Jesup Scott Honors College

 Student of the Week Profiles

 blaine luszcak

My favorite Honors staff member is Josh Martin. I’ve known Josh since I was a freshman when he taught my Philosophy 1010 class, which I greatly enjoyed. He transitioned into the JSHC and to this day he is still there to guide me. I really appreciate it.

Having just finished his chapter within the Jesup Scott Honors College, senior Blaine Luszcak says the unique opportunities provided by Honors first drew his attention. “I heard good things about the community I would be joining as an Honors student,” the Computer Science and Engineering major said. “I wanted to have access to networking and extracurricular events not easily Blaine Luszcakavailable otherwise.”

During this last year at UT, Blaine received a U.S. Department of Energy grant to participate in a competition called the “Solar in Your Community Challenge,” which he cites as his standout achievement. “Through the grant co-written by myself and another Honors student, Evan Nichols, we received $60,000 in seed funds to put solar panels on low-to-moderate income housing in Toledo and are competing for the $500,000 grand prize,” he said.

Looking back on his four years at UT, Blaine says his Honors experience has been a crucial part of helping him grow personally and academically within his major. “I think the Honors College helped me seek different avenues when problem-solving,” he said. “As an engineer, you rely heavily on being able to solve complex problems, but working with other highly motivated Honors students helped me to think differently,” he explained. “I greatly enjoyed going to plays with other Honors students, volunteering for Jesup Jam, and going to lectures that I otherwise would have missed.”

 Emily Grubbs

My standout Honors instructor has been Professor Shelley Cavalieri. Her seminar, “Human Rights and International Development,” was the best Honors course I have taken. It involved the kind of critical thinking, passion, and insight that I will take with me from my JSHC experiences.

“My coming to UT was contingent on my participation in the Honors College,” said Emily Grubbs, a senior Honors student. “When I visited campus for the first time, it was for an Honors event – so my UT experience has always been intrinsically connected to the JSHC.” A double major in English Literature as well as Law and Social Thought, Emily was attracted to the small class sizes, opportunities for experiential learning, and other resources the Honors College provides. “Now, coming to the end of my Emily Grubbsundergraduate career, I’ve taken advantage of all of these resources with ample support from the JSHC,” she said.

Emily has been working on her Honors thesis since her sophomore year, something in which she takes great pride. “I set ambitious research goals for my thesis and, once approved, collected my own, unique data,” she explained. “Since the beginning of my work, the JSHC has funded two presentations of my work. I was privileged to travel with fellow Honors students to Memphis and present at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research earlier this year. I also presented my thesis in Philadelphia at a conference specifically about my research topic. My thesis advisor and the Honors College have supported me through the most difficult and rewarding academic pursuit of my life thus far.”

Emily has spent this semester in Washington, D.C., interning through the Washington Center Program with Amnesty International USA’s Gender, Sexuality, and Identity Program. “During these few short weeks, I’ve partnered with Amnesty International’s Board Members to lobby congressional offices for our priority human rights campaigns,” she explained. “I cannot express how amazing this experience has been – easily the most significant professional opportunity of my undergraduate career.”

As her journey within the Honors College comes to a close, Emily reflects on the impact the JSHC has had on her. “I would say, first and foremost, the Honors College has allowed me to shape myself, giving me the ability to chase my most radical academic goals,” she said. “It has endlessly fed my hunger for learning.”


 brianna becraft

When I first toured MacKinnon Hall and saw that the professors worked in the residence hall, I knew that there was a close connection between the Honors faculty and their students. I live in MacKinnon now and have since freshman year – I love that the space is available for us.

Few aspects of junior Brianna Becraft’s collegiate experience have gone unenhanced by the Honors College. A Paralegal Studies major, she notes, “The Voice of Honors has had nights where law students and lawyers come in and talk about their experiences, helping me decide what I want my future to look like.” She added, “the Honors curriculum has provided me with advanced English classes that improved my critical thinking, discussion, and writing skills – all which will benefit me in law school and in life.”Brianna Becraft

As the secretary of Alpha Psi Lambda National Inc. and President of the Multicultural Greek Council, Brianna is passionate about working to improve inclusion and cultural competence at UT. “Before I came to UT, I had always been in schools and cities that were predominately white. I am half Hispanic and joined a Latino-based co-ed fraternity at UT that has taught me so much about my culture,” she explained. “I later became President of the Multicultural Greek Council and have attended workshops, conferences, and discussions about how to improve inclusion on campus. Watching my and other students’ ideas come to life and help others has been the most rewarding thing I have experienced thus far.”

On a personal level, Brianna says the Honors College and the relationships she has made within it have played a huge role in her college years so far. “I had the pleasure of being in Dr. Page Armstrong’s HON 1010 class during my first semester here at UT. She took me under her wing and worked to get me involved and comfortable here on campus. She also cultivated my academic abilities in HON 1010 and 1020 through deep discussions that I will remember for the rest of my life,” she said. “My Success Coach, Eric Gullufsen, has been there for me through class selection, improving my time management, and through some difficult times. All of the Honors staff is amazing – I don’t know where I’d be without the JSHC!”

