National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Spring 2007


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 8:1, Spring/Summer 2007. Copyright © 2007 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Afemale student rushed into my office with a backpack swinging from her shoulder as I was enjoying freshly brewed coffee and a brownie from the batch I had made for my class. No introductions, but an abrupt “Dr. Khé, you don’t know me, but I heard that you have applied for the Director position, and I totally support your application.”
This was how my interaction with honors students started a couple of years ago after I had barely submitted my application for the Director position. I had no idea what to say other than “thanks, but who are you?” She sat down and introduced herself—Tatiyana was her name (no real names used in this essay). I offered her brownies, Tatiyana took one, and we started chatting. She was a senior majoring in history and planned to go to law school.
The “law school” got my attention because for a couple of weeks I had been closely following the Michael Newdow case: Newdow, an atheist and father of a third-grade student, sued the government, claiming that it was unconstitutional to force his daughter to listen to “under God” in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. So, naturally, I asked Tatiyana what she thought about the case that had made its way to the Supreme Court. Her quick-fire responses clearly showed her familiarity with the details of the case. Tatiyana was confident that the court would toss the case out on the grounds that Newdow had no standing, which was exactly what the court did months later. And, by the way, Tatiyana did go on to a prestigious law school on the east coast.