police shooting tear gas into a crowd of peaceful protesters

Creators of Heavens and Hells

We’re living through some really tough times right now, especially for our Black friends and classmates. The UHP will be issuing an official statement on all this soon, but in the meantime, Professor Aviv has some fascinating thoughts on how the hellish realities of racism are not necessarily permanent but constructed.

It is a beautiful day outside, a Sunday morning. I sit at my desk with the lovely scene of trees in the yard. This is the bliss of summer break. Working at my office, it is not too hot just yet, and the birds are creating a sweet harmony that no Spotify playlist can best. But this quiet is deceiving, and this summer break is far from ordinary. These are days of disorientation and pain. The coronavirus pandemic exposed deeply rooted social fault lines. The economic toll is unimaginable and the mental pain of loneliness and being apart from our communities, friends, and systems of support makes the crisis much worse.

As if the health crisis was not enough, the horrors of this pandemic joined forces with much older ones, those of racism. Together they have created a tsunami of incredible pain, rage and violence. These visions haunt me; a policeman who kneels on the neck of George Floyd, the vigilantes who murder Ahmaud Arbery, followed by an outburst of rage and violent police backlash. Protesters in the streets are exposed to the threat of human violence and the havoc of COVID-19, many of them live in communities already vulnerable to the virus. Emotions of sadness, anger and helplessness flood me and fill me with an almost desperate need to make
sense of this chaos.

One powerful image that comes to my mind is that of a Buddhist hell. According to ancient Buddhist texts, our world includes six realms of existence. In the middle is the messy world of humans, filled with desires, anger and confusion but also with compassion and the possibility of change. There is also a realm that is a blissful world of divine beings who are fortunate to be free of most things that torment us, and then there are the Buddhist hells. A Buddhist hell is a place where no one wants to be.

Hells in the Buddhist imagination includes creative ways for its inhabitants to exist miserably. There are many hells, but they share some important characteristics. Denizens are often suffering from systematic abuse, life is a lengthy experience of fear and pain, and there are hell guardians whose job it is to keep the structure and institution of hell running. The environment is contributing to ones’ suffering, either too cold or often too hot, suffocatingly hot. Unlike in the monpainting of Buddhist hell with three people covered in blood and chains being chased by three tormentors with whips, all surrounded by fireotheistic version of hell, there is a way to leave the Buddhist ones, but it takes a long time and extraordinary effort.

But where are those hells? Are they real?

According to one school of Buddhist thought, the Yogācāra or Mind-Only school, these are the wrong questions to ask. All worlds are created by our minds, and hell exists for beings whose shared experiences construct their world as one. But if we, too, construct our world, in recent years our shared creation looks more and more like a Buddhist hell.  Think about the policeman (or policemen) who kneels on George Floyd’s neck. They are as human as you and I; they are people who were shaped by our social realities to become violent police officers. They bear responsibility, and so do we. This is not to assert an accusation, but as a statement about the deep, interconnected causal nexus that we are a part of. We are shaped by this world and shape it. These policemen grew up into this world where a black person is immediately seen as a suspect. It does not matter if that person is jogging around the neighborhood (Ahmaud Arbery), enjoying birds in the park (Christian Cooper), or just sitting at home (Botham Jean). Black Americans live in fear that they do not deserve. But it is not only black Americans, Asian Americans are also a target; Jewish Americans see a rise of antisemitic attacks; Americans originally from Latin America are abused by our immigration system. As evident from the rise of white supremacy, many white Americans are fearful too. They fear for their livelihood, fear of the pandemic, and the opioid addiction that has devastated many small cities. When we
construct a Buddhist hell, no one can be free from the suffering it entails. Some could have the illusion of safety, but as the COVID-19 taught us, when our social infrastructure is failing, a virus does not care to distinguish between which bodies it inhabits.

When pain consumes enraged fellow citizens, the streets of all of us are burning, the glasses around all of us are shattering. But here is the silver lining: this is a reality that we have constructed, and one that we can dismantle. When I say that “we have constructed” this reality, I do not mean just you and me; I mean you and me as well as generations upon generations of those who come before us. This is why the structures of this reality are so hard to dismantle. As my students and I recently discussed in my Buddhism and Cognitive Science course, we have sound evidence to show that these sorts of habituations form our individual
and social identities. They are the “eyes” through which we “see” the world. Except that we do not really see ‘it’–rather, we are constructing our world again and again. Together, we can recreate the same patterns that make the world more like a Buddhist hell, or we can create a better human realm with all its imperfections.

