Postcard from Cape Town: Identifying the Education Gap

Young woman passes out candy to students who have completed a survey.

Chelsea Hodge rewards students at Intsebenziswano Senior Secondary School who have completed a survey. The goal? Determine why only 18% of students in Philippi Township go on to university or technical school – and ultimately, help to remove barriers to higher education.

Honors College staffer (and alumna fellow) Chelsea Hodge is wrapping up two months in Cape Town, S. Africa, where she has been working with high school students in Philippi township. Only 18% of students in this impoverished area go on to study at a university or technical school. Chelsea and honors accounting major Rebecca Francis have been working with the South African Education and Environment Project to design and administer a survey that will identify the gaps that block the path to higher education, and how the SAEP can help fill those gaps. 

In many respects, Cape Town feels very comfortable/western/European – whatever adjective you want to use. The city is beautiful, cosmopolitan, and vibrant. No matter where you are, your view is dominated by Table Mountain. The ocean runs along the eastern side of the city. There are beautiful gardens, giant shopping malls, and world-class restaurants. We’ve already been to the ballet, to the theater, and to the symphony! Yet this is the side of Cape Town that is seen by the casual observer, the tourist who drops in for a hike up the mountain and a jaunt over to Kruger for a safari. Cape Town, like much of South Africa, is riddled with poverty, racial strife, and an abundance of problems leftover from the apartheid regime. You can see poverty and rampant drug use even in the “nice” parts of the city; once you venture into the Cape Flats and townships, the problems hit you in the face.

A young man walks in a shantytown.

In Philippi Township, most people live in metal shacks without running water. Multiple families share access to portable toilets provided by the government.

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Posted in Alumni Updates, History, Honors College Study Abroad Grant, Service Learning | Leave a comment

Snapshots from Belize


Last summer biochemistry major Roshni Patel (right) helped to launch an important new public health initiative in the U of A’s Faculty-Led Community Development program based in Dangriga, Belize. Roshni and other members of the health team partnered with the local Red Cross to take public health screenings on the road.

This opened the door to reach families in rural villages like Maya Mopan, who have very limited access to healthcare.

In her free time, Roshni explored the country with friends on excursions that ranged from hiking in the rainforest to cooling off underneath a waterfall to snorkeling with sharks, stingrays and manatees. Continue reading

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Fellowship Weekend: 6 Tips to Help You Nail the Writing Test, Ace the Interview and (Yes, It Is Possible) Actually Enjoy Yourself

Ok, so you just got invited to Fellowship Weekend at the University of Arkansas Honors College. Pretty exciting, right? Believe me, just getting invited is quite an honor, especially since we had close to 700 applicants this year. I know most of you have a million questions going through your mind. What will the interview be like? What can I do to prepare for the weekend? Should I be prepared to discuss the philosophical underpinnings of the most recent installment of The Hunger Games? Knowing that this can be an anxious time, I wanted to provide a few tips to our finalists:

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Before you come to Fellowship Weekend, take time to review your application to make sure you’re comfortable discussing all of its components. From my experience, the easiest place for students to trip up is when they are asked about their list of five works. Believe me, if you wrote about The Great Gatsby and you don’t have a clue about who shot Gatsby and how Fitzgerald described Gatsby’s funeral, it can make for an uncomfortable conversation with your interviewers.

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Polishing up your interview skills is a great way to prepare for the fellowship interview. To do this, ask you school’s counselor if it would be possible to set up a mock interview for you. Request a similar format to what you’ll see at Fellowship Weekend: a 15-minute interview with three to four individuals conducting the interview. A few days before, you should share your fellowship application with the practice interviewers so they can formulate some questions.

On the day of the practice interview, dress like you would for the interview. Once it’s completed, ask your interviewers to provide some constructive criticism on everything from your responses to your posture to your handshake. It may sound silly, but every little thing counts when you’re trying to make a first impression, especially in an interview setting. You can also practice with family members at home, especially on the “Tell us about yourself” question that launches many an interview.

