“When we restructured the Honors Program, we wanted to build a community,” said T.J. McLemore, a professor of English and director of the program. “And having students remain on campus and really partake in the campus life is a big part of that. And we want our honors students to be sort of front and center when it comes to TJC student life.”
According to the TJC website, students who are eligible for the Honors Program must have at least a GPA of 3.3, take 15 hours of honor-level courses and perform 48 hours community service.
Housing more than 50 students and located on the third floor of Orneleas B, the co-ed Honors Living & Learning Center opened on Aug. 23.
Living on campus has advantages of allowing students to be more involved not only with the community but the school.
“Living off campus was fun, but I felt disconnected from campus activities,” said Joshua Phillips, English/Sociology major and resident assistant of the Living & Learning Center. “I thought this was a great way to give students the full circle of learning. They are helping to provide an environment that not only is conducive to learning, but that encourages social interaction with like- minded individuals.”
Campus housing also allows students the access to speak with professors and resources not normally accessible due to distance restraints.
“This provides a really amazing opportunity for our Honors Program students to blur the line of distinction between faculty and students. Between mentor and mentee,” said McLemore.
Students graduating top 10 percent of their class can receive the Presidential Honors Scholarship along with their financial aid to help pay for housing.
Phillips, who is from Odessa, understands the hassle of moving and paying rent. He decided to become the RA to help students with the transition from a high school honors program into a collegiate level.
“I learned the hard way. I wanted to help students ease into this new chapter of life, rather than be thrown into the water and told to figure it out,” Phillips said.
Participants in the Honors Program also receive perks aside from an exclusive resident hall. Students also have access to a computer-equipped study lounge with free printing, small classes of no more than 15 students, and help transferring to a four year university.
There are no official plans to expand or build a new hall yet. As the program grows, the administrators do expect that there will be a need for additional housing in the future.