I am not deluding myself into the belief that we can entirely dismantle racism, sexism and other forms of social ills including cruelty to non-human animals. Nonetheless, we must act. In a recent interview that went viral, Cornel West cited Samuel Beckett in a way that captures this sentiment very well: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” We have to try. Our efforts will fall short, because as Buddhist cosmology tell us, the human realm is ever messy: we are not divine beings. But we need at the least to fail better. In one of the most profound Buddhist texts, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Śāntideva, an 8th century Buddhist monk and philosopher, instructed his readers about the perfection of the virtue of generosity. He reminds us that if it was possible to solve social ills like poverty, the Buddha and other sages who were smarter than us would have figured it out before. These are hard problems, but he reminds us of this not to discourage us, but to encourage us to commit
to action even when the results are unguaranteed: Śāntideva said that “the perfection of generosity is said to result from [a] mental attitude” (Crosby and Skilton 1995, 34). Our intention matters. To dismantles the structure of racism, sexism etc. we need a commitment, a sacred vow. This is because there will always be viruses, just as we will always have racists and sexists within our communities. It is not about the outcome: it is about the commitment to constructing a better human realm. We owe it to George Floyd, to Ahmaud Arbery, to Breonna Taylor and the countless victims of the pandemics that could still be alive today. We owe it to ourselves.

A COVID-19 Message to Our Seniors

Added Note from Brianna:

I was feeling really under the weather the day we filmed so I’m sorry for the miserable face. I love you all! Feeling better now!

Added Note from Josh:

Y’all know you’re super welcome to come to UHP events once you graduate, right? You’ll get free admission to Student-Faculty Dinners henceforth. I don’t want this to be the last I see of you! Come back around!!

Transcript:

Professor Kung: To all the UHP students who are graduating this semester, this is definitely not the final semester anyone was expecting for you. The entire faculty and staff of the UHP is heartbroken that graduation has to be cancelled. We are going to figure out a way to celebrate your accomplishments, we promise that. But in the meantime, remember that what you’re doing right now is a civic duty. We hope that when you think back on this semester, you’re going to focus on the fact that your actions and sacrifices have helped to slow the spread of this disease. For someone out there right now, today, what you are doing is literally a lifesaving act for them. So keep that in mind. 

Eydie: Hi guys, you know me. I’m a sap. Graduation time is the most wonderful time of the year for me and i’m feeling sad too. Just remember, we will come together. We are GW and we will figure out a way. And people are at work right now figuring how to make the end of your experience at GW better than what you’re going through right now. We are thinking about you all. We are thinking about your parents and how proud they are of you. We are proud of you guys! We are gonna get through this. I may cry a little but that wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. Take care!

Josh: I echo everything that was just said. I have a special connection to this class because I entered GW with y’all and with a little twist of fate left a little earlier. But we have been through it, one might say. Because we entered in 2016 with the 2016 election and we are leaving and being sent off by COVID-19. So you know, it’s just the way it goes. But yeah, I echo when we heard about in person classes being cancelled for the rest of the semester, it was a blow to all of us especially on behalf of you guys. College has this unique sense of community to it, and having that ripped away early is a really rough thing. But we are working our hardest to give you that sense of community feel virtually. It won’t be the same, but it will be something! Through the digital townhouse project, be involved there, be connected there, stay with us! We care about you. 

Ben: Hey everybody, seniors. We just want to let you know how sad we are about the events that have taken place lately and the fact that we won’t be able to see you in person for the rest of the semester. Honors advising is still open for business. We are here virtually for you and if you want to check in about the remainder of your classes, just to chat about life, to catch up, Brianna and I are here for you. We definitely want to continue staying in touch. You know how to access our calendar, put time on it so we can catch up and stay connected with you.

Brianna: As Ben said, we still have appointments so definitely reach out. I know we’d love to hear from you and I hope everyone is doing well. I’m not going to pretend I know all of the answers right now with all of the balls up in the air but I’ll figure it out with you. So we are here for you, please take care of yourselves and we will see you soon. 

