The University of Houston successfully completed its first academic year, offering the Honors in Co-Curricular Engagement (HCCE) transcript designation, with eight graduates of diverse interests from five different colleges earning the designation. Students pursuing the HCCE designation gain a depth and breadth of experience that directly ties to their academic endeavors and professional goals. In addition to completing the experiential learning requirements, students must complete an Integrative Reflection Exercise that asks them to look back on their whole undergraduate career and characterize their growth and trajectory.
“I got involved in co-curricular programs because I wanted to feel challenged outside of the classroom setting,” architecture major and energy and sustainability minor Hugo Margain said. “I knew I should pursue the co-curricular designation when I realized that research opportunities led to other research opportunities and eventually to an internship.”
HCCE is an academic plan available to all undergraduates at the University of Houston, regardless of major or participation in the Honors College. “These first graduates represent the Hines College of Architecture, Bauer College of Business, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the Cullen College of Engineering, and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, in addition to the Honors College” said Rita E. Sirrieh, Ph.D., instructional assistant professor and director of co-curricular Honors. “This program provides students of any major an opportunity to develop their undergraduate narrative and incorporate different opportunities both within and without the classroom.”
The HCCE designation is the first at the University to recognize students who complete significant co-curricular programs. “I valued the opportunity that the Honors College provided to have my co-curricular engagement be recognized,” said finance major Sakethram Desabhotla, minoring in Phronêsis, economics, and management “I hope that the first cohort motivates more Honors students to pursue meaningful engagement outside of the classroom.”
A variety of programs, including learning abroad/learning away, professional development, internships, service learning, undergraduate research, and all co-curricular learning programs funded by a Cougar Initiative to Engage (CITE) grant, count towards the HCCE designation. Approved programs must include academic engagement, faculty or staff mentorship, and critical reflection to provide opportunities for application of concepts analyzed and discussed in real-world settings.
“I became involved in co-curricular programs as a way of complementing the material that I was learning in class,” said Keerti Rao, accounting and finance double major. “I was able to develop my interests and better my interpersonal skills by participating in activities such as study abroad, internships, and leadership programs. When I learned about the Honors in Co-Curricular Engagement designation, I understood the value of reflecting on those experiences, as well as having my co-curricular learning formally recognized.”
The HCCE designation offers a unique, hands-on opportunity for student engagement. Students must actively participate in at least two of the three program categories: undergraduate research and creative activities; community, civic, and global activities; and professional, scholarship, and leadership activities to earn the HCCE distinction upon graduation. In addition to the benefit of participating in these experiential learning programs, students pursuing the HCCE designation benefit from professional development and mentorship that enables them to recognize and communicate their skills, knowledge, and growth effectively.
“For me, it is important to take the abstract knowledge we learn in a classroom and apply it to the real world through internships, papers, and volunteering,” Galilea Escobedo, political science major with a minor in public relations, stated. “The Honors Co-Curricular [Engagement] is a unique opportunity that blends both of those desires in one place!”
The HCCE designation is finalized by a formal recognition on a student’s academic transcript, signifying their hard work and commitment to varied co-curricular programs. “The HCCE designation is an exciting opportunity to recognize students who have completed significant experiential learning programming during their time at the University of Houston,” Sirrieh said. “Experiential learning enriches a student’s education and help them develop essential skills and knowledge that complement their degrees.”
Students can learn more about programs offered, how to get involved, and eligibility requirements online.