Houston Endowment Scholarship recipients from The University of Texas at El Paso gather Nov. 22, 2019, at the Centennial Museum Discover Gallery for an event as part of the UTEP Honors Program. The program celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. | Photo courtesy UTEP

UTEP Honors Program celebrates 40th Anniversary

The University Honors Program at The University of Texas of El Paso is celebrating four decades of working hard to give students a competitive edge and providing them with premier opportunities that yield a foundation for professional success.

The UTEP Honors Program has produced many alumni who have become leaders in their own communities. Current and past honors students engage in campus, community or global activities beyond the classroom.

Toni Blum, Ph.D., associate provost for institutional effectiveness, said though different approaches have been utilized to enhance the academic and co-curricular pathways of Honors Program students throughout the years, the program has always focused on student engagement.

“We want all our UTEP students to be highly engaged in their education, of course, but honors students are leading the way, forging the new pathways and piloting the new ideas,” Blum said. “Students have been presented with enhanced opportunities to study abroad, with unique internship opportunities serving the local community, with special hands-on projects, and with opportunities to engage in independent research, guided by faculty experts. Most importantly, they’ve been invited to wrestle with big ideas and pursue bigger dreams. With our honors students as the ambassadors, we hope to lead all UTEP students into a more fully engaged educational experience.”

“The University Honors Program’s greatest achievement is our students over the years,” said Norman Love, Ph.D., a provost’s faculty fellow for the University Honors Program. “We have had some incredible graduates who have gone on to do so many positive and successful things in all fields.”

In the current honors program, students are asked to participate in four high-impact practices and meet other requirements to graduate with honors. This is incredibly flexible for students, as they will be able to participate in a variety of UTEP-sponsored or official activities that benefit their careers.

There are also scholarships that are exclusive to UTEP Honors students, such as the Houston Endowment Scholarships, for which the application deadline this year is Oct. 5, 2020.

Chiara Chanoi, a senior economics major, said that the University Honors Program offered her first experience with academic research, and established professional connections that later led to numerous beneficial academic opportunities.

“Over the years, I have been able to work with several faculty members of the Department of Marketing and Management,” Chanoi said. “This January, I was hired as a research assistant, in conjunction with the professor’s work with Zayed University in Dubai. Most recently, my work with faculty has provided me with the invaluable opportunity to become a published co-author in an academic journal as an undergraduate. Our article, ‘Gender Equality in International Business Education,’ was released by the Journal of Management Education this July.”

The program is currently working with deans and faculty throughout the University to help implement an Honors Program in each college.

Each college honors program will then be focused on creating student activities based on their major field of study, which will help develop students who are even more marketable for a job or graduate/professional school. A great example of this is the Liberal Arts Honors Program, led by Andrew Fleck, Ph.D. The Honors Program also works closely with the newly formed Office of Student Fellowships and Awards so that even more students may be recognized with national awards.

“Some of my best experiences in the Honors Program came when I met other highly motivated students in the University Honors Council,” said Aiyana M. Ponce, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in cellular and molecular biochemistry in spring 2020. “Students from various UTEP colleges were brought together to participate in professional development activities and bonded while volunteering at various community service events in the area. I am still close to many of these students and am thankful to have them in my professional network.”

The Honors Program engages outstanding contemporary and post-traditional students in innovative UTEP EDGE experiences that develop leaders, enhance confidence, improve critical thinking, and sharpen communication skills that benefit the student’s professional future. More than 600 students university-wide actively participate in the Honors Program.

To learn more about the University Honors Program at UTEP, click here.

Author: Darlene Barajas – UTEP Communications