 Isaac Petkac

My favorite Honors faculty member is Catherine Chengges, my HON 1010 instructor. She does an excellent job of incorporating literature into everyday life and collaborating with students during every class.

The transition from high school to college is made easier when you get involved on campus, something first-year Honors student Isaac Petkac can speak to directly. Isaac, a Media Communications major, is an active member of organizations such as the Jesup Isaac PetkacScott Honors College Communications team and the student-run radio station WXUT. “My biggest accomplishment so far here at UT would be taking over play-by-play broadcasting duties at WXUT,” he said. “I have broadcast football games this semester and am looking forward to calling basketball and baseball in the spring!”

Issac says he initially chose UT for the well-regarded Communications department and the diverse campus life. “I also saw that the Honors College has a variety of opportunities that interested me, which is why I applied,” he said.

During his first semester at UT, Issac has been able to integrate his Honors education into his specific areas of study. “As a Media Communications major, I relish the opportunity to improve my spoken communication with Honors professors and other professionals,” he explained. “I would encourage other Honors students to get involved! From our Social Media Team to The Voice of Honors and more, the JSHC offers a variety of opportunities for all students.”

 alexis wei

My favorite Honors staff member would have to be Josh Martin. He is one of the most approachable, kind-hearted, and caring individuals I know at The University of Toledo!

Alexis Wei joined the Honors College for a gateway to opportunities, a chance to focus her interests, and to be challenged. “The Honors College has given me opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have – research, personalized classes, Honors advising, and Honors trips,” she said. A junior in the Pharmacy program, UT’s strength in those areas and its sense of community and inclusiveness appealed to her as a college applicant. Alexis is a P1 Pharmacy student in her first year of the Pharmacy professional division.Alexis Wei

Alongside her academic achievements, Alexis is heavily involved around campus, fulfilling leadership roles in multiple organizations. She serves as the treasurer of the Vietnamese Student Association, volunteer chair of the Filipino American Association, a JATO Leader, a volunteer tutor for Student Outreach and Support, and is involved in Levis Leadership. Alexis says that her leadership and involvement have been a key component of her collegiate career. She is also a member of the Honors Learning Community, the Foodie Club, as well as the Pharmacy organizations Student National Pharmaceutical Association and Student College of Clinical Pharmacy.

Alexis says the Honors College has played a significant part in shaping her college experience, whether it was taking a class that changed her perspective or making connections. “Through the JSHC and the Honors Learning Community, I’ve made close bonds with advisers and faculty while meeting many of my closest friends at UT,” she said.

 eanas abutaha

“The Honors College has enriched my interests by providing countless opportunities for social impact, positive influence, and personal creativity.”

Eanas Abutaha says that if there is one thing to know about her, it is that she loves to challenge herself. “After graduating as valedictorian from my high school, I knew that I wanted to continue fulfilling every fraction of my potential,” the sophomore Honors student said. “I felt that the Jesup Scott Honors College was the door to just that!”

Eanas AbutahaEanas is a Biology major with a concentration in Pre-Dentistry, something that she passionately pursues through research at UT. “I was offered a stipend by the Office of Undergraduate Research last summer. I have committed over 500 hours to understanding and determining the gene expression of IL-17 and IL-23 in radiotherapy-induced Oral Mucositis and gave a presentation at the End of Summer Research Symposium,” she explained. “Now I am training incoming undergrads on different lab duties and procedures while working on another research project in Dr. Heather Conti’s lab.”

As an Honors College Ambassador, the Secretary of Phi Eta Sigma, a tutor for the UT Chapter of the Syrian American Medical Society, and an Appointed Senator in Student Government, Eanas has truly used her drive to make a difference in her field of study and at UT. “The Honors College has not only provided me with an atmosphere of highly motivated students and supportive faculty, but has also offered me countless opportunities,” she said. “It continues to enhance my overall Rocket experience.”

 toriano drane

“My favorite study spot in MacKinnon Hall is the room across from Dr. Mann’s office with the huge television and multiple couches. It is always dead silent and allows me to focus on my studies.

Toriano Drane, an Honors student studying Business, recognized the benefits of the Honors College even before applying to it as a current student. “What piqued my interest in joining were the extended opportunities given to Honors students,” he said. “I wanted to connect with others possessing the same academic drive as myself.”Toriano Drane

A junior, Toriano has secured an upcoming internship with Ernst & Young in Toledo and has served as President of Campus Activities and Programming, one of the largest organizations on campus. “It took a lot of confidence to go through with taking that opportunity,” he explained. “It has since provided me with a plethora of benefits, meeting many new people and making long-lasting connections.”

Since joining the JSHC nearly three years ago, Toriano says that his Honors education has contributed notably to his success. “The Honors workload has made me more self-sufficient by managing my time efficiently,” he said. “I strongly encourage students to enroll in the Jesup Scott Honors College, mainly because it helps you develop into the ‘ideal college student.’ I notice that when employers see my résumé, they always speak highly of me solely based on my enrollment in Honors.”

 shhreyaa mande

“The Honors staff has been so approachable since the beginning, making my transition to America smooth and easy.”

