TRAVEL: Caitlyn Walley

Bula from Fiji! This is a word that we got very familiar with during our time in Fiji. It means hello and is said to EVERYONE. During the trip, people would roll down their windows just to say Bula while passing by. It was so different from here where your passing smile will be turned down by looking away. In Fiji, everyone was a friend. While in Fiji, we traveled to a few Islands including Beqa (Ben-gha) island where they do firewalking! We learned a lot about their culture and even got to go on a village visit where the children sang to us. We were there studying sustainability and were able to stay at a beach house that was almost entirely solar powered, which was one of my favorite places. The snorkeling in their marine protected area with a specialist was also a big highlight. This trip was incredible, and I will never forget the people I got to meet and the meaningful interactions I had while I was there. The kindness that they show there is something we should all aspire for our lives. I can’t wait to use the knowledge of island sustainability in my future career in Environmental Science. Vinaka (Thank you) UT Honors Program!!


I had the honor of accepting the Honors travel award to apply to my study experience at the University of Oxford this spring. I am so grateful for what this scholarship provided me, as it was the reason that I got to see Europe after the Oxford term was completed. 

As soon as my studies were wrapped up, I packed a backpack and traveled the continent for a full month. I got to experience Paris and Nice first, then Venice, Florence, Rome, and Pompeii (with my partner-in-crime Tori Walters), Prague, and Berlin and Dresden where I got to visit distant family that I haven’t seen since I was a young girl. To top it all off, my other partner-in-crime Lauren Marolf and I visited Dublin, Galway, and Edinburgh before starting our journey back to the states.

It was an adventure that I never imagined coming true, and yet it did. I cannot express my gratitude to the Honors Program enough!

Catie Valentino

Study Abroad: Cameron DeMarie in Peru

Traveling to Peru was amazing as my classmates and I got to see all the beauty the country had to offer. We started by touring Lima and visiting all of its best neighborhoods, learning about Peruvian food, customs, and traditions. We then traveled around the dry desert region to see an awe-inspirig oasis and ride dune buggies in the sand. After that, we traveled to Nazca to view the famous Nazca lines from small propellor planes and later drove to a vineyard to see fresh grapes being grown in Peru’s unique climate. Finally, we went to Cusco to see the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and learn about the amazing elevated city and its local culture. All in all, I learned so much about the Peruvian economy and culture during the trip and made lifelong friends in the process. I am thankful to the honors program for helping me to fund this trip and for allowing me to share pictures and my experience.

Slip Into Summer Social

Each year, Honors holds an end-of-semester celebration to recognize everyone’s hard work. This semester, the Honors Executive Council — particularly, the on-campus activity committee — put together Slip Into Summer. It featured free food from Taco Dirty, water balloon fights, and a giant slip-and-slide. Special appreciation goes out to Dr. Menzies; Carla Sykes; Caitlyn Walley (next year’s Vice President on the HEC); Austyn Keelty, chair of on-campus activities; Megan Darling, this year’s VP; Bailey Walker, this year’s President; Kelsey Little, social media chair; and Joellen Callahan from on-campus activities for making it all come together. And thanks to all who came out to help us celebrate!

Symposium: “How does green tea consumption reduce prostate cancer risk?” featuring Dr. Michael Carasto

Dr. Carastro’s primary area of academic expertise is in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. His career specialties are in molecular oncology research, as well as biochemistry and molecular biology education. The current focus of Carastro’s research is on prostate cancer and tumor suppressor genes. His symposium was titled, “How does green tea consumption reduce prostate cancer risk?” Dr. Carastro discussed his research focusing on the prostate-cancer-fighting effects of green tea. After the symposium, Honors students engaged Dr. Carastros in conversation by asking questions about his research and making connections to their own research and research interests.

Symposium: Why Boredom is Interesting: Understanding Proneness to Boredom in College Students with ADHD featuring Dr. Sarah Orban

Dr. Sarah Orban specializes in child clinical psychology, with a specific focus on identifying executive function deficits as mechanisms of academic impairments in children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Her symposium was titled Why Boredom is Interesting – Understanding Proneness to Boredom in College Students with ADHD. Boredom here means “an impaired ability to concentrate.” Her research investigates whether attention problems with ADHD are ubiquitous or dependent upon the students’ varying situations. Her work has practical applications about the consequences of boredom, which can affect depression and anxiety, inspire self-harm, binge eating, gambling, drug and alcohol use, work related accidents, and academic problems. Dr. Orban suggests that people with ADHD may be more prone to boredom due to a lack of attention control.

UT Honors Program Hosts Inaugural Spaulding Speaker Series featuring Dr. Robert Agnew

On March 31, 2022, Dr. Robert Agnew, gave his lecture, General Stain Theory: An Overview and Policy Implications.” Dr. Agnew is the creator of the general strain theory of delinquency in the field of Criminology. He explained general strain theory states that certain strains or stressors, such as economic problems and peer abuse, increase the likelihood of crime. These strains create negative emotions, including anger and frustration. Individuals sometimes cope with these strains and negative emotions through crime as a way to reduce or escape from them. Examples include crimes such as theft to obtain money; revenge against the source of strain or related targets (such as assaulting abusive peers); or use and abuse of illicit drugs to alleviate negative emotions.

During his visit, Honors students had opportunities to meet and interact with Dr. Agnew during hosted lunch and dinners. The students asked Dr. Agnew about his research, shared their research interests and career goals, and discussed the future of Criminology.

Honors Thesis: Losing Grip Documentary

One of our Honors Thesis students, Steven Nye, created a documentary for his thesis, overseen by Dr. Christopher Boulton, and you can screen it May 3rd at 2pm in the Charlene A Gordon Theater. It’s a documentary on the fate of Men’s Collegiate Gymnastics through the eyes of U.S. Olympic Team Gymnast Shane Wiskus. See more about it here. You can read about other Honors theses at Congratulations, Steven!

Southern Regional Honors Conference

Rachel Lane, Caitlin Cifaldi, and Megan Darling went to Birmingham, Alabama to present their research at the Southern Regional Honors Conference. Rachel Lane’s topic was “A Rehabilitative Approach to Correctional Institutions Using Evidence-Based Practices.” Megan Darling presented on “Pleasing the Male Audience: Erasing Female Agency in Works Inspired by Richardson’s Pamela.” And Caitlin Cifaldi’s paper was “How can we Protect Patient Data Without Sacrificing AI Performance?’ They were accompanied by Drs. Alisha Menzies and Kacy Tillman, co-directors.