The Honors College offers students a highly personalized University experience. From small class sizes to undergraduate research, public service opportunities and travel abroad, The Honors College takes mentoring highly motivated students to a new level.
The Honors College was exactly what Aksha Narasimhan was looking for when she decided on the University of Nevada, Reno. The neuroscience and pre-med major knew from a young age she wanted to be a doctor and a researcher. The robust support for undergraduate research and the opportunity to be mentored by top professors was a big draw for her.
“I had all these ambitions coming to college,” Narasimhan explained, “I wanted to get involved in some kind of medical or scientific research.”
Through The Honors College, Narasimhan received a research grant through the Office of Undergraduate Research. By her second semester at Nevada, she was working at a medical lab specializing in epigenetics and fertility.
“I was definitely nervous because you hear that you will doing a lot of grunt work—a lot of cleaning— but within the first few weeks at the lab, I was actually working with DNA samples and PCR machines,” said Narasimhan with a smile. “It was definitely very, very hands-on. I was able to apply everything I was learning in my biology classes to a real-world environment in the lab.”
For 60 years, the University of Nevada, Reno Honors College has engaged, challenged, encouraged and promoted students with life-changing dreams, passions, and causes. After a thorough year-long strategic planning process during the 2019-20 academic year, the Honors College developed three flexible curricular pathways to accommodate students within any major(s): the Honors Baccalaureate, the Provost’s Scholars and the 1874 Scholars pathways.
The curricular improvements have been received with great enthusiasm. The Honors College grew by 30% in just one year and is projected to double in size in the next four to six years.
Finding like-minded students was a priority for Noah Calvert. Coming from Boulder City, Nevada with a population of 16,000, Calvert wanted a University experience that would stimulate his curiosity and challenge his intellect.
The Honors College taught Calvert that half of one’s college experience is the “grade you get in class” and the other “half is learning from your peers.” Studying, talking and learning with fellow students “helps you grow in ways that you can’t in the classroom,” said Calvert, an engineering major.
“The students in The Honors College are really amazing,” he said. “You meet lots of people who are incredibly smart who you can bounce ideas off of.” Encourage by his new cohort, Calvert is exploring his musical side. “I never even thought I would be in a performing group,” said Calvert, who plays the guitar.
Students work with program faculty and staff to imagine, create, and refine their Honors College experience. They are integrally involved as program committee members, peer mentors, co-architects of the enrollment management team and as leaders in the Honors Student Council.
Ku'uipo Gonzales-Reyes knew she wanted to go to college on the West Coast but it was her mom who encouraged her take a closer look at Nevada. The Hawaiian native and high school honors student quickly adjusted to life in the desert with the help of the Honors College.
Gonzales-Reyes says the faculty gave her the confidence to become more social and pursue leadership roles on campus. Currently, she is president of the Hawaii Club; vice-president of the Pre-Vet Club; member of the Archery Club and an Honors College peer mentor.
Friendly competition amongst her peers spurred Gonzales-Reyes to push harder academically. “You always compare grades,” and friends who got better grades “would just light a fire under me,” said Gonzales-Reyes with a laugh. “Alrighty, I’m going to beat you next time.”
In addition to academics, the Honors College encourages public service. For instance, the Bonner Foundation has partnered with the Honors College to provides financial support and opportunities for first-generation, underrepresented and/or low-income students to give back to their communities.
The Bonner Leader Program was a “pivotal experience” for Kayla Snowden, criminal justice major. The program helped her give back to her community and shaped her career path.
“The Honors College taught me the benefit of getting active in my community,” Snowden explained. “For example, I joined the Residence Hall Association as president. I became director for events for our Honors Student Council and I also volunteer 140 hours a semester at a local elementary school.”
The opportunity to study abroad and still graduate in four years, sealed the deal for Las Vegas resident Daniel Lindbergh Lang.
As a freshman, Lang tried lots of different majors and minors. He credits the “phenomenal mentoring” he received from the Honors College’s advisors for keeping him on track and helping him discover his passion for languages.
For Lang, the Honors College opened “lots of doors of opportunity,” but more importantly, the program showed Lang “how to go through them.”
As a sophomore Lang received a scholarship to teach English and study abroad from the Honors College. As a junior, he received a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Program scholarship to substantially improve his Chinese. That experience cemented his love of learning languages and helping others worldwide. By the time he graduated, Lang had been abroad five times. Prior to Honors College, Lang had never been overseas.
“Even after I graduated, I still have that confidence. When I learn about a new opportunity,” said the 2019 Senior Scholar awardee and graduate, “I know how to leverage that to get where I want to go in life.”
In response to the growing enrollment, Professor Jason Ludden, English Department has joined the Honors College in the newly created role of Director, Office of Undergraduate Fellowships. Ludden will be responsible for helping students apply for prestigious national scholarships such as Rhodes, Truman, Marshall, Udall, Goldwater, Gates/Cambridge, Fulbright among others.
The Honors College is also expanding the avenues for alumni, parent and student involvement. In addition to the newly established student emergency fund, committees are working on programming and outreach events, as well as endowment and Foundation giving. The Honors College Community Advisory Board, Parent Club and Alumni Task Force are busy planning events for a gala 60th Anniversary celebration in 2022.