A junior in Political Science, Honors student Shhreyaa Mande has had quite the adjustment coming to UT. As an international student from India, choosing the right university was a decision she took very seriously. “When I came across The University of Toledo, the professors in my department, internship opportunities, and the healthy environment really caught my attention,” she said.

Shhreyaa MandeShhreyaa is a member of the Political Science Students Association and the International Students Association. She is also an active participant in many Honors events, such as trips to the Toledo Symphony and Art Museum. This kind of involvement is what Shhreyaa says has helped her grow at UT. “I have been exposed to so many opportunities within and outside my field of study,” she explained. “All the credit goes to UT, and even more so the Jesup Scott Honors College because they have given me the chance to be a part of these amazing activities.”

Only halfway through her journey at UT, Shhreyaa is hopeful that other international students can benefit from the Honors College in the same ways she has. “I believe the Honors College has been an integral part of changing me as a person,” she said. “The love and support of the Honors professors, particularly Dr. Page Armstrong, my Success Coach, and my fellow peers keep me motivated to excel in everything that I do. Whether I have a question about registration, need help with an essay, or am feeling homesick, everyone has been so helpful. Going forward, I hope to give the same love and warmth to my fellow and future Honors students so that they feel at home here at UT.”

 Lauren bahonsua

“With the Honors College, I have been able to make the most of my experience at UT. I am constantly surrounded by Success Coaches, other mentors, and fellow students that I could always go to for personal or professional advice.”

Lauren Bahonsua, an Honors Pharmacy student and junior, has keenly felt the benefits of an Honors education during her time at UT. “My interest with the university started with the College of Pharmacy,” she said. “I joined the JSHC to provide myself with the resources I need for a successful academic career.”Lauren Bahonsua

Through her studies and involvement on campus, Lauren says that the development of her leadership skills has been her greatest accomplishment at UT. “For most of my life I’ve felt more like a follower than a leader, but after joining the Honors College, I was able to step out of my comfort zone,” she explained. Lauren has been involved in organizations such as the Honors Learning Community, Foodie Club, and the JATO Network, and has attended the JSHC Distinguished Lecture Series and the Honors trip to Cedar Point. “Thanks to the Honors College, I have become more active with organizations around campus, volunteered at events, and took on leadership positions that have allowed me to grow as a person,” she said.

As an out-of-state student who had a hard time adjusting to a new place, Lauren says that the JSHC and the experiences she shared with her Honors peers was a key factor in making UT feel like home. “The Honors College provided me with a community of people I can depend on,” she said. “Whether we were going to Cedar Point or staying up until midnight together for a stressful evening of registering for classes, it was so helpful to be surrounded by a group of students like myself.”

 jenna bedrava

“My Honors classes are student-led, which makes a huge difference for me. They give me the opportunity to hear from a lot of different perspectives rather than just my professor’s.”

Jenna Bedrava, a sophomore Honors Student, set her sights on UT because of her chance to make an impact. When she did, she not only chose Mathematics with a concentration in Actuarial Science, but she also opted for the Jesup Scott Honors College. “I Jenna Bedravawanted to push myself academically like I had in high school,” she said. “I felt at home and knew that I could make more of a difference here than at a larger school.”

As a member of a number of campus organizations, Jenna has strived to make an impact and get involved. She has joined Alpha Phi Omega, a community service-based fraternity, Chi Omega, a women’s social fraternity, Active Minds, a mental health awareness organization, and is a Team Leader for Liftoff UT. “I came to Toledo to make a difference, whether in the lives of one person or an entire organization,” she explained.

Through these groups, Jenna has worked towards causes such as helping the homeless in Toledo, raising money for cancer research and the Children’s Miracle Network, promoting mental health awareness on campus, mentoring incoming first-year students, and aiding the Northwest Ohio Make-A-Wish Foundation. “Being active on campus has been such a great way to meet people that share the same values and goals that I do,” she said. “Those I have met here are ones that will be lifelong friends.”

Jenna has too enjoyed the perks of an Honors-style classroom. “I love my Honors courses because they’re so personal and discussion-based,” she added. “I have found that my peers in the JSHC are well-rounded and cultured, which makes the classes insightful and thought-provoking.”

 gabrielle hymel

“The Honors College has pushed me to be more aware of the needs and wants of others, and it has encouraged me to use critical analysis in my everyday work.”

Gabrielle Hymel, an Honors student and Biochemistry major, fell in love with the University of Toledo in part due to the Jesup Scott Honors College. “I unintentionally joined the Honors College - I checked a box when applying to UT that said I would like to be considered and received a letter a few weeks later saying that I had been accepted,” she said. “I have remained in the Gabrielle HymelHonors College because of the opportunities that it provides, for the Honors lectures, and for the incredible faculty. Through the JSHC, I have travelled abroad on a Spring Break trip, started my involvement in undergraduate research, and increased my involvement in the Toledo community.”

