National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 2022, 23(1): 115–16


Copyright © 2022 Sean Collier


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.

I am a Southern Appalachian, first-generation college student from a small town—a place where folks are sometimes considered backwards, ignorant, and or even a bit “simple minded.” Coming to Emory & Henry College, I was certainly among the lesserprepared students in my honors cohort. I did not attend a Governor’s School, I did not have lessons with local college professors, and I did not meet the test-score requirements for the program. And while I was “in,” there was an unspoken doubt. Immediately, my education was questioned in its rigor and breadth. I know this doubt reflected the high academic standards of the program, but it also carried unspoken assumptions about the place I came from. I would spend the next four years working to dismantle this doubt, proving myself capable and succeeding where I felt I was expected to fail. Ultimately, the Honors Program facilitated this success.