University Scholars Honors Program gears students for graduate school

The University Scholars Program first came to Washington State University Vancouver in 1998 as a way to give undergraduate students research experience. After a 2011 curricular change, it became the University Scholars Honors Program. Students participating in the University Scholars Honors Program will work on their own research project together with a WSU Vancouver faculty advisor.

To qualify for the University Scholars Honors Program, undergraduate students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.5 or higher, complete at least 30 credits or more, and will have to be enrolled for at least four semesters.

Due to these strict requirements, Susan Peabody, director of the honors program, said that it is advisable for eligible students to apply in their sophomore year if at all possible. In addition to the requirements mentioned, students will also need to write an essay and submit two letters of reference.

According to Peabody, the honors program consists of undergraduate students from various majors. However, there are more business, history and engineering majors because students in these majors are required to do research to complete their degree. When students sign up for the Honors Programs, students will have to take four different 300- and 400-level courses. Students in the program attend these classes throughout their junior year. By the end of their junior year, students choose their mentor to guide them throughout their research.

Students in the program, just like faculty and graduate students, request funding to do their research. A student can request up to $1000. The students would have to submit a 10 to 20-page proposal that explains how they will go about their research, including their hypothesis and methodology. The money that students request for can be used to pay for supplies needed for the research as well as help the student recruit participants for their research project if necessary.

One of the students in the Honors Program, Jeffrey Posey, is currently a junior and a Biology major. His project for the honor’s program is about lung cancer prevention and his academic mentor Lida Dekker, clinical associate professor and director of the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Although Posey does not know individuals who have lung cancer, he said that he wants to find ways to reduce the likelihood and to get people to quit smoking in hopes to reduce the lung cancer rates in the State of Washington as well as the United States.

Posey has been working on his project for approximately a year. According to Posey, the main focus of his project is on lung cancer and his goal is to reduce the likelihood of people smoking. “I like it. It’s a challenge. It forces me to step outside my comfort zone, to work independently.” Posey said, when asked about his thoughts on the University Scholars Honors Program.

For students who are interested in learning more about the Honor’s Program, they can contact Susan Peabody by email at speabody@vancouver.wsu.edu or Holly Davis, academic affairs program and project coordinator by email at holly.davis@wsu.edu.

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