Honors Program graduate Tiffany Venmahavong '17 of Woonsocket, RI, is a Fulbright Teaching Scholarship recipient and Masters of International Affairs candidate at Columbia University.
Advancing excellence through the Bryant Honors Program
Oct 07, 2019

The Bryant Honors Program fosters a community of exceptional students and mentors who inspire one another to excel. A complement to their studies in their major and minor, the program encourages members to step out of their comfort zones and extend their education far beyond textbooks by taking part in a wide variety of experiences designed to explore subjects in greater detail.

Committed to scholarship, service, success, and self-awareness, the program creates an environment that sparks students’ curiosity and enhances their personal lives and professional futures.

“The Bryant Honors Program is at the core of the University’s drive for academic excellence,” notes the program’s new Director Edinaldo Tebaldi, Ph.D., Professor of Economics. The program is also supported by Associate Director Susan Baran, MA, a senior lecturer in the department of Communication, and Marcia Beaulieu, the program’s Coordinator. “Through the Honors program, students become better scholars, better leaders, better professionals, and better citizens,” says Tebaldi.

“We’re redefining what it means to be excellent. All of our Honors students have a need to know, to evolve, and to affect change.”

“Our Honors Program prepares our students to rise to the top of their professions and make a difference in their chosen fields, by exploring the curiosity that inspires them to achieve great things,” notes Bryant University Provost and Chief Academic Officer Glenn M. Sulmasy, J.D., LL.M.

To be the very best

“Being in the Honors Program is about taking your work to another level,” says Kaitlyn Fales ’21, a member of the student-run Honors Council that helps guide the program. “It’s not enough to learn the concepts, you have to be able to understand the underlying theories and ideas behind them. That’s what will set you apart in your job, or in graduate school.” 

“To work alongside students who are just as motivated as you, and are just as curious as you, means a lot,”

In addition to specially-designed courses that encourage in-depth discussion and study, the program also offers a range of co-curricular opportunities. An Honors Speaker Series featuring experts from a wide range of fields and study abroad opportunities, exposes students to new ideas and perspectives.  Trips to innovation hubs like San Francisco enable them to learn from game-changing companies and network with industry, government, and nonprofit leaders. 

“The Honors Program is doing more than it’s ever done before,” says Kai-Lou Yue ’20, who points to a recent Speaker Series lecture on climate change as an “amazing” experience. “And through things like the Honors Council, we have a voice in the programming and in providing opportunities that students want and need.”

Evolving and affecting change

“We’re redefining what it means to be excellent,” explains Baran. “All of our Honors students have a need to know, to evolve, and to affect change.”

“To work alongside students who are just as motivated as you, and are just as curious as you, means a lot,” says Yue, when asked about what makes the program so valuable for Honors students. “It’s the small, focused classes and being able to take them with the rest of the Honors community.”

“Don’t be afraid to challenge the conventional. You can go outside your comfort zone at Bryant, and in the Honors Program. There are very few other places in the world that are inherently designed for you to explore and be curious."

The four-year program also cultivates a sense of civic responsibility and hones key leadership skills. A community service initiative where members of the first-year class work together to plan and execute service initiatives has been added to this year’s curriculum. An Honors Living-Learning community, where students can gather as dedicated high achievers, will open in the 2020-2021 academic year.

Pure curiosity

The close-knit program allows Honors students to build relationships with one another and find mentors among older students and faculty members who can help them find their path and discover answers to big questions. 

“The thesis is a great way to take everything you’ve learned, put it into one project and say 'this is what I’ve done.' It’s something you can really be proud of and something that you can use to show employers or graduate schools what you’re capable of."

Honors Program alumnus William Brian Gowen '13, now a Financial Analyst and Bank Examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, recently returned to campus to talk with the incoming Honors program members about making the most of their Bryant education. “Don’t be afraid to challenge the conventional. You can go outside your comfort zone at Bryant, and in the Honors Program,” Gowen advised. “There are very few other places in the world that are inherently designed for you to explore and be curious.”

Exploring new ideas

Nowhere is that curiosity more evident than in the program’s Honors thesis, a comprehensive research project each student, guided by a faculty mentor, undertakes on a subject of their choosing. Previous thesis projects have ranged from examining cryptocurrencies to studying the DotCom bubble to writing a novel.

“The thesis project is something you can make entirely your own,” notes Gowen, who explored the changing dynamics of the employment gap and its macroeconomic implications through his thesis. 

“The thesis is a great way to take everything you’ve learned, put it into one project and say this is what I’ve done,” says Fales, who is working with Associate Professor of Political Science Richard Holtzman, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Alicia Lamere, Ph.D., on a project that combines her studies in politics and analytics. “It’s something you can really be proud of and something that you can use to show employers or graduate schools what you’re capable of.”

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