Merissa | Class of 2012

Hometown: Blooming Prairie, Minnesota

Major: Communication Arts/Literature Education

Involvements: College Choir 2009-2012 (Vice President 2010-2011), Theatre productions, TA for World Languages Department


Why did you choose Northwestern and why did you choose to apply for the Honors Program?

If I could have designed a major for myself, I would have put together the CALE major. Northwestern was one of a few schools in the country that offered it, and a publication I recieved from UNW caught my eye. I loved that the college offered choir and theatre for non-majors. The education program is extremely well-respected, and teachers from UNW are well-prepared. I loved the Christian focus and Christ-centered atmosphere. I visited over 15 colleges, but compared them all to UNW. I came back to Northwestern three times and kept feeling like God does great things here, and I wanted to be part of it. I applied for the honors program because I wanted  to be challenged, and I was intrigued by the events they host. Also, when I received the acceptance letter, it lifted a huge financial weight that I didn't even know I'd been carrying. I would not have been able to come to UNW without the scholarship.

How have you been stretched  and challenged as an honors student at UNW?

Being an honors student has helped me grow in my study habits and organization, built my critical thinking skills, and helped me be "interested in everything." I have come to love learning for the sake of learning - a valuable trait for a current student / future teacher! Through being challenged to think deeply and defend my views to others, I have come to value critical thinking skills. I am now passionate about encouraging students to think clearly and well in the classroom, so that they will be more prepared to either defend their faith or consider and accept faith in Christ.

What do you value most about the Honors Program at UNW?

I love that honors students are offered many various opportunities to learn. I know facts about wolves, fonts, heretics and advertising that I never have learned were it not for my fellow scholars. I actually really enjoy "geeking out" over something that someone else is passionate about and excited to share with us. I also love the field trips and the community among honors students. Those of us who have taken the same honors classes get to grow together, which I think is very valuable.

How have you changed as a result of being an honors student at UNW?

I have grown so much in my critical thinking and argumentation skills. I have improved as a public speaker. I have become more aware of world events, more interested in other subjects, and more excited about learning in general.

Tell us about your favorite or most influential honors class so far and why?

I have really enjoyed all of my honors classes, but I think the most influential was probably Honors Christian Theology with Dr. Helseth. In this class, we were able to debate essential questions regarding our faith, and I was challenged daily to rely on Scripture, the Spirit, and reason to engage in meaningful conversations. I also wrote a paper for that class on my future as an educator and whether or how I can teach Christianly. This was very formative in my thinking about teaching and education.

What is something that suprised you about the Honors Program at UNW?

I love how much fun it is - nothing like I thought it would be!

What opportunities have you had that resulted from the Honors Program?

I was recommended for the T.A. position that I have had for 2.5 years through the Honors Program. This job has been an invaluable growing experience, and has greatly increased my skills in communication, planning, and organization. I may not have had this opportunity without the Honors Program, and I can't imagine what my college experience would have been like without it.

What would you share with other prospective students considering applying to the Honors Program at UNW?

Select a strong writing sample for your application and have several people proofread it. Demonstrate your passion and ability in whatever it is that interests you. If you aren't settled on a major yet, explore your interests and abilities during your last year of high school, but don't stress too much about your major. Dr. Black says, "Honors Students are by nature interested in everything," so you can study anything and benefit from it. Start practicing organization and time management now - use a planner, write lists - whatever works best for you. Think about how you learn best, and then learn that way! Embrace your nerdiness, if you have it. Nerds are cool.

What would you like to do when you graduate from Northwestern? What do you hope to eventually do with your education? How will the Honors Program help you with your plans?

I'll be getting married in June 2012, and I would like to find a teaching job somewhere in the cities next year. I love working with middle school students, so that would be ideal. I know that my ability to communicate and reason has been improved by the honors program. Being involved in Honors and as a TA will look good on my resume, so I hope it raises my chances of getting hired. And the components I have completed will continue to shape my thinking and make me a better teacher.