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HCC Honors Programs Deliver Extraordinary Learning Experiences

Classroom court at HCC.

Stacy Korbelak, professor of English and director of the Schoenbrodt Scholars program, liked the idea of her honors English composition students study recent court cases, but wondered what would happen if she required her students to adopt and practice the roles of attorneys? What could they gain if they needed to conduct research, investigate the laws, write a brief for a specific side of a case, and present their findings and an argument in a court-style setting?

The idea blossomed further when Korbelak ran it by Judge Douglas Nazarian from the Maryland State Court of Special Appeals, who thought the concept was brilliant and wanted to support it. With that, “Classroom Court” was born.

Korbelak’s honors students are organized into small groups and assigned a case to explore, write about, and debate. The issues are diverse, but always center around a real-life debate or problem.

“The students quickly realize that cases that seem interesting are not simple, and sometimes they have to defend an argument that they personally don’t agree with,” said Korbelak. “It’s an eye-opening experience for them.”

Adrian Kuhlman, assistant professor of mathematics and assistant director of the STEM Scholars program, challenges his students to come up with the correct answer to a complex math problem, and then to explain how the solution was determined in simple, easy-to-understand terms.

“I always say the greatest test is to present the process in a way that a 10-year-old will understand,” said Kuhlman. “As we dive into these complex math problems and start to understand how they relate to the world around us, there is always a story that can be told. One of my favorite assignments involves students creating children’s books. As the story unfolds, the math problem and solution are presented in a fun and creative way. It broadens their view and shows students how mathematics is part of everything we do.”

Nick DiStefano came into HCC intending to major in mathematics, but quickly found himself heading down a connected, but different path – to become a pharmacist. DiStefano applied and was accepted to the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, and intends to be part of the graduating class of 2022.

“The honors program advisors at HCC truly want to see each student succeed; I don’t think I would have gotten to this point without their help,” explained DiStefano. “I am very fortunate to have been part of such a close-knit cohort, where someone was always available to help as I was determining my career path and then eventually transferring to a four-year school. I am so grateful for the support I received.”

HCC’s honors programs offer extraordinary, out-of-the-box learning experiences that are preparing students to venture off campus with meaningful insight, perspective, and skills. Collectively, the programs deliver a diverse set of experiences that connect education to the real world. Individually, the three honors programs offered at HCC – Rouse Scholars, Schoenbrodt Scholars, and STEM Scholars – along with honors courses in a broad range of disciplines, make it possible for students to build their academic experiences around their personal interests and passions, as well as their professional vision and goals.

Read more about Howard Community College’s honor programs in the Fall 2018 issue of Pathways Magazine.

Topics: Campus Life
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