Outside of the classroom, Gabrielle focuses on her passion for student activism, specifically sexual assault prevention and Title IX policy reform. Beginning nearly a year ago, she has been working with multiple organizations to start programs fighting sexual assault culture and to raise awareness of toxic relationships along with the risks of assault. “The project as a whole is likely my biggest accomplishment,” she said. “I helped form a student organization called ‘Rockets Against Sexual Assault,’ was trained to be a OneLove Program Facilitator, have done research on behalf of our Ad Hoc Title IX Committee, pushed Residence Life to now require that RAs bring their residents to at least one program regarding sexual assault prevention/sexual wellness per semester, and am currently working with offices on campus to increase student advocacy as well as awareness of resources.”

The Honors College, Gabrielle says, has been a key factor in the way she views her work and her collegiate experiences. “The curriculum functions on the diversity of our student population and centers on the diversity of our communities,” she explained. “The Honors College has constantly pushed me to be conscious of the impacts of my work.”

 Farrah Alarmanazi

"When my sister and I started our own student organization last year, we received great support from the Honors College. Many students and faculty helped out by either volunteering or donating materials.”

Farrah Alarmanazi, a Biology Pre-Med major and an Honors student, has excelled in student leadership during her time at UT. Now in her senior year, Farrah says she chose UT and the Jesup Scott Honors College for the opportunities to get involved on Farrah Alarmanazicampus as well as its excellence in academics, research, and student diversity. “Whether in research, academics, organizations, or faculty, the Honors College always provides me with the best experience I could ask for,” she explained.

With a resumé listing accomplishments such as being a JATO leader, the Balch Fellowship, neuroscience research, and multiple Outstanding Pre-Med Student Scholarships, Farrah identifies her dearest accomplishment as one that focuses on helping others.

“With the increasing number of refugees in Toledo, my sister Marah and I started an organization last year to assist the refugees educationally, medically, and socially,” she said. Farrah and her sister invite speakers to talk with students about opportunities to get involved on campus and also started a tutoring program for the refugee children. “We were able to win awards on campus such as UT’s ‘Parks Outstanding New Student Organization’ and the ‘Parks Outstanding Service Program.’ In addition, we received funding from other community organizations for our refugee Family Education Program,” Farrah added. “We are growing even further this year with more than 200 members, collaborations with other community organizations, and an English-as-a-Second-Language adult section for the parents, too!”

Ready to take on her senior year as a leader on campus and in the community, Farrah sees the Honors College as a key piece of her collegiate career. “The Honors classroom structure with its small class sizes, always allowed me to express my ideas,” she explained. “Joining the JSHC enhanced my educational and cultural experience beyond my expectations; it encouraged me to challenge myself and work to the best of my abilities.”

 Syyeda Mehdi

“One of my biggest passions has always been to be a leader in my community, and the Honors College has encouraged me to do just that.”

Syyeda Mehdi, a junior studying Pharmacy, has a lot of passion for the Jesup Scott Honors College and how it has impacted her collegiate career. She chose UT in the first place because of the JSHC. “Since day one, the Honors College has been helpful, kind, and always available when I need it,” she said. “It is filled with faculty and students who are accepting and encouraging.”Syyeda Mehdi

Syyeda has participated in psychology research and held leadership positions on the executive boards of multiple student organizations. “I served as the Media Officer for the Muslim Student Association and, together with the rest of the executive board, we earned the award for ‘#1 Student Organization at UT,’” she said. Syyeda is currently the president of The Voice of Honors and recently added a community service segment to their weekly Wednesday meetings. Last week, the Voice made PB&J sandwiches for the homeless. In coming weeks, the group is planning to participate in an event helping Syrian refugees residing in Toledo and to partner with the P.E.A.C.E. Project, where they will mentor students who have been bullied. “Serving the community is what UT has always done and I feel that it is only my duty to do the same,” Syyeda explained.

In her three years so far at UT, she has used the benefits and opportunities that the Honors College has given her to help others and make a difference on campus. “The Honors College has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and join activities that I would have never thought I’d be a part of,” she explained. “I have made several new friends here and I am very thankful for everything it has given me. I would highly encourage students to become active participants in the JSHC; you won’t regret it!”

 Luke Gorbett

“My favorite part of the Honors College has been the interaction with other Honors students who have like-minded goals that motivate me to succeed.”

Sophomore Honors student, Luke Gorbett, has reaped the benefits of academic and campus involvement opportunities during his two years at UT. Luke, a Presidential Scholar and Chemical Engineering major, chose Toledo for its highly ranked Engineering programs. “I felt like it would give me the best opportunity to grow both academically and professionally, especially Luke Gorbettdue to the College of Engineering’s mandatory co-op program,” he explained. “Once I was accepted into the University, I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to join the Jesup Scott Honors College because I wanted to continue to challenge myself and my way of thinking.”

About to embark on his first co-op rotation next semester, Luke describes his biggest accomplishment thus far as getting involved in the University of Toledo Engineering Council (UTEC). “I am excited to become more involved in UTEC and potentially join the executive board at some point in my college career,” he said. “By being a member of UTEC, I will be able to positively impact UT’s College of Engineering.”