Professor Hammond: Hi everyone, I am listening to what everyone is saying and I’m just reminded about how bummed I am that we are not going to get to celebrate you all in person. As Josh was saying, and as I am remembering you all came in at a really interesting time and now you’re leaving at a really interesting time and that’s… interesting for a lack of a better word. I’m going to miss you all and I hope there are lessons that you all can take from this. Which sounds like a really trite thing but I really think there definitely will be and the sacrifices that you all are making for the greater good here. Insert some really prolific X-Files quote, for those who know who know will know. I hope you all are taking care of yourselves. So much is up in the air and there’s a lot you can’t control. But something you can do for yourself and those near you is reaching out and connecting with us and your loved ones. 

Professor Ralkowski: Hey guys! So I wanted to connect with a couple things that people said already. I feel exactly the same way that Eyde does about graduation. It feels like a holiday, like Thanksgiving to me– it’s one of my favorite times of the year. This particular graduation is one I’ve been looking forward to since you were freshmen. Precisely because I feel a special connection to your class. Your freshman year was the first year that I lived in West Hall and the first year I started doing pancakes with the Professor and this little dog on the scene. In a way I think of you guys all as Lola’s siblings. To be honest, I was looking forward to this graduation but also dreading it because I know this end of the academic year is going to feel like someone ripping my heart out of my chest. And now, we are in this very strange place in life facing a global crisis. 

The one thing I wanted to say that is meant to be heard just in the spirit of solidarity is I can imagine you guys are feeling a lot of anxiety about the future. There’s disappointment about graduation and then there’s anxiety about what’s to come for you and your careers that are not yet started. The one thing I can say that is just minimally related to your experience. I finished my PhD just as the 2008 economic crisis hit us. The job market looked really bleak and for about 2 years, I was losing all hope of finding an academic position, But then I ended up with this one. And I couldn’t feel happier that I’m in this place. So, I just want to ask you guys to persevere, to stay strong, and to have faith in yourselves because I really mean it. This couldn’t be happening to a greater group of GW students and if anyone can make it you guys can. You’re going to be fine, Last thing I’ll say, I’ve talked to many of you about having a BBQ at my house in celebration of graduation. That offer is still on as soon as we are out of quarantine. So see you guys there!

Professor Aviv: Hi everybody. So just following up on two things that Mark said. First of all, I too graduated in 2008 and I started my graduate program a day after September 11, 2001. So, absolutely we are going through unprecedented and very scary times. But you are really well equipped. You started your program in 2016, right around the election and you’re graduating into a once in a century pandemic. And I think there is no clearer message to you than the world really needs your talent and energy to change it and make it a better place. It was really a pleasure to meet so many of you, have conversations in and outside the classroom and I look forward to continuing them so read out to me whenever you want and whenever you can. Worst case scenario I’ll be at Mark’s barbecue too. We talked so many times about ideas that shape the world, and now it’s your turn. So, congratulations, celebrate your achievements and we will find a way to celebrate it together. And take good care of yourselves. 

Professor Trullinger: Hello everyone, it’s hard to follow up these messages of hope and encouragement with anything really special of my own to say. So I guess i’ll just share a message of personal gratitude. The graduating class is one that has come through a lot in terms of the external world. But those of you who are close to me, it has been a time of great personal trial for me. And so I do  feel a special sense of connection to you all and to people I’ve known from the beginning, those I’m just getting to know now. And it’s really been a very special opportunity of, now I say i the past tense, but the reality is I’m still going to be here and I am still available as I like to say in my classes, there’s a lifetime money back guarantee where you can always ask me about something years down the road about something you learned. But also just for knowing how you’re doing. This is definitely not what any of us expected but the reality is, this was always a case, maybe not with this particular challenge, but with challenges in general. The important thing we do is to remember the character we display in the midst of the circumstances is really the most important. Remember to do well, be well, take care of yourself, and also be good to one another.    

Professor Kung: Just to wrap things up here. Not all the faculty could be here today but everyone is thinking of you. Again, we are going to make sure that you get the recognition that you deserve. Please keep in touch, we love our alumni coming back and visiting, and talking, and emailing, and writing blog posts. So we expect to still hear from you even after the conclusion of all of this. 

COVID-19 Tips and Updates

Hello, UHPers!

We know this is a rough time for everyone due to the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) outbreak and the precautionary measures everyone is needing to take at this time. We have some updates for you about UHP operations, and then a note from the Director of the program about the shift to online instruction, as well as tips for you as you navigate being students in that context.

