National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 2022, 23(1): 77–79


Copyright © 2022 Mark Donovan


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 checked the spreadsheet in front of me again, frantically hoping by some grace or magic that the fifth entry I reviewed would somehow erase my mistake. I couldn’t have possibly scrambled more than 1,000 application records, could I have? I poured through the files I had meticulously, even reverently saved over the last weeks. I searched, each click more desperate than its sister before it. Surely, one of these manilla-colored folders held redemption in its electronic depths. Lined up like soldiers at parade, each offered hope, anticipation, sharp anguish as its contents failed to yield the file that would allow me to unmake my terrible transgression.

At long last, the inexpungible fact of my blunder had to be faced. I steeled myself, gathering what courage I could muster, and knocked on our director’s door. My eyes traced an agonied, defeated course along the floor before I wrestled my gaze to his face. Still, it took a moment before my mouth decided to speak. “Sir, I may have accidentally messed up the database.”

The kindly mouth smiled. Eyes twinkled and the beginnings of crow’s feet at their corners deepened ever so slightly