This past summer, Luke traveled to Europe through funding from the UT. There he visited a multitude of countries including Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. “UT and the Honors College have encouraged me to always take the extra step,” he said. “The JSHC has enhanced my education by providing an environment that genuinely challenges me.”

 Jason gonring

“The Honors College has cultivated my curiosity by connecting me to other students who have a thirst for knowledge and providing me countless opportunities to turn my curiosity into understanding through research and experience.”

Jason Gonring, a junior studying Electrical Engineering and a Toledo local, knew early on the opportunities he had and the strides he wanted to make as a UT Student and member of the Honors College. “In UT, I saw a university dedicated to its students and to Jason Gonringpushing the boundaries of knowledge through research,” Jason explained. “In the Honors College, I saw great opportunities to get involved in that research and to enhance my studies with immersive, multidisciplinary learning experiences.”

With a resumé showcasing involvement in the Honors Student Ambassadors, UT Engineering Council, First Year Rocket Engineers, Ohio’s Sustainable Energy Future, and the Roy and Marcia Armes Engineering Scholarship Institute, Jason has used his time thus far to get heavily involved in his field of study and within the Honors College.

“My greatest accomplishment thus far would have to be the Undergraduate Research Project that I completed for Honors Professors Dr. Barbara Mann and Dr. Page Armstrong, also known as the two ‘Buffalo Girls,’” he said. Jason completed a feasibility study on the use of solar power to supply all of the energy needs for a bison ranch that Dr. Mann and Dr. Armstrong are working to create in the Greater Toledo Area. He also worked to analyze efficient and environmentally safe ranching processes that would maximize animal comfort and minimize financial and environmental costs. “I am very proud of the work I have done and I hope that it proves to be a solid engineering foundation for the Buffalo Girls project,” he explained. “When completed, the Buffalo Girls hope to use the project to provide similar research and internship opportunities to future Honors Students.”

Being a part of the Honors College has not only given him opportunities for academic and leadership advancement, but also relationships with students and faculty that have made quite the impact on his collegiate experience. “Learning from these individuals has given me a variety of lenses through which to see the world. “I am proud to be a part of the great community of leaders, intellectuals, change-makers, and friends that make up the Honors College.”

  Celine schreidah

The Honors College has allowed me to meet a diverse group of students and given me access to opportunities that have been cornerstones of my collegiate career.

As a proud Toledo native, junior Celine Schreidah has taken advantage of every academic, leadership, and social opportunity available to her. Celine is a Presidential Scholar studying Biochemistry on the Pre-Med track, and has a long list of achievements on Celine Schreidahcampus and in the Honors College. “I grew up under the university’s influence and admired how closely knit UT is with the city of Toledo,” she said. “I valued that community connection and wanted to contribute to it during my college years.”

And contribute she has – as President of the UT Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society, Vice President of Communications for The Bridge, an Honors College Ambassador, Vice President of Free Pizza Improv, a tutor for the UT Chapter of the Syrian American Medical Society, and an Award of Excellence Winner for Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society.

Along with her influence on campus, Celine has been making strides nationally. She spent her summer participating in a Harvard University summer research program at Massachusetts General Hospital – an opportunity with a 4% acceptance rate. This distinction was thus statistically harder to earn than admission to Harvard itself! Celine identifies her grandest accomplishment thus far at UT, though, as her success at the American Chemical Society National Conference in San Francisco, a trip the Honors College helped fund. “Our chapter was awarded the Outstanding Student Chapter and the Green Chemistry Awards, both given to the top 5% of chapters nationwide,” she explained. “It was a testament to the hard work we have put in and I was able to present my undergraduate research on the national level!”

Hard work, determination, and the influence of UT Honors has made Celine’s college career so successful. “The Honors College has encouraged me to be the best collegian I can be, through intellectual and community development,” she said. “I’ve been pushed to join discussions and steer conversations in my Honors classes, exploring topics I wouldn’t have been able to. It’s widened my worldview and shown me the possibilities for my future.”

  Olivia Sagan

“The Honors College has opened so many doors for me that I did not think were possible at a large university.”

Only days away from receiving her Honors Medallion, senior Olivia Sagan has truly made the most of her four years at UT. A Biology student on the Pre-Med track, Olivia has a long list of academic achievements under her belt. These include the Olivia Saganaccelerated Baccalaureate to MD program, the Salford Exchange Program, extensive undergraduate research, and participation in the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. “I will always be thankful for the opportunities I’ve had here and incredibly proud of the work I have done,” she said.

Olivia was attracted to UT for its size and opportunities in the BAC/MD program, which offers promising undergraduate students interested in a medical career streamlined admission to UT’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences. Considering all of this, she said that “going Honors” seemed like the natural next step in her educational journey. “I was very involved in high school with honors and Advanced Placement classes,” she explained. “The Honors College at UT was the best way for me to not only advance my learning, but also to be a part of a community that feels the same way about and supports the educational process.”

