By Jillian Holden
The Honors College recently held the 44th annual Fall Convocation ceremony in the Moores Opera House to recognize the academic achievements of 2022-2023 students and to welcome the class of 2027. This prestigious event celebrated the hard work, dedication and scholarly accomplishments of students from colleges across the University and highlighted students in both extracurricular and academic pursuits through the Honors College.
As new dean of the Honors College, Heidi Appel welcomed the 600-plus in attendance including the Class of 2027, the largest ever incoming cohort, and the deans from all UH colleges.
“It is a privilege and an honor to lead one of the top Honors colleges in the country,” Appel said. “I’m excited to support its bright future together with all of you.” She went on to note that integral to student success is the support, commitment and education gained from faculty, staff and partners throughout the University.
In her remarks, President Renu Khator challenged students to remain humble and recognize the people who have helped them in their journey. She emphasized a responsibility of a successful person. “When you are successful, pull and inspire ten more people to become successful as well. If you find someone, lend a helping hand. It will help them but also help you by making you a better person. Work towards a rewarding life,” she said.
Honors College alumna Safa Ansari-Bayegan (’13), staff attorney for the special litigation division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, presented the keynote addressby encouraging students to learn how to adapt to any unexpected changes in life, not to back out of an opportunity, and give back to the community whenever possible.
Brenda Rhoden, assistant dean for student success, followed, recognizing students’ individual achievements, spanning academic success, research, leadership, mentorship and service to the community. Alumni and Honors College Advisory Board members were also recognized, and faculty members were acknowledged with the following awards.
- The Bee and Kee Wong Faculty Engagement Award: Ben Rayder
- The Lerner Family Fellowship: Michelle Belco and Dustin Gish
- The Matthew B. and Tamara Steele Award for Teaching Excellence: Marsha Kowal
- The Ted Estess Award Winner for Academic Leadership: Rita Sharp
- The Vince and Louise Foster Award for Teaching Excellence: David Rainbow
The winner and runner-up of the 2022-2023 FrameWorks Fellows essays were announced by Jonathan Williamson, associate dean for academic programs and faculty affairs. Nine Abad was awarded the FrameWorks Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research Honorable Mention, and the 2023 FrameWorks Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research in the Interdisciplinary Humanities was awarded to Kalena Holeman. Their essays along with nine others have been published in the fifth issue of Frameworks: A Journal of Undergraduate Research in the Interdisciplinary Humanities themed, “Constellation.”
Convocation also acknowledged the students’ remarkable achievements in extracurricular activities, ranging from Bonner Leaders to students participating in Speech & Debate, Model Debate and Learning Abroad programs.
As the ceremony concluded, the Honors College demonstrated its commitment to fostering a supportive and stimulating community for its students. Entering students were encouraged to build relationships and collaborate with their peers, tap into the University’s vast resources and take advantage of the myriad opportunities available, setting the stage for remarkable scholars to continue their studies.
You can watch Convocation here: www.thehonorscollege.com/live2023convocation