National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 2022, 23(1): 9–11


Copyright © 2022 Laura Barrett


As part of the National Collegiate Honors Council’s (2022) collection of essays about the value of honors to its graduates (1967–2019), the author reflects on the personal and professional impacts of the honors experience.

The word of the year, as my LIU Brooklyn Honors Program peers and I would identify it in 1979, was “juxtaposition,” not a word I was very familiar with before entering college but one that was tossed about with abandon by professors in my first-year seminars (including Bernice Braid, director and co-founder of the LIU Brooklyn Honors Program) and that would become a close friend by my spring essay on Madame Bovary. Seeing things in relation to each other would prove to be an important feature in my education. As a first-generation college student, I had little forewarning about what college would hold in store. My selection of an undergraduate institution was pragmatic, chosen primarily because of a generous scholarship and proximity to home, where I continued to live during my undergraduate years. Uninspired reasons perhaps, but the outcome proved fortuitous. Those team-taught seminars in literature, history, and philosophy, capped at 16 to encourage robust participation, were the single most important part of my undergraduate education. The courses, which met consecutively thrice weekly, shared a theme and kept pace with each other, marching through historical periods, allowing us to see the connections among the disciplines and demonstrating how ideas manifested in events and artistic creation. Once a month or so, three cohorts of students met together along with six professors to discuss the places where these disciplines overlapped, but to be honest the imbrications were everpresent, encouraging the students to see how ideology erupts in art and vice versa.