As her time as an undergraduate comes to a close, Olivia identifies one of her biggest accomplishments as the current research that she is doing. “All of my academic work has been able to be used in a physical context, which is not only satisfying, but honestly really cool,” she said. “I feel like a member of the greater scientific community and was able to present my research on a national level, which was a huge accomplishment.”

Before she embarks on her next step, Olivia reflects on what the Honors College has meant to her in her undergraduate years. “I met so many people in the Honors Learning Community my freshman year that have become my closest friends and my support system. The Honors College has given me opportunities that have made me who I am today,” she said.

 Kebron assefa

“I see the Honors College as so many opportunities for myself and a chance to widen my horizons.”

A freshman studying Biology, Kebron Assefa has had a different adjustment period than most students here at UT. Kebron is an Kebron Assefainternational student from Ethiopia, something she says has entailed the ultimate learning curve. “When I got here, I had to learn an entirely new teaching system and a new culture at the same time,” she said. “My professors have been so helpful, which just makes me love UT even more.”

Academically, Kebron says she is proud of the relationships she’s been able to form with her professors. “Even in huge lecture halls, I’ve really gotten to know them and they’ve gotten to know me,” she explained. “Not only is that good for recommendations, but it makes me proud to know I have gone the extra mile.”

Kebron was drawn to the Honors College for the small class sizes and chances to learn beyond her major. She joined after her first semester at UT, adding to a long list of campus involvement. This includes the Ethiopian Student Association, the International Students Association, the African People’s Association, and voluntary tutoring. “I wish I joined the Honors College earlier so that I could have gotten more involved in it this year – but I’m excited to do just that in the coming years,” she said.

 Francis Mok

“I joined the Honors College because I believe that it is incredibly important to challenge yourself intellectually every day.”

In only two semesters, freshman Francis Mok has proven that he is determined to make a change and get involved here at UT. An Electrical Engineering major, an active photographer, and a native of Toledo, Francis says that he chose UT in hopes of giving back to the area. “So many people want to leave their hometown when it is time to go to college, but I wanted to stay in Toledo to help it grow and develop,” he said.Francis Mok

With a résumé including organizations such as Student Government, Chinese American Student Association, Filipino American Association, and his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, it is clear that Francis has a passion for student leadership and interaction. “I would love to see different campus groups interact more,” he said. “Diversity is something that everyone should be involved in.” He has helped plan events through Student Government such as the recent Academic Gala and has been working with the Chinese American Student Association to bridge connections with other universities. “I am always asking myself: how can we further engage students with the university and community?” he added.

Within his personal and academic life, Mok says that he has already begun to appreciate and understand the Honors Experience. “Honors classes have expanded my mind and have made me want to engage more in my classes and on campus,” he said. “I see the Honors College as an important way to distinguish yourself and to hold yourself to a higher standard every day.”

 Grisoranyel Barrios

“The Honors College is that ideal family; the one that makes you feel capable of accomplishing your goals and encourages you to be the absolute best version of yourself.”

Grisoranyel Barrios, known as “Griso” to her peers and professors, has not taken any aspect of the Honors experience for granted. A senior studying Political Science and Social Work, Grisoranyel says she chose to join the Honors College because of the Grisoranyel Barriosexceptional administration and opportunities to challenge herself. “I actually was not in the Honors College my freshman year; I joined it my sophomore year,” she said. “Since I did all of my college applications on my own, I was focused on applying correctly and doing the absolute musts to attend UT. I was so determined to be in it my sophomore year, I actually emailed advisors and Success Coaches just to see what I needed to do.”

With a résumé including Blue Key membership, Vice President of the Catholic Student Association, a study abroad trip to Germany, and internships within the City of Toledo and in Washington, D.C, Grisoranyel has forged the Honors College into a tool for her success. “There are so many things I’ve done here that I thought would only happen in my wildest dreams,” she said. “With the support, encouragement, and help from the Honors College, I was able to make those dreams a reality.”

Ultimately, the family atmosphere has been one of the key factors in creating her love for Honors and her drive to succeed. “It has allowed me to be around like-minded students and staff that inspire as well as push me to reach my full potential – to become fearless and resilient when it comes to my studies. I honestly feel that all things are possible.”

 Abel Castillo

“The Honors College has already encouraged me to take a step into unknown studies and has piqued my interest in many outside organizations.”

Abel Castillo, a freshman studying Biology on the Pre-Med track, has a multitude of goals for his remaining time at UT – many that Abel Castillohe has already put into action. Drawn to UT for its location and well-developed Pre-Med program, Abel said that going Honors was an easy decision. “I want to expose myself to every opportunity available to me,” he said. “I see nothing but benefits in the Honors experience.”

Abel is a 2016 Presidential Scholar, one of UT’s chief distinctions. “It means a lot knowing that the University invested so much in me,” he said. “The Presidential Scholarship is my prime motivation to pursue excellence as I move forward in my college career.”

