• October 16th, 2017

Five students standing in front of a wallBy: Sara Wilson

Put simply, it’s about students serving students. It’s about ownership. It’s about engagement.

The Honors College Assembly was formed by students in 2010 to emphasize, promote, and highlight the four pillars of Honors: Innovative Scholarship, Advanced Research, Civic Engagement, and Cultural Interaction. The assembly does this through innovative programming that is open to all Honors students.

“We’re all trying to advance within our majors and future careers,” said senior Andrew Dobry, president of HCA. “It’s a forum for students to connect to each other through academic and extracurricular interests.”

By virtue of being part of the Honors College, a student is already a member of the Honors College Assembly. The executive team, however, are the ones behind the scenes making everything run smoothly.

Norris Davis, a junior from Atlanta majoring in political science and African American studies, currently serves as the Vice President for Cultural Experiences and Diversity. He focuses on promoting diverse experiences, ideals, and groups on campus.

“I work to expose Honors students to diverse cultural exchanges that can give them a more robust worldview,” he said. “It’s more and more important to understand that we all come from different perspectives and backgrounds.”

HCA plays a role in putting on a celebration for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights celebrated in October each year. The event includes music, performances, traditional food, and even a henna artist. This year’s Diwali event is on Oct. 18 in the Ferguson Center Ballroom.

Additionally, HCA partners with other organizations on campus to hold the Crimson Culture Gala. At this gala, there is representation from the African Student Association, Hispanic-Latino Association, and the South Asian Society. Students are encouraged to dress in their traditional cultural garb, whether that is a sari, a cheongsam, or a nice dress with a strand of pearls.

Another point of pride for HCA is the First Friends program, which pairs international students with domestic Honors students in an attempt to burst the cultural bubble that can, at times, prevail on a university campus. Davis hopes to continue increasing the international participation in First Friends. He sees his branch of HCA as a crucial component of a well-rounded Honors education.

“We are a society in a global age with so much interconnectedness and diversity,” he said. “That’s not something you can escape or hide away form. It’s important to have these experiences now, before you move out into the world and have these interactions with people who are different than you.”

Vince Bolus, a junior from Birmingham majoring in biology, serves as the Vice President for Student Life, which aims to provide a sense of community and pride in the Honors experience. Events he oversees include the Honors tailgates for home football games and The Zone Watch Party, when Honors gets together to watch an away football game in the north end zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Bolus hopes Honors students take advantage of programming to get plugged into the diverse community the college has to offer.

“Honors provides a really unique opportunity to meet other people with your same academic skill set that can give you a well-rounded college experience overall,” he said. “Through that, we hope that people will take up more ownership with their own Honors experience.”

Dobry has seen an increase in collaboration during his time in Honors and as president of the HCA executive team. Running effective programming means recognizing similar goals among different organizations, he said. HCA and Honors Year One, for example, both want to engage first-year students, and that goal is much more achievable through partnership.

“Everyone has been very intentional about clearly identifying the goals of each organization and each branch,” he said.  “Once we can see how everyone is different, we can serve a wider group of people.”

In the future, he wants HCA to effectively engage every Honors student.

“We all have the drive to make the world around us a better place,” he said. “I want to evolve towards a culture of support for Honors students.”

The Honors College Assembly has an office in the second floor of Nott Hall.

“The door to our office is always open,” Bolus said. “If you ever have any questions about programming or Honors in general, don’t be afraid to ask.”

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