The Winter 2017 issue of the UT Journal featured the innovative living and learning community of the Honors Program. Here’s the excerpt from the Journal:
LEARNING WHERE YOU LIVE
Students looking for more integration between their academic and residence life can choose to live in one of UT’s learning communities.
Learning communities allow students to reside with those who have similar interests. Almost all residents of McKay Hall, for instance, are enrolled in the University’s Honors Program.
Designed to provide a study-intensive environment, the community also offers special programming organized by the Honors Program directors.
“Instead of a place where students just live, our goal is to make McKay more of a cohesive environment,” said Kacy Tillman, associate professor of English and associate director of the Honors Program.
The school year kicked off with a barbecue on move-in day. In the past, they’ve had a dozen students show up to the kick off, but with the addition of the learning community this year, almost all 440 new honors students showed up.
Other programs, which have seen similar success, include Coffee Conversations, where a small group of residents meet with a professor to discuss topics that are in the headlines, and movie nights on the Tuesday before each Honors Symposium, where the film correlates to the topic up for discussion.
“My hope for the learning community is for students to have the same kind of experience I did, where they take the conversation back to their rooms and debate on a topic well into the night,” said Tillman.
For Mallory Kuba, who is currently enrolled in the MBA 4+1 program, being housed in the Honors floor in the Vaughn Center made all the difference.
“I came to UT not knowing a soul,”Kuba, of Annapolis, MD, said. “But living on the Honors floor was a great opportunity to be around students who were motivated and engaging.”
I had the chance to study Business Ethics and Public International Law for the Michaelmas term at Oxford and I do not think I will ever approach learning the same. In that time, I wrote 12 essays which equated to around 48,000 words, which is quite amazing looking back now. I gained two key skills: problem-solving 100% on my own and being able to come up with an intelligent answer on the spot.
Prior to my time there, I had never learned a thing about International Law so I was clearly thrown into the deep end. Each topic I was given was completely new to me; I didn’t have classes to attend to explain anything to me – I had a library, full of amazingly helpful books. The feeling when you put together a 3,000-word essay that your tutor is impressed with from scratch and knowing you did it 100% by yourself is an amazing feeling.
The second skill is equally as important. Being able to intelligently debate and respond to your tutor’s questions shows them just how much you deserve and want to be there. This skill taught me to stop, really think about what is being asked and devise a response. The more I practiced in my tutorial meetings, the faster I was able to do it.
Overall, I truly think this is the most beneficial experience I will have in my university career as it has provided me with a unique skill set beyond the norm. For anyone who is determined in their learning, I would highly recommend this extremely demanding program.
As my study abroad experience comes to an end, I am filled with so much gratitude for this incredible experience. In my time at Oxford, I have not only met some incredibly intelligent students but also met super talented and passionate community members. I was provided with the opportunity to be a Director for the Oxford GlobalMUN conference for the Commission on Science and Technology for Development and it was so much fun. I’ve been involved with MUN since high school but in the capacity of a delegate and it was such a cool experience to chair instead! In addition to that, I was selected to be the Campus Director for the Hult Prize competition at the University of Oxford and it was by far the most challenging and yet rewarding event I have organised. For the last three weeks before the competition, my life followed Murphy’s law to the T! Everything that could’ve gone wrong, DID go wrong but I persevered through it all. I have also had some other cool opportunities to evangelise about social entrepreneurship and about my love for Tampa and I even got to speak at the Oxford Union and the Oxford Townhall! The community in Oxford is so supportive and passionate about social impact and that is a mindset I want to further develop in the city of Tampa. I can certainly say that I have had the best study abroad experience EVER and I am eternally grateful to the University of Tampa and the University of Oxford for this opportunity.
While at Oxford, I have studied Anglo-Saxon military and religious history, covering overlordship in the early Middle Ages, kings such as Alfred and Athelstan, saints such as Bede and Hilda of Whitby, and (my favorite) the changes in swords over the course of the six-hundred-year period. I also took the time to make as many friends as I could, whether they be fellow Americans with the WISC program (who dubbed me “Sword Nick” to differentiate me from the other three Nicks) or other Oxford students. I soon joined the pistol club, generally using air pistols but I also learned to use rifles as well. I even managed to get into a Victorian ball! Being here has been an unforgettable experience with some of the best days of my college career.