UHP COVID-19 Related Updates:

All UHP courses will be taught online from March 23 through April 5.

  • The UHP Townhouse will be closed to student socialization during that period, as group gatherings on campus are being discouraged…
  • …but, we are going to be launching the Digital Townhouse Project during this time! We want to make sure you can still have spaces to engage in community, even if you aren’t on campus. To learn more about it, click here.
  • WebEx virtual one-on-one advising meetings will be available – you will sign up online as usual.
  • First-year small group advising will be shifted to online virtual sessions – attendance
    remains mandatory. You will receive more information on how to access these sessions from Brianna and Ben soon.
  • Trivia Night (which would have been held on March 29th ) is cancelled :(.
  • If campus does fully re-open on schedule and you are unable to make it back on time (for example, if you become ill or are quarantined), please let your instructors and Ben or Brianna know!

A Note from the Director:

As GW will now be officially moving instruction online from at least March 23 through April 5, let me take a moment to talk about how UHP faculty and staff hope our students will react to this shift. I will also provide some tips for maximizing your learning in the online environment. First of all (as has been said before) please plan to be patient and flexible. Some faculty have never taught online before and so a learning curve is to be expected. For a planned online course, an instructor would have spent many months beforehand training on the relevant technological tools and designing the course specifically for the online environment. Obviously, this won’t be the case for your current classes. That said, please know that your instructors will be doing their absolute bests over the next few weeks to make sure you continue to master course content and skills.

We always talk about the “intellectual omnivorousness” of UHP students – which must, by definition, include a willingness and desire to be a truly self-directed learner. This interest, independence, and self-motivation are key to helping you succeed intellectually for the remainder of the semester. We hope you choose to envision a few weeks of online learning not as a burden or a “less-than” experience, but as an interesting educational experiment and an opportunity to mature and develop as an adult learner. Effort will be required, but if you put in the effort you will be rewarded with knowledge.

Communication is going to be incredibly important in the coming month. Please read all email very carefully and check for Blackboard announcements regularly. Be in contact with all your professors as soon as possible if you expect any technology challenges while off campus (for example, if you won’t have access to a stable internet connection). Some faculty will hold class using synchronous (real time, interactive) online sessions. These sessions can only be held during the standard class time band (e.g. a course that meets M/W 12:45-2pm EDT can only meet online during those exact times) – this is to ensure that no student will have a time conflict between two different online sessions. This means, however, that students who will be living outside the Eastern Daylight time zone may need to attend a session at an odd local time. You should communicate directly with your professor if this is the case, but please realize that faculty members are not authorized to change class meeting times and may still require you to attend.

Even online, collaborative work with your peers is likely to remain an important part of your learning. Working with your peers online requires clear peer-to-peer communication, of course. Plan to use various online tools that are designed for distance collaboration, such as Google Doc and Slides. GW students also have access to WebEx, which will allow you to work directly through video conferencing and desktop sharing.

Finally, a quick guide to being an online learner:

How to be a student in a synchronous online course:

1. Prepare just like you would for any class session (complete the assigned reading, come with questions, etc.).

2. Find a quiet place with a stable internet connection where it is also okay for you to talk aloud if the course will include a discussion component. Whenever possible, use a computer with a camera and microphone (if need be, however, that you can login to Blackboard Collaborate via your computer but then use a phone to call in/speak). Before you activate your camera, check around you to make sure nothing embarrassing will show up with the camera field of view!

3. Login at least 10 minutes early for the first online class meeting to make sure that the software is functioning correctly.

4. In Blackboard Collaborate, you will enter the classroom both muted and with your camera off. Be sure to activate your camera but keep your microphone muted until you need to speak to avoid background noise (e.g. typing, dogs barking).

5. Use the “raise your hand” button if you have a question. Alternatively, you can type questions into the chat function. Remember to unmute yourself when it is time to speak.

How to be a student in an asynchronous online course:

1. Check for new Blackboard announcements and assignments daily.

2. Consider pretending like the class is meeting at its regularly scheduled time and use that “in class time” to complete online assignments and activities. At minimum, keep careful track of due dates to avoid scrambling/cramming at the last minute.

3. Keep in mind that even if a faculty member will not be grading every assignment you have been asked to complete, you are cheating yourself out of learning the material if you do not make an effort to do the work.

4. If you are asked to participate in a text discussion via the Blackboard Forum, here are some tips for participating in an online discussion board.

