- September 30th, 2020
For years, cohorts of Honors College freshmen have started their undergraduate careers by giving back to the greater Tuscaloosa community through Honors Action.
Honors Action is a week-long community engagement experience and course that provides students with an opportunity to engage in a meaningful community-based partnership. Participants complete a variety of service projects at schools within Tuscaloosa County. Past projects have included painting, constructing benches and outdoor classrooms, and landscaping.
This year, despite COVID-19 and social distancing, another cohort of Honors College freshmen visited Maxwell, Myrtlewood and Flatwoods Elementary schools. Each morning after completing the required UA Healthcheck and receiving the needed “green screen,” students boarded buses headed across Tuscaloosa County.
With masks on their faces, students brought exciting, new looks to these campuses from the halls to the outdoor learning spaces. These schools were refreshed for our youngest Tuscaloosans through projects like a ‘50s diner-inspired lunchroom, colored pencil columns, vibrant floral boxes and murals throughout the buildings
Upperclassmen, who have been through the Honors Action and served as project leaders, remarked how well students worked together and quickly forged friendships even from six-feet apart.
“Action has been so much fun for me. I’ve gotten to meet so many new people in my group and I love them so much,” said Ashley Ferguson, Freshman.
Ethan Sneckenberger reflected, “I’ve really enjoyed getting to paint and laugh, and just listen to music with friends. And, to get to know people here.”
While the service portion of Honors Action took place in the Tuscaloosa schools, the learning happened every evening in North Lawn Hall. Students spent their evenings in classrooms engaging in lectures, small group discussions and reflecting on the 2020 Honors College Common Book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton. This experience was the first of many the students will have in the Honors College as they are inspired to become engaged and empathetic citizens while at UA and beyond.
The students heard lectures from University faculty, Drs. Utz McKnight and George Daniels, as well as members of the Tuscaloosa community like Judge Sue Bell Cobb as a part of the Honors Action speaker series.
Evenings were capped off with meals from local favorite restaurants and outdoor games like kickball and capture the flag.
“I could not think of a better way than Honors Action to introduce our first-year students to our campus, community, and the Honors College. With the help of committed student leaders and our community and campus partners, we are able to offer an immersive experience for our freshmen during their first week at the Capstone. Action jumpstarts the study, service, and collaboration that we hope all our students will practice during and beyond their time in Honors College.” said Dr. Anne Franklin Lamar, Director of Honors Year One.
These students will carry this experience with them throughout their lives. As they reflect upon the week spent in an elementary school in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama– they will remember that at all times it is imperative that we serve our fellow neighbor.
To learn more about Honors Action and Honors Year One, visit their respective pages Honors Action and Honors Year One.