By Becca Carlson
*This article originally appeared in print and online in The Corsair in March 2018.
Last fall, the newly revamped Robinson Honors Program welcomed 27 new scholars from various academic backgrounds.
Among them were Angelina Simmons and Wren Godwin, both pursuing a General Studies A.A. but with very different paths ahead.
Simmons wants to focus on criminal justice and intends to transfer to the University of West Florida to pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the same field.
She would like to work for the FBI or Secret Service one day as she has a desire to work for the federal government.
Simmons has strong interests in working with cold-case homicides, sex crimes, specializing in blood spatter, forensics and also law.
“There’s a possibility I might be in school for a very long time,” Simmons said.
She is one of the honors students currently enrolled in the College Forum class.
“It mentally challenges academically-inclined students,” she said. “It teaches how to really excel in leadership skills.”
College Forum gives students the opportunity to discuss what kind of leadership skills each student already possess, as well as what it takes to be a leader.
In addition to the building leadership skills, students work towards being better community members.
“Right now, I’m in the process of looking over the American Creed,” Simmons said. “We’re reading, dissecting, making it more personable. I personally had not ever read the American Creed, so it was quite interesting to learn what it really is and where it came from.”
Community engagement will play a major role in successful completion of the honors program.
“I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity to do a lot of humanitarian work,” she said. “I genuinely love having the ability to serve other people in need.”
Students who work hard get rewarded with special events like the upcoming Costa Rica trip planned for July. Although the trip is open to all students and community members, honors students get a special discount— dropping the price from $2200 (which is still an awesome deal) to $550.
“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is not only the connections I’ll be able to gain on the trip with fellow students but the connections I’ll be able to gain with the culture. I’m Puerto Rican so it’s going to be interesting to go to a different Hispanic culture and see the lifestyle and be able to serve a community that really needs help.”
It’s not just academic excellence that’s expected of honors students. “I really believe that punctuality is a huge thing, leadership, commitment, personal organization and dedication,” she said. “Time management is another huge one.”
Simmons says her husband James is her biggest supporter.
“When I feel discouraged, he’s good about encouraging me, pushing me and challenging me. He’s awesome at helping me study, which is fun. He’s very supportive.”
Every scholar has their own secret to success. For Simmons, “The key to success is authenticity and passion.”
Godwin is using her General Education degree to transfer to another college like College of William and Mary or Florida State University to major in creative writing and minor in theatre.
“I love creative writing,” Godwin said. “I love creating characters. I’m interested in theatre as well. I loved acting when I was younger, I’d like to get back into that now. Take some acting lessons and get into community theater and who knows, maybe try to become a professional actress as well.”
Part of the honors program involves doing additional projects and work in certain honors subjects that are available on Canvas.
“It depends on what courses you sign up for, but for this semester I’m signed up for Intro to sociology and humanities arts as well as the honors college forum,” she said.
“For intro to sociology, we’re doing a map project in which we’re researching food deserts across the country, but we’re keeping it in Florida for right now.”
“For humanities arts– that’s sort of a mixed bag. There’s a few things you can do for the honors portion of the final project. You can write or draw something, or you can volunteer at the local art museum, so that’s pretty neat.”
Godwin is excited about participating in the program for what she’s gaining as an individual now and how it will impact her in the future.
“The college forum is meant to build your skills as a leader. We discuss what it means to be a leader, what you can do to be a better leader. We watched ‘Hidden Figures’ and talked about how the women in the movie were able to be leaders despite the challenges they had to deal with at the time.”
“We discussed types of leaders— famous ones like MLK but also leaders in your own life, your family, teachers and friends. I’m really enjoying the course.”
“I think another thing the Robinson Honors Program is trying to promote in you is to become a stronger person, help others, be there for your community.”
“We’re working on getting more involved in the community on campus or even outside of the campus.”
Her key to success: “Obviously, I need to stay focused on the task at hand with my work but at the same time not get so stressed out that I begin to ignore my artistic side.”
“Stay motivated on what you need to get done but don’t forget what you’re striving for either.”