5. Read all directions carefully and ask questions if anything is unclear.

6. Make use of instructor “virtual office hours.”

The Digital Townhouse Project!

Hello, dear UHPers!

We get that this is a really tough time for everyone right now, and that wherever you end up in the coming days, it may not be the most pleasant of times. So we want to provide you some virtual community! Thus: the DIGITAL TOWNHOUSE PROJECT! We would love for the home-y, welcoming feel of the townhouse to be present with all of you still, despite all the change and anxiety in the air.

That said, we don’t know how this is going to play out at all yet (it’s quite new for us!), and I’d like your help! Below, we’ve got a form with some of the different options we’ve been thinking of. They aren’t things we’ve prepared for yet, but we’d love to get your feedback on all this, and also your ideas!

Note from the Director on COVID-19 Virus Preparation

Greetings,

I know you have all been hearing from many different campus partners about the University’s response to COVID-19, but I wanted to quickly let you know how the UHP is responding to the challenges raised by this virus.

For the time being, the UHP is open and operating as normal. Spring classes are meeting, and the townhouse is open for study hours. That said, this is obviously a fluid situation and the UHP will adhere to all University recommendations and directives as they arise. In particular, GW has suspended all non-essential, GW-affiliated international travel and is requiring community members traveling within certain countries to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Unfortunately, these travel restrictions will impact the spring break and summer plans of some UHP community members. Advisors Brianna and Ben are available to help students navigate any last-minute changes that might affect a student’s four-year plan. In light of COVID-19, please consider your personal travel plans carefully for the upcoming spring break week. In the event that you become ill or are subject to quarantine, UHP faculty members are aware that flexibility will be required and are prepared to make appropriate individual accommodations. Communication is definitely the key here, so please be in email contact with your instructors directly if you are unable to attend class. Please do not attend class if you are not feeling well!

In the event that the University decides that it is prudent to cancel some (or all) face-to-face class meetings, the semester will continue using online resources. We ask students to be flexible and patient as there are bound to be some initial technical hiccups. Also, each faculty member will use different online tools and teaching methods, depending on the course content and format – so follow directions carefully and ask questions if you are uncertain about any course expectations. In the event of campus closures, Brianna and Ben will still be available for advising sessions, which will be held via WebEx.

Let me conclude by echoing the GW Student Association’s message of “stay informed, stay calm, and be kind.” Keep reading your emails carefully, keep washing your hands and keep looking out for one another. Further, the UHP will not tolerate any bullying, scapegoating or demonization connected to the COVID-19 virus. Bias and xenophobia have no place within our community of scholars, so please immediately report any acts of hate or bias that you have experienced or witnessed. If you have any questions, you can also reach out to me directly at bcobb@email.gwu.edu..

Bethany Cobb Kung
Director, University Honors Program
Associate Professor of Honors and Physics

Senior Thesis Info

All students in the University Honors Program must complete a Senior Thesis as part of their Honors curriculum. A Senior Thesis is, broadly, a substantial work of independent scholarship that culminates in a written product, presentation, or performance. The Senior Thesis project can come in many different forms; this is your opportunity to get creative and explore an idea or topic that interests you. Additionally, your Senior Thesis must be supervised by a full-time GW faculty member.

What kind of topic should I explore?

Think about some of the classes you’ve taken thus far. Was there any topic that sparked your interest? Was there something you touched on but didn’t fully cover? Think about classes you’ve haven’t taken. What courses would you have liked to take? What kinds of material would they have explored?

Does the topic have to be in my major?

Not at all. You can do a thesis on Art History even if you’re a Business major, or a Philosophy thesis as an engineer. In fact, this might be a time to discover more about a topic that you’ve always thought about but would never otherwise explore. On the other hand, perhaps you are going into graduate school for English Literature and you want to have a solid product of work to submit as part of your application. Or perhaps you just want to dive more deeply into the topics you’re already familiar with!

Ok, so I have a topic. How do I find a faculty member to supervise me?

Keep in mind that only full-time GW faculty members can supervise your project. Think about professors that know your work or with whom you’ve already formed a relationship. Have you done research with a faculty member? Is there a faculty member that studies something similar to what you want to research? Is there a faculty member you’d like to get to know more?

