National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 2022, 23(1): 55–57


Copyright © 2022 Merry Benner Chiu


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 Dean of my undergraduate Honors College disguised a very clever secret right in plain sight of his students. What we thought to be a well-rounded, four-year education was, in reality, so much more: a carefully cultivated undergraduate program that propelled us into an engaged adulthood driven by meaningful discourse, appreciation for a breadth and depth of disciplines, and an unyielding dedication to diversity. My honors educational setting was marked by seminar-style classrooms that were notably divergent in aesthetics and engagement from other classes on campus. The energy upon entering an Honors class session was palpable– whether you wanted it to be or not. There was no lying low in a back row. Each student was a valuable voice contributing to conversation that simultaneously amplified each other’s learning and required us to get uncomfortable. Our education taught us to see beyond a traditional didactic dynamic and become learners whose intellectual curiosities were driven by discourse.