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The dress code for Sunday is comfortable and casual; jeans are fine. On Monday, though, we strongly recommend professional attire for your interview. Dress in a manner that makes you feel confident, but won’t distract your interviewers.

For men, that means a conservative suit jacket or sport coat with a tie. For women, “professional dress” offers more options. Most of our female finalists wear a pantsuit, jacket and skirt or maybe a simple dress in conservative colors. I would also be careful with the type of shoes you wear –– you will be walking a good amount that day. I have witnessed a few finalists limping after breaking in brand new shoes on the big day, or taking a nasty fall due to the larger-than-life high heels they were wearing at the time.

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The writing exercise is not designed to cause an anxiety attack.
Here’s how it works: on Sunday afternoon, you will be presented with 7-9 prompts and will be asked to write a response to one of them in 30 minutes. The essay prompts will primarily come from “big picture” current event stories.

When I say “big picture,” this can include areas like the ramifications of a divided U.S. government or the best ways to combat childhood obesity. You won’t, however, be expected to explain the rationale behind Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s recent decision to reach a budget deal with the opposition party (although kudos if you can!).

Basically, if you are staying up to date on current events and large-scale cultural news, you should be able to write a thoughtful, coherent response to at least one of our prompts.

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Fellowship weekend mentors are current fellows who have volunteered to be a resource –– use them. Your mentor will be contacting you prior to the event, and you’ll get to meet him/her at the Ozark Open House on Sunday evening. Your mentor will let you know what it’s like to be a fellow in the University of Arkansas Honors College, and what to expect throughout the rest of your weekend.

Remember, your mentor was in your shoes only a few years before and obviously had a successful Fellowship Weekend. Our recruitment staff is always happy to answer your questions, but do be sure to get the inside perspective from your mentor.

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You’ll notice on the schedule that although most of the events are mandatory, there is some flexible time available, especially on Monday morning. During that time, you will have the option to do a number of different things, such as touring Hotz Honors Hall and attending a class. Take advantage of these opportunities, especially if this is your only chance to visit the University of Arkansas. We want you to be as informed as possible about the opportunities available to you in the Honors College, so that you can pick the school that will be the best fit for you.

I hope these tips a) help you prepare for Fellowship Weekend and b) feel a little less stressed about the event. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

P.S. Want the inside scoop on Fellowship Weekend from one of our fellows? Read Hannah Breshears’ “Fellowship Weekend: Revealed.”

P.P.S. —

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Posted in Advice/Tips, Fellowships & Scholarships | Leave a comment

Welcome to the Honours College School of Witchcraft & Wizardry


Honours College School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Tournament
Sunday, Feb. 15, 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Ozark Hall 026: Auditorium below Honors Wing

Dear Honours College Students,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been invited to the Honours College School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Tournament. In teams of up to four people, you will compete against other honours students to claim the title Tournament Champions. The teams that acquire the most points will win magical prizes. Your team will also compete for your house; the house with the most accumulated points will win the House Cup! Please find enclosed a list of all necessary information.

The tournament shall be held February 15. We await your owl and RSVP by no later than February 12.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress Continue reading

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5 Minute Film Fest!


Pull out your cameras and get creative! Then join in and watch films with your friends at the first ever Honors College 5 Minute Film Fest!

The festival will celebrate the best, the worst – truly all of the films made by UA Honors College students.  We welcome videos of any kind, including commercials, romances, action plots, parodies, music videos, claymation, infomercials, scary films. If you and your friends are willing to put on a show and film it, we’ll take it!*  You can submit as many films as you want.  Winners will receive awards and all judging will be based on audience votes.

The festival will be held in the auditorium in the honors wing of Ozark Hall on Wednesday, April 29, at 6:05pm.  Even if you don’t submit, come watch your friends’ films and cheer them on!  We’ll see you there! (And if any time along the way you wan to know more about the rules, check out, or use this link to see our post!)

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Still Image from John Irwin’s film “Children of the Mother Beaver,” which he filmed while in the Honors College!

