to Volume 5, the journal is at a vital point and needs your support more than ever. Its presence has become widely know across much of the University, and with continued participation and reinforcement, the next progressions can soon be made in selectivity, prestige, and distribution. LOGOS presents an opportunity for Missouri State University to truly showcase what its students can do—and not just within one discipline, but as a whole. So bottom line—while considering the opportunities LOGOS can provide you, take into account the opportunities available to LOGOS with your continued encouragement and involvement.

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Life in London: Am I Really Still on the Same Planet?

London has become a second home to me over the past seven weeks. I remember when I first arrived and I was so nervous about everything, but that seems like such a long time ago. Since then I have learned a lot and feel very comfortable here in London as an American. One of my favorite things about London is the variety of people that you meet. I probably hear five or more different accents every day. Instead of just learning about the UK, I am learning about the world.

Before I left I managed to talk to Scott Handley about doing this study away program. He was very helpful and assured me that the program would satisfy my public affairs requirement for the Honors College. Honestly I didn’t know about this requirement before. He also told me that I wouldn’t have a problem with the 30 credit hours per year requirement either, since my program was only for 12 credit hours. Overall, I am glad I actually went there to get the information instead of just calling or emailing. I also got some pretty good advice about the rest of my classes and registration as well. Now we have registration for Spring 2012 to look forward to, or worry about. At least this time I don’t have to wake up early, because it will be 1:00 p.m. here.

One of the reasons I chose to study in London is because I already knew the language. I didn’t realize exactly how different actual English is from American English. At first I had a hard time remembering to say trousers, instead of pants, and there was a lot of confusion when talking about crisps, chips, and fries. I still don’t know how to request a dinner roll, since our American biscuits are called rolls, and our cookies are called biscuits here. There are still many more language differences that confuse me and whoever I am talking to.

At first I was really nervous that the people would not be very friendly, but after a few days, I learned that they are generally very nice and willing to help whenever possible. When I first arrived and had to carry my suitcase up the steps from the tube station, a British man helped me with it. I have a lot more stories about British helpfulness and politeness. Going into the shops is another thing. Generally the cashiers are nice, especially if you have cash or a local card. Sometimes it is hard to get the cashiers to accept my bank card since it does not have a chip on it like the local cards. You can also get funny looks if you pay with exact change or don’t wait in the right spot for the queue.

I have learned a lot already and still manage to pick up more information from daily interactions as well as my classes. Life continues as usual, but in a few days I will be making my way to Rome. Right now my time here in London is almost half over. Not to worry though–I think I may have to come back.

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