Looking ahead, Abel hopes to make a difference in Toledo both during his collegiate years and after graduation. He recently landed an undergraduate research position through the Honors College and said that Toledo is quickly becoming his community. “I received the Presidential Scholarship, but in turn I want to eventually pay that generosity back to the University and the community.”

 Samuel Duling

“I’m in the Honors College because I am not interested in minimum requirements. I am interested in working toward excellence and taking advantage of every opportunity. I understand that it is a privilege to have the education that I do and an honor to contribute to my field of study.”

It is safe to say that in his time at UT, senior Samuel Duling has made his voice heard. Sam, a Political Science and Economics student, has been involved in a multitude of campus organizations and events, including Mortar Board, Blue Key, and The Voice of Honors. He has even had a part in selecting new leaders on campus, such as UT Presidents, Provosts, and the Dean of the Honors Samuel DulingCollege. “I was at UT during a period of unparalleled transition and was able to be involved in every change,” Sam said. “I got to help set the tone for the future – it happened to me, so it can happen to anyone.”

Along with his involvement on campus, he has been able to make an impact around the country and the globe. Sam has taken part in study abroad and service trips to Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti, Ecuador, and China, as well as internships with the Toledo Mayor’s office and a Congressional Office in Washington, D.C. The biggest highlight of his college career, however, has been his involvement in UT traditions. “I made it my mission to represent minority students both of the LGBT and non-Greek communities,” he said. “I have had an opportunity to show everyone that they have a voice and that they matter.”

After graduation, Sam will be attending the University of Minnesota to attain a doctoral degree in Political Science – something that would not have been possible without the Honors College, he said. “It is difficult to express what the Honors College means to me. It has been the defining feature of my undergraduate experience; it has pushed me to delve deeper, aim higher, and attempt more in my education.”

 Danielle Saevig

“I enjoy the critical thinking process, the discussion of philosophies, and being challenged in my studies. I genuinely like to learn, and that’s why I’m in the Honors College.”

With a spirit for giving back and a love for learning, senior Danielle Saevig has seized every opportunity during her Honors College experience at UT. In these four years, Saevig has been an active participant in The Voice of Honors, the Reynolds Elementary tutoring program, and was the head tutor for the International Boxing Club. Saevig has been equally involved in academics, working closely with Dr. Heather Conti of the Biology Department on her Honors thesis and research as a Pre-Med student in the Baccalaureate/MD Program.Danielle Saevig

An integral part of her college experience, Saevig said, has been her opportunities to study abroad. She participated in the Salford Exchange program, where she spent a year in England working on her degree, and in a Medical Missions Trip to Guatemala. “My trip to Guatemala gave me applicable experience for what I want to do in life,” Saevig said. “It was an extremely different cultural experience and I learned so much.”

Drawn to UT for its Baccalaureate/MD Program, Saevig has found a close-knit community within the Honors College during her college years. “In the Honors College, you have smaller classes which allows you to get to know the professors,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed our discussions and the ideas they spark; they truly give you a better education.”

 Batool Mehdi

“The Honors faculty members are truly amazing and have provided me with a positive and supportive learning environment during my four years at UT. I highly encourage other students to get to know these awesome people!”

Batool Mehdi, a Biology student in the Honors College, has used her four years at UT to excel in research and academics. The Jesup Scott Honors College appealed to Batool because of its academically challenging classes and supportive faculty. She has also been able to shine in academic leadership, as president of Alpha Chi Sigma – a national chemistry fraternity, and as a Biology Lab Teaching Assistant.Batool Mehdi

A three-year participant in cancer cell research, Batool has used the resources of the Honors College to her advantage in conducting and funding her studies. “During my freshman year, I met with Dr. Connin of the Honors College, who told me about the First Year Summer Research Experience grant that I applied for to help fund my research,” she said. Batool was also able to attend the National Conferences of Undergraduate Research and showcase her findings to people across the nation.

“By joining the JSHC, I have had the opportunity to do research under a couple of grants which was such an amazing experience,” she explained. “In my four years, I have been able to connect with people who had similar interests and goals to mine, and have been able to excel academically.”


“The Honors College creates more than students; the Honors College creates well-rounded individuals who will be ready to take on the world once they graduate.”

Abby Turnwald, a sophomore studying Biology, has shown a passion for and a dedication to the Jesup Scott Honors College in her two years at UT. Attracted to UT’s strengths in STEMM and opportunities for undergraduate research, Abby wasted no time getting Abby Turnwaldinvolved in the Honors College. As President of The Voice of Honors, she has been able to connect and work with Honors students and faculty of all kinds. “I work hard to create interesting meetings that attract students from all majors,” Abby explained. “It’s fun to meet people who you may not have classes with, but you may share other interests with them.”

Along with her role in The Voice, Turnwald has been able to take numerous Honors classes outside of her major and explore other topics, including a passion for working with children with disabilities. Through the Honors College, she has been able to attend an Honors seminar on autism. “Whether it is taking an Honors course, having dinner with a well-known author, or attending the Mud Hens game with the Honors Learning Community, the Honors College is always helping me flourish,” she said. “The opportunities here are endless.”

