Tori | Class of 2012

Hometown: Chatfield, Minnesota

Major: Applied Mathematics (Chemistry minor)

Involvements: Honors Program, Symphonic Band, accompanying vocal students, chemistry lab-prep person, tutor for any math, general chemistry, and organic chemistry


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

I had a brochure from Northwestern while I was in high school, and every time I thought about college, it seemed like UNW would be a great place to go. I was really looking for a place where I wouldn’t be surrounded by an environment that would be bad for me. Applying for the Honors Program was a no-brainer. I had always done well academically, so it seemed like this would be something that would keep my standards high and would help me grow as a student. I'd be lying if I said the money was not an incentive as well.

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

I have been challenged most by the honors classes I have taken. They have stretched my thinking and especially helped me to strive for a higher level of writing. The program has held me to a higher level of excellence, which has obviously challenged me. I have also done extra research in the form of components during certain semesters in my specific field of study. These experiences have helped me grow into a confident learner in my field of mathematics.

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

Honestly, I value the friendships I have made. Some of the people I’ve met through the program have become my closest friends. They are really fun people, but I understand the priority that homework and studies necessitate.

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

I’ve changed the most in the understanding I now have of the importance and place of knowledge and learning. I have come to a point where I truly appreciate these things for their own value. They are not my identity and are definitely not something to be worshipped, but they are an important part of my life, as I am a college student, a learner at this point in my life especially.

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

Honors Christian Theology has been the most influential honors class I have taken so far. It really stretched my mind and thinking, and I really learned a lot that I hadn’t known before. I also appreciated the way Dr. Helseth ran the class as a discussion and was able to keep us on track. We were truly able to explore the ideas we were learning.

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

I honestly did not expect that I’d have so many strong relationships with people I met in the Honors Program. They truly have become my closest friends, and I’m very thankful for that.

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

First off, I was able to travel to Scotland because of the Honors Colloquium that the program offered my sophomore year. It was a great learning and traveling experience, and I had a lot of fun getting to know my fellow travelers better.

Also, I would say that being a part of this program (while not being the sole cause) influenced me in ways that brought me to my research internship this last summer. I applied for and was accepted to a summer research opportunity (REU) in applied mathematics at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln the summer before my senior year, and it absolutely changed my life. It was the most mentally intense experience I have ever had, and upon returning to school afterwards, I had a new love for my math classes and learning in general. While this wasn’t directly related to the Honors Program, I was prepared academically because of the standards and opportunities of the program in order to actually apply for this research job and eventually get accepted.

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

Go for it! It’s a commitment of both time and work, but it is well worth it. College is more difficult than high school, so be prepared for that, especially if you want to do well. If you are up to the challenge, the Honors Program is a great way to stretch your learning and keep your standards high.

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 you with your plans?

My dream job would be to teach math or chemistry (though I am not an education major) in another country abroad somewhere. I love learning about different cultures, and through experiences tutoring, I feel that this would be an area in which I could serve God well with the gifts He has given me. I may, in the near future, come back to the states and pursue a doctorate in chemistry with the intention of teaching at a university, if I don't get sucked into research. The Honors Program has caused me to see the potential I have as a student and person. I have grown in so many ways that simply give me the confidence to pursue any crazy opportunity that comes my way. The extra research and other opportunities like presenting in symposiums will also be helpful resume material if I get to the point of applying to graduate school.

Tell us about: A life-changing moment? Something you'll never forget? Best place to study? Anything you'd like to share!

As much as you can handle, be involved in extra activities while in school, whether they be sports, music, leadership roles, etc. It’s nice to have those places and people that are separate from academics and the Honors Program.

But, be warned! Do not over-commit. This is my toughest challenge...every semester, and I get very tired. If you know before each semester what will be too much, don't get yourself in a bind where you are completely over-booked in your life.