If you don’t know the professor too well, you will need to think about how you plan on approaching them. Keep in mind that even faculty that you are close with are not required to be your advisor! If you have questions about how to approach faculty or who to pick, it may be helpful to reach out to the undergraduate program chair in that department, ask fellow students about their experiences, or talk to Brianna or Ben.

How early should I start talking to potential advisors?

Definitely start before the semester you plan to work on the thesis, but the earlier the better. If you can, get the conversation started a year in advance! It never hurts to start having these discussions early on as they may lead you to other paths. Maybe one professor isn’t available to help you—but they know of a colleague who is. Maybe your potential advisor can start narrowing down ideas with you. At the end of the day, the last thing you want is to be scrambling during the Spring of your Senior year to figure out all these details!

Alright, I have a topic and an advisor. What now?

Next on the docket is working on an Honors Contract so you can be registered for HONR 4198 (our Senior Thesis course). . The Contract is an agreement between you and your advisor on the nature of the thesis work, the meeting schedule, deadlines, etc. The course doesn’t have a pre-established meeting time or topic, so the Honors Contract serves as the syllabus. Once we receive the Honors Contract materials, Brianna and Ben will be able to add HONR 4198 to your schedule. Based on the nature of the work, you and your advisor will decide if the course should count as 3 or 4 credits.

I’m already doing a thesis for my major though…do I need to do that and HONR 4198?

Nope! We know that many majors already have a thesis built into the curriculum. As long as the course involves substantial work similar to a thesis, it will fill your Honors Thesis requirement. If you choose this path, you will need to fill out the Senior Thesis Verification form (see below). In this form, you will list the course serving as the replacement for the Honors Thesis and have your faculty advisor sign, agreeing that the course is equivalent to the Honors Thesis. The replacement course must be 3 or 4 credits. If you have any questions on which courses qualify as an Honors Thesis, please reach out to Brianna or Ben (emails below).

My major has Special Honors. Does that count?

In short: if your major(s)’ Special Honors requirements include a thesis, it counts. If not, it doesn’t. Either way, you’re welcome to still pursue it! If you’re not sure of the requirements for Special Honors in your major, we recommend you reach out to your major advisor or school advising center. Once you have more information, be sure to follow up with Brianna or Ben to ensure that your thesis will count (as discussed above).

How many pages should my thesis be?

We don’t require a set page count. A thesis performing quantitative research in Microbiology will likely be shorter than one doing qualitative analysis in Religious Studies, for example. See below for a guide to proposed requirements for various disciplines.

I don’t see my question. Who should I ask?

Program Managers, Brianna Crayton (bcrayton@gwu.edu) and Ben Faulkner (benfaulkner@gwu.edu) are happy to help answer your questions on the Honors requirements. For questions on In regards to aspects of your research, for example, a faculty member would be most helpful.

For more on Honors Thesis options: Check out this info packet.

Click here for suggested requirements broken down by various disciplines.

Click here to access the Senior Thesis Verification and Honors Contract forms.

Social Media Spotlight: LinkedIn!

Fun facts: there are two UHP logos in this picture, not just one.

With this, dear UHPers, we have come to the final episode of our social media spotlight series: LinkedIn.

Yes, that’s right, the UHP is on LinkedIn.

For a couple years now, the UHP has had a dedicated LinkedIn group where students can get connected with fellow UHP alumni to network and learn more about different industries. Turns out, we’ve been around for a bit now as a program, and we’ve got all sorts of alumni in all sorts of industries!

Here are the main purposes of this group. We want to:

  1. Connect students with alumni
  2. Connect students with each other
  3. Connect alumni with each other
  4. Build virtual community through career-related posts.

One: This is pretty much self-explanatory. Join the group as a student, scroll through our member list, and connect with one of our alumni that you’d like to learn from. It’s a whole lot more likely that you’ll be able to successfully connect with someone via LinkedIn if you already have the commonality of both being UHPers!

Two: This might seem unconventional, but there’s a lot y’all can learn from one another! If you’re trying to intern for the Department of Justice, there’s a strong chance you’ll be able to find a student who’s currently interning there in our membership. That way, you can chat with them, learn about their experience, and try to see if it’s for you.

Three: That’s right, this isn’t all for students! After you graduate, you can still take advantage of this network and connect with other alumni of the program through this group.

Four: We don’t want this to just be a place for people to LinkedIn-stalk –  we want people to post interesting career-related articles and opportunities here, too! Have something you think the UHP community might be interested in? Don’t hesitate to post it!