 Lucy Frank

“I think that no matter what school you go to, you can always find something to make your college experience special. The things that made my four years special wouldn’t have been possible without hard work and the Honors College.”

Lucy Frank, a senior in Political Science and an Honors student, has been involved on a local, state, and international scale in her four years at UT. Between working for the Ohio Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s Ohio campaign during the 2016 election, completing undergraduate research, and studying abroad twice, Lucy has taken advantage of every opportunity presented to her. Lucy Frank“The Honors service trip to Guatemala with Dr. Page Armstrong was my first plane ride and my first time out of the country,” she said. “That trip changed my perception of UT and the world – it inspired me to study abroad in France the next year.”

Lucy also served as a summer intern for the city of Toledo, which she described as her signature accomplishment. “Interning for Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins solidified for me my desire to work in politics and be a public servant,” she explained. Lucy worked closely with the late Mayor Collins doing research, writing proposals, and specifically working on local food truck legislation.

After graduating, she hopes the next steps of her life will be as impactful and exciting as her time at Toledo. “The Honors College has helped me do so many things here. Looking back on my four years, this is where I needed to be.”

 Corey Fink

“As a future teacher, I place a high value on education. The Honors College sets out to make education into a true experience, not just something to ‘get through’ to earn a degree. When I am teaching, that is precisely what I want to do as well.”

A senior in the Adolescent and Young Adult Education program, a two-time summer intern at Reynolds Elementary School, and a current student teacher at Bowsher High School, Honors student Corey Fink has seen both sides of the learning process during hisCorey Fink four years at UT. As a life-long resident and lover of Toledo, choosing to attend UT was easy, Corey said. “Too, there are a number of reasons why I joined the Jesup Scott Honors College,” he explained, “I had a very full, successful high school career and I wanted to uphold that standard in college.”

Corey was awarded the prestigious Presidential Scholarship during his freshman year, which he describes as his crowning accomplishment at UT. “To get a distinction like that at a university that I love so much is the biggest honor that I could have received,” he said. “Not only that, it has given me the resources and the motivation to excel in my college career.” One of those resources has been the ability to live on campus for four years. Living in MacKinnon Hall has been one of his favorite collegiate experiences. “Being a part of the Honors College and living in MacKinnon has allowed me to interact with dozens upon dozens of Honors students,” he said. “I am inspired by the great things my peers in Honors do!”

 Christina Pinciotti

“I’ve truly had a wonderful time working alongside the Honors professors and being enrolled in their classes. They have taught me so much and have given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else.”

Christina Pinciotti, a senior in the Honors Theatre program, has been the face of major roles in UT Theatre productions since her freshman year.  A member of Alpha Psi Omega, Phi Kappa Phi, and a performer in a show every semester, Pinciotti has been able to Christina Pinciottiexcel in many areas around UT. In the summer of 2014, Christina participated in a TolInterns Program where she worked closely with Dr. Larry Connin of the Honors College and was able to present at the Summer Research Symposium. “It was a great experience and, without Dr. Connin, I would have never known about it,” Pinciotti said.

Pinciotti said that in choosing her collegiate path, she was looking for a place to be challenged academically and to further the advanced work she had done in high school. “Being an Honors student majoring in Theatre is a somewhat unique case, but no matter what your major is, you can always make it work with Honors,” Pinciotti explained. “The Honors College has allowed me to expand my educational horizons.”

 Quinton Babcock

“The Honors College has given me a liberal arts education within all of the opportunities of our large university.”

Quinton Babcock, a junior studying Economics and Disability Studies in the Honors College, has made quite the impact on all that he has touched in his time at UT. In choosing a school, UT stuck out because of its opportunities for undergraduate research and individual attention offered by his department, Babcock said.Quinton Babcock

Beginning the summer after his freshman year, he took advantage of those opportunities and has been involved with various research initiatives. He described his first grant research project, an economic feasibility study where he worked closely with Dr. Barbara Mann of the Honors College, as his greatest accomplishment thus far. “We got to jump start a process that is continually benefiting other students,” Babcock explained.

Currently, Babcock has been researching economic preferences regarding the Lake Erie Algal Blooms and was recently elected to his hometown of Oak Harbor’s city council as Council President pro tempore.

 Taylor Burchfield

“I knew that at UT, I had the chance to make a difference and stand out in my field of study. I chose Toledo because I knew that I would be more than just a number.”

Taylor BurchfieldTaylor Burchfield, a freshman studying Communications and an Honors student, has used her short time here at UT to get involved on campus. Coming to Toledo from Waynesville, Ohio, Taylor is a lover of photography and a frequent traveler. After graduating from Toledo, she hopes to work in the publishing field. Between becoming a member of Chi Omega and tutoring children from Reynolds Elementary School, Taylor started working with the Honors College Communication Team during the Fall semester to develop social media impact and content for the JSHC.

“I have already grown so much within the Honors College and I cannot wait to see all that awaits me with this new opportunity,” said Taylor.

Last Updated: 12/15/17