By Gregg Casazza – Contributing Writer
Allie Talarico explains what it’s like to be in the Honors Program, a Peer Mentor, and an Honors intern at Lasell College. She speaks on easing stress about components and reveals advice and opportunities for freshmen to get involved on campus.
Q: What drew you to be in the honors program?
A: It was daunting at first [as] a freshmen hearing about all the different things [I’d] have to do to stay in the Honors Program. But, I think I don’t like to give up easily on things, and I thought, “Let me wait this out, and if I honestly can’t do it I’ll drop out.” I wanted to see the challenges I could expose myself to and I didn’t want to necessarily give up on the program without seeing what I could do for myself‒‒I didn’t have any idea then what was in store for me now, and I’m so glad I said yes [to the program] because of all the opportunities that I have now had.
Q: What work do you do on campus with the Honors Program?
A: I work in the Putnam Faculty Offices below de Witt as an Honors Intern. I applied to have a work study through the Honors Department before I started as a freshman last year. I sent some general emails saying that I was looking for a job on campus, or a work study, and to let me know if there were any openings, and Stephanie Athey contacted me and we spoke about a potential internship.
Q: What do you do in your internship?
A: I work with Jamie McTigue and Hillary Brown, to do many things related to Honors Program, like planning the Salem trip, working on an Honors Newsletter, planning the weekend retreat for new Honors students, and making Component Spotlights which we did last year, by going through the database on Moodle for components and making concise summaries of components which stuck out to us.
Q: What are components?
A: Components are a really good opportunity for students to take something they are interested in, whether it is something from their major, or just a class that they are taking that piqued their interest, and explore that further than any class could. [Components] give the opportunity to do something [someone] finds really interesting. They are cool because they are more than just what you can get out the class itself instead [they] go further, it’s more of an opportunity to make [learning] more personal.
Q: You also mentioned planning an ‘Honors Retreat.’ Can you expand upon that?
A: This year’s Freshmen, went to a two-hour retreat on the weekend of September 10th and 11th to learn about the different resources in Honors Program. The retreat started in Rosen auditorium. I spoke about being a Peer Mentor and what kind of opportunities came out of that, and we presented a PowerPoint on components, resources in the Honors Department, different classes and opportunities offered such as the Honors Student Council, and the social media team.
Q: What else did you do at the retreat?
A: After the nitty-gritty “this is what you need to know about the honors program,” we always do a fun surprise event, and this year was a cake decorating contest. The students were split into groups headed by an upperclassman, after this, they went to their work stations for 20 minutes to frost and decorate a cake; the challenge was to decorate in a way which embodied who they were as a student and to reflect their different personalities and what makes them unique.
Q: What makes the Honors Program at Lasell unique?
A: It’s unique for a lot of reasons, primarily presenting multiple opportunities to go beyond the classroom. There are a lot of different things you can do academically but also on a community level and as a volunteer with the program. The Honors Program sponsors community service events such as raking leaves in local neighborhoods. The Honors Program sponsors these events and encourages students to do more academically, but also to push themselves to do things maybe [they] normally wouldn’t do‒‒or feel comfortable doing beforehand.
Q: Do you have any examples of how the Honors Program pushed you academically?
A: The Honors 205 class I’m currently in (Social Justice: Race, Privilege, & Intersectionality) is introspective, intense, and deep. And everyone is so involved and passionate about [the subject,] and if I wasn’t in the Honors Program quite frankly I’d probably never take a class like that. That’s why I’m really grateful to be in the Honors Program, and to be a peer mentor for an Honors class, and to be able to take a class like that because it inspires me to do more, and consider to do more with my major and minor‒‒I’m even considering double minoring now.
Q: You’re a Peer Mentor as well? What’s that like?
A: I really enjoy being a Peer Mentor for an Honors class. I’m really excited to see that the students are really engaged. In some classes you sit in awkward silence, but in [this] class students are eager to participate, and to talk about the subject. (climate change based science fiction) I know I’m not much older then them, but seeing new students come in with a readiness to learn, and not caring if it’s “not cool to raise your hand and participate in class.” I learn as much from them as from the professor, I sit there and get so many different points of view.
Q: How do you feel the Honor’s Program has changed your views?
A: I feel like I have a much broader sense of the community here, and when I do my internship, I have the chance to meet with English and History Professors in the Putnam Faculty Center. As they go in and out, while they are working in their offices with students or just milling around, [I] get to talk to them and form relations even if they aren’t necessarily [my] professor. [I’ve] gotten to meet so many different people that way.
Q: What would you tell freshmen who are considering the Honors Program?
A: I would assure [freshmen in the honors program] that even if it sounds challenging or daunting, it’s worth sticking with and working through it. Look for something that you are passionate about, and you can work within the program to take an interest and go further with it. No one is forcing you into the program, and you shouldn’t do it for anybody else. It is an individual experience but a really, really good one, and one that really broadens your views and academics as a whole.