Village Profiles: Honors and Scholars Villages

Honors and Scholars Villages

Living and Learning Villages help students get the most out of their NC State experience. While many campus partners have probably heard of the Village concept, some may be unfamiliar with the specific Villages and their purposes. Stay tuned as we spend some time profiling our Villages to help you get a better understanding of the many offerings University Housing and its partners provide through Village living.

Honors and Scholars Villages

The University Honors Village builds a community of mentors, peer resources, and excitement for academic research and intellectual growth. “We want to continually focus on infusing research and scholarship into the community,” said Aaron Stoller, Assistant Director University Honors Program. “We try to find ways to cultivate the life of the mind of students. Research is not just a study activity. Research generates knowledge and thinking deeply to solve the grand challenges of society.”

Established fall 2003 as a partnership between the University Honors Program and University Housing, the village originally only occupied 1.5 floors in Becton Hall. However, the living and learning village became so popular it grew to include floors in all three residence halls making up the Quad: Berry, Becton and Bagwell Halls. The Honors Village Commons rounds out the Quad on East Campus and provides Honors Village residents with a convenience store, study space, seminar or workshop space, wifi and comfortable balcony seating to watch a volleyball game.

“I like the breadth of diversity of people living in the Honors Village,” said Ravi Chittilla, freshman Bio-Chemistry major. “It’s really a community. Everyone cares about learning and not just schooling. I really think the Quad transcends the quote, ‘I never let my schooling get in the way of my education,’ by Mark Twain.”

The Honors Village employs a full-time office staff member, Community Director Brian Peters. The village also supports a Scholar in Residence program, where a faculty member at NC State agrees to live in the village and fosters an environment for meaningful, cross-disciplinary dialogue with students. Bill Bauer, Teaching Assistant Professor of Philosophy has been the Scholar in Residence since 2011.

“The Honors Village allows us to add administration to the student experience,” Stoller said. “The level of commitment through time spent together with the village is both beneficial and successful and the Scholar in Residence program is an important part of our commitment to selling more faculty member involvement in the life of the Honors Village community. Bill adds a great contribution. ”

In addition to faculty mentors, first-year Honors Village residents are assigned mentors called Honors Village Fellows (HVF). HVFs are upper-class students who co-chair Village Committees designed to guide village life. Village Committees include Cultural Exploration, Scholarship & Research, Extension & Engagement, and Sustainability. HVFs, Quad Resident Advisors and Village Committees join together to organize many activities throughout the year to encourage discussion, research and community building, including programs with faculty, discussion based programs, social events through QAC, volunteer services, and scholarship.

“Ten percent of students in the Honors Village live here all 4 years,” Stoller said. “We want to retain more students by thinking more about what is really important to the community. Older students serve as role models and mentors and provide leadership. We also try to offer more amenities and stay engaged in leadership activities.”

Students living in the Honors Village are part of the University Honors Program. Residents must first be accepted into University Honors Program and then are invited to apply for the Honors Village. To be a part of the University Honors Program, students must maintain a 3.25 GPA and show an aptitude for creativity initiative and aspirations for excellence.

“The academic culture, creativity and open mindedness of students are great,” Stoller said. “One of the best moments is when I am able to make a connection between the larger group of faculty members and the students. For example, all freshmen are required to take the Honors Freshman Seminar. The classes became the mentoring groups and Honors Village Fellows served as discussion leaders. Faculty members allow student leadership to happen in the classroom and care about students outside of the classroom. Ideally what we are working toward is learning in the classroom integrating with real life. It’s the most fulfilling connection made by understanding something bigger than what’s happening in class.”

To learn more about the University Honors Program, visit their website at www.ncsu.edu/honors/ or their blog at www.ncsuhonors.com.

Scholars Village Profile

Life in the University Scholars Village is about intellectual engagement. Encouraging students to build community through enriched experiences, including social, cultural and educational activities is important for residents of the village to grow and develop leadership skills. To help build those skills, the Scholars Village offers a variety of opportunities for residents to participate in their village community.

“There’s a lot of opportunities that I’ve gotten to be a part of that I wouldn’t have had the chance to do if I wasn’t a part of the Scholars Village” said Kayleigh Jernigan, a sophomore Polymer and Color Chemistry major. “I have met so many great people that share the same ideas about school. It’s a very active program with events almost every day. You can be as involved as you want to be.”

Now a Scholars Village Assistant (SVA), Jernigan helps lead the Village in Action (VIA) group events she enjoyed attending as a freshman.  “People really get to know each other and make friends through VIA activities,” she said. “We share common things. I liked that everyone is here to go to school and get good grades.”

All Scholars Village residents must participate in a series of Scholars Forum events throughout the semester. Residents are first assigned to a VIA group consisting of 20 students, an SVA and a professional Scholars Village staff member. The VIA group also becomes classmates for the required Scholars Forum course, which features lectures, performances, and presentations by accomplished speakers and performers, group discussions and events.

“I have been with the Scholars Village for nine years,” said Allison Medlin, Associate Director, University Scholars Program. “The program itself is 34 years old and there has always been a residential component. During the last 10 years, the program began a living and learning village. Initially the village was spread throughout the entire building, and then it was consolidated to the 2nd-4th floors of Sullivan Hall, with all scholars living in the building. Now we are expanding the village to half of the fifth floor. The first year, scholars were assembled into small groups of 20 students with the Village in Action Program as an opt-in model. We had such a good response that in 2009 we made VIA a required component for living in the Scholars Village.”

Required VIA events are always changing. “The Scholars Village changes every year,” Medlin said. “We have never been married to doing it all the same. We change the number of VIA events to respond to student demand.”

Last year, the Scholars Village hosted four VIA events for residents.  This year they are introducing five. “One of my favorite activities was the High Ropes Obstacles Course,” Jernigan said. “There’s always a waitlist. Our most popular events are the service events like Habitat for Humanity.”

Not only do the VIA group programs and Scholars Forum help students grow intellectually and stimulate creative thinking, they also foster community. Building a sense of community among students living in the Scholars Village is integral to daily life in the village.

“Living and learning villages like the Scholars Village encourage students to participate in their community,” Medlin said. “The concept is important to feeling a part of the community when they arrive here on campus as freshmen.”

A sense of community is also what draws students to live in the Scholars Village and continue to live there after their freshman year. “I knew I wanted to live in a living and learning village since NCSU is such a large school,” Jernigan said. “I was accepted to both the Honors and Scholars Program, when I visited the open house, I liked everyone I talked to at the Scholars Village, so I applied to live there.”

The sense of community in the Scholars Village not only extends to residents, but also faculty and staff members working with the village. “My favorite part of working with the Scholars Village is getting to know the high-achieving students,” Medlin said. “They really give you hope for humanity. Back in 2005, during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I’d turn on the news and it was always terrible. I was really feeling down about the world. Through the program, I met a student working in a cancer research lab and they made a breakthrough in K-9 cancer research. It made me realize that there are always young people doing great things. They will grow up to be good people and parents and citizens of the world.”

The Scholars Village currently partners with the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Village; ARTS NCSTATE; Center for Student Leadership, Ethics, and Public Service (CSLEPS); Union Activities Board (UAB), and University Housing. The Scholars Village is also an invitation only living and learning village for students participating in the University Scholars Program.