Harvard National Model United Nations – Kaushal Vaddiraj

The UN Headquarters in New York City. Photo courtesy of Neptuul.
The UN Headquarters in New York City. Photo courtesy of Neptuul.

One of the opportunities I had while part of the Honors Program at The University of Tampa was attending and leading UT’s delegation at the Harvard National Model United Nations. The annual conference held in Boston hosts over 3,000 students from universities all over the world with the aim of simulating the workings of the United Nations. The learning curve on this experience is extremely steep and in the process of negotiating deals, building alliances, and writing resolutions, you learn about the importance of global collaboration as much as you learn about the world.

It matters to a certain extent what school you attend, and UT is as good a place as any. But it matters much more what you make of the school you attend. The Honors Program, in that light, represents a unique blend of opportunities that enrich your entire college experience and provide a boost toward achieving your life goals.

Honors Symposia – Enilda Romero-Hall

Dr. Romero-Hall presenting in the Music Hall.
Dr. Romero-Hall presenting in the Music Hall.

On September 22nd, 2016, Dr. Enilda Romero-Hall presented to an audience of Honors Program students.  Her presentation was titled, “Be part of the revolution: Graduate Students as Learners in Social Media Outlets.”  The symposium focused on the varied ways that students – both undergraduate and graduate students – can utilize social media to network, communicate with experts in their fields, and learn formally and informally.

Oxford Semester Abroad – Nicole Lampe

The Queen's College. Photo courtesy of Godot13.
The Queen’s College. Photo courtesy of Godot13.

Fifteen days, eleven hours and forty-five minutes.

That’s how long until I arrive at the London Heathrow Airport to embark on an epic journey that still seems unreal to me. I will be studying abroad at Oxford University during my last semester of my undergraduate career at The University of Tampa. It has been extremely difficult to imagine that I will be studying at Oxford University. Oxford is home to one of the most respectable socio-legal studies programs in the world. I will be an associate member there.

Just two years ago I was an anxious sophomore, terrified of public speaking to the point that I would tear up during presentations. Little did I know that my confidence and professional demeanor would undergo a unique metamorphosis when I joined The University of Tampa’s undergraduate Moot Court team, funded by the Honors Program. Thanks to the director at the time, Dr. Alisa Smith, and my fellow colleagues in appellate advocacy, I learned how to analyze case law and articulate my thoughts into articulate arguments. I also learned how to improvise and to have a conversation with a panel of judges. I finally became comfortable with communicating in front of an audience without anxiety consuming my thoughts.

Chief Justice, your Honors, and may it please the court. My name is Nicole Lampe and I rise on behalf of Ms. Andrea Sommerville in the case at bar.

I overcame one of the most difficult obstacles I had at the time. I am thankful to have had my fellow Honors students challenging me to become the best advocate that I can be. Later that semester, I took a leap of faith in myself and discovered more opportunities that The University of Tampa’s Honors Program possessed. I became involved in the Honors Council as campus ambassador and was chosen as a delegate of the 2014-2015 National Harvard Model United Nations sitting on the committee of human rights.

While I grew intellectually in Honors, I gained a passion for sociology. I started taking interesting courses that not only challenged me academically, but personally. In sociology of religion, my colleagues and I observed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints perform a service and had the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with religious leaders. In Sociology of Racial and Ethnic Relations, I became aware of white privilege and how to have difficult conversations about race with others from diverse backgrounds. In Sociology of Deviance, I had the task of cross dressing in masculine clothing on campus and discovered how oppressive gender can be. The lessons that I learned from my sociology courses have transformed my perception of the world and will be carried with me wherever my future takes me

I grew up in a small town in rural Indiana, where the main options for most young people were attending a community college or working in a factory. I dreamed about new adventures and I knew where I wanted to go. I wanted to be an activist, a researcher, and a sociologist. The University of Tampa Honors Program saw my vision and its faculty have supported me throughout my successes and failures as an undergraduate. I am deeply indebted to The University of Tampa’s Honors Program. Without their outstanding faculty and encouragement, I would not be the scholar I am today. I am especially grateful to Dr. Alisa Smith, Dr. J. Sumerau, Dr. Ryan Cragun, and Dr. Bruce Friesen for being wonderful mentors and for providing me the knowledge and resources I need to advocate for those who might not necessarily have a voice.

I now have the extraordinary opportunity to study among the best and brightest scholars in the world at Oxford and I am confident I will thrive during the tutorial process. All of this is thanks to the Honors Program faculty and students. I’m excited to embrace this life changing experience.

Timothy M. Smith Award – Kaushal Vaddiraj

(Photo courtesy of Anton Croos.)
(Sri Lankan elephants. Photo courtesy of Anton Croos.)

Seven years ago, I arrived at UT as a freshman international student, having made the decision to come to an unfamiliar country and a vastly different educational setting without so much as even setting foot on campus. That decision was made easier in no small part due to the opportunities available through the Honors Program. The experiences available through the Honors Program – meeting highly motivated peers, being part of engaging organizations such as the Honors Council, peer reviewing scholarly work through Respondez!, and presenting my research at collegiate honors conferences – represent the best of what is available at The University of Tampa. These experiences have been pivotal in what opportunities I received once out of UT and what choices I have been able make since.

In my sophomore year, I applied for the Timothy M. Smith ‘Inspiration through Exploration’ award in the hopes of traveling to Sri Lanka to work with elephants and teach underprivileged children. I was able to do just that and immerse myself in Sri Lankan culture. The month long trip taught me so many valuable lessons in community building, leadership, conservation, and a myriad of life lessons from the Sri Lankan families who hosted me around the country.

Oxford Semester Abroad – Tori Suslovitch

oxford.suslovitchIn Fall of 2015, I participated in UT’s Oxford Semester Abroad programme. This opportunity provided me the chance to study global perspectives of agriculture. My primary tutorial focused on the anthropological and environmental aspects of agricultural systems, while my secondary tutorial elucidated the relationship between food and public health. My experience supplemented my biology degree through exposure to topics in the social sciences, refinement of my analytical and writing skills, and focus on primary literature and dyadic communication. At my current internship at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, I often draw upon the scientific concepts I learned at Oxford, as well as the softer skills of travelling and living in a new culture. On a more personal note, my fondest memories of my Oxford experience were nightly formal dinners in the Christ Church College grand hall with my classmates, who are now some of my closest lifelong friends. I am very grateful to have had this experience and I would be elated to speak with anyone interested in applying.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me at: victoriasuslovitch@gmail.com