Here are the guidelines for submissions:

  • The film can be no longer than five minutes including the title and end credits.
  • The film cannot contain obscene or inappropriate pictures, gestures, statements, or language.
  • A form must be completed for each entry and each film must be submitted to dropbox using the instructions below.
  • The film and form must be submitted by Monday, April 27.

To submit your video:

  1. Once the film is completed, fill out the submission form here.
  2. Once the form is completed, go to
  3. Log in using your UARK username and password.
  4. Click Transfer files.
  5. In the Subject box, type 5 Minute Film Festival Film Submission
  6. In the Recipients box, type
  7. Click upload files.
  8. Upload your video (Make sure your video is titled with the title you use in this form.)
  9. Click Review and send.
  10. Send your video.
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Still Image from John Irwin’s film “Children of the Mother Beaver,” which he filmed while in the Honors College!

If you have any questions, contact

*Content should not break any of the codes of conduct in the University of Arkansas student handbook. Read more here.

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Confronting Stereotypes in Dubai

My classmates and I with our hosts in Oman - web

My classmates and I with our hosts in Oman

Junior Zach Schwermann has majors in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies and has tacked on two minors as well – Arabic and International Business. So it makes sense that he would be drawn to the Intensive Arabic Language Seminar in the United Arab Emirates. Along with a better knowledge of speaking Arabic, Zach learned a lot about the culture of the Middle East, including how U.S. food chains adapt to meet Islamic dietary restrictions and how Muslims celebrate their holy days. 

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Posted in International Business/Marketing, International Relations, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Sam M. Walton College of Business, Study Abroad, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

Postcard from England: Zoe Rom

High Tea at Kensington Palace-web

High Tea at Kensington Palace


Junior English major and French minor Zoe Rom traveled to England last summer to study with the Medieval England faculty-led program with Dr. William Quinn. In addition to visiting England’s storied Gothic cathedrals and world class museums, Zoe also experienced the centuries-old mystery plays enacted on the streets of York, paid her respects at Jane Austen’s grave, and ate a lot of Nutella sandwiches to save up for a splurge: high tea at Kensington Palace.

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Posted in England, English, Honors College Study Abroad Grant, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Study Abroad, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PATHways: Meet Adia Threatt

A young woman is standing by the door to the Honors College home in Ozark Hall.

Adia Threatt, a freshman accounting major and supply chain management minor born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, graduated from Kadena High School on the Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. Growing up in a military family has exposed her to new cultures and new experiences. Her empathetic nature inspired her to work with other young daughters of military families, addressing both the victories and hardships that they may face. Adia has a strong passion for serving others and aims to have a positive impact on their lives through mentoring and friendship. Continue reading

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Building Hope in Uganda: 5 Questions for Mary Nell Patterson


Mary Nell Patterson is a fourth-year landscape architecture student. Initially, she was a pre-nursing major, but after realizing that her fear of needles wasn’t going away anytime soon, she started to take notice of what she did love: art and the outdoors. Through her studies in the Fay Jones School of Architecture, she realized that she’s been drawing landscapes her entire life.

Last summer, in the first partnership between the Honors College and the Clinton School of Public Service, Mary Nell traveled to Uganda to work at a school called Hope North. There, she and graduate students from the Clinton School worked with the students on beautification efforts and – most importantly – a hand washing station model. Mary Nell’s experience hasn’t left her. Instead she thinks about the people of Uganda and her travel companions often as she works on her thesis, which explores what landscape architecture could bring to the infrastructure of Africa.

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Field Notes: A Fish Story


Honors student: Justin Reed, senior biochemistry and biology major
Faculty mentor: Christian Tipsmark, assistant professor of biological sciences


Schools of tiny fish originally from the coastal rice paddies of Southeast Asia may seem a little out of place in Arkansas, but in Christian Tipsmark’s lab they are prized for a rare trait. Honors College student Justin Reed has joined Dr. Tipsmark’s research on the Japanese medaka, which are classified as euryhaline because of their ability to adapt to both salt water and fresh water. In the lab, they investigate the relationship between the endocrine system and salt transport in the gill, which allows the fish to maintain water and salt balance in their bodies. Continue reading

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