Also, we’ll be steadily inviting more and more alumni as time goes on. If you don’t see an alum you’d want to reach out to when scrolling through the group members currently, check back periodically!

Check out the other posts in our social media spotlight series: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

A Hearth for the School-Weary: Townhouse Guide

A Sophomore student enters Gelman library. She’s looking for a place to sit comfortably and lay out her study materials. Floor 2? The computers are taken, the couches are taken, the study rooms are taken. She ascends the stairs to Floor 3 – no luck there either. After spending a half hour searching for a place to study, finally, a study room is open. She settles in, grateful to have finally found a place to study…only to be kicked out 10 minutes later.

Have you ever experienced this? I certainly did when I was a student here. But there is a solution, dear UHPers! The Honors Townhouse!

From 9am – 5pm on Mondays through Fridays, you can come in to the townhouse at 714 21st St NW and make use of our space! It has a lot of components though – so pay careful attention!

Part 1: The Club Room

The Club Room is the communal hub of the townhouse. It’s our most popular study space and where most of our events take place. It’s a great place to study, eat lunch, and just generally hang out (see below).

Pictured: Jared Bulla (CCAS ’20), Anna Peacher-Ryan (CCAS ’20), and the lunch of Patrice Narasimhan (ESIA ’20)

It’s also an excellent “home base” on Foggy Bottom for you Vern-folk! In the words of Trey (SEAS ’20), “When I was a Freshman, I was a Vernie…it was kind of my ‘home away from home.’ And now, again, that I live off campus, it’s true again.”

Jared, a student who spends nearly every day in the townhouse, makes a standing desk out of the Club Room podium.

Part 2: The Kitchen

It is in the kitchen that the true perks of being in the Honors Program come to fruition. If you don’t already know, there is a Keurig machine, a hot chocolate machine, and a water dispenser (with ice-cold, hot, and sparkling settings) to which all UHP students have free and unlimited access! The only requirement? Bring your own mug/water bottle. You can always fill up the mug and then sit around and study in the Club Room or basement!

Jason Rucker (CCAS ’22), fills his mug with coffee

Part 3: The Basement

Not everyone knows about the basement. It’s a unique sort of place. It’s very rare that we have events down there, so it’s almost always open when the townhouse is. It’s usually quiet, secluded, *and* it’s got two whiteboards with an avalanche of markers! Right now, the basement is sad and empty (see below). Fill it with your presence, dear UHPers! In order to access the basement, go down the stairs across from the kitchen, and go to the right!

Part 4: The Front Office

And finally we come to my domain: the front office. The front office isn’t fundamentally a communal space like the Club Room or the Basement, but you’ll often run into faculty, other students, and of course myself here! Feel free to drop by anytime to say hello – I love meeting new students!

More often than not though, the relevancy of this office is the candy and the food! We have a free candy jar that is usually full of goodies:

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And also, we often have free food sitting around from after events! Pro tip: we announce when we have free food on Twitter and Facebook, so like us and follow us below!

Part 5: The Thoughts of the Community

And finally, for the thoughts of others within our UHP community:

“My favorite part about the townhouse is…besides the free Keurig drinks, it’s a welcoming and warm place to study and have good discussions, to see people from class that you wouldn’t otherwise hang out with.” – Anna Peacher-Ryan, CCAS ’20

“Coffee, food, a place to study. What more could you need?” – Bridget Carl, GWSPH/CCAS ’21

“I love the townhouse, it’s the place where everyone knows your name. I thoroughly enjoy the free coffee, and recently I’ve been also really enjoying the sparkling water. As a former La Croix addict, I really enjoy the sparkling aspect.” – Jason Rucker, SMPA ’22

“I love the water and snacks.” – Marshall Deng, CCAS ’21

“[The townhouse is] a locus of intellectual activity on this campus…I spend oodles of time here throughout my week. It’s a very productive place, both intellectually and in terms of my…work.” – Jared Bulla, CCAS ’20 (and also the one pictured several times throughout this post).

Also, enjoy these additional photos taken for the purpose of this spotlight, but that did not fit anywhere else:

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Social Media Spotlight: Facebook!

This one took me far too long to do in Photoshop. Please admire my handiwork.

Ah, Facebook. Ol’ Faithful. The land of parents, baby photos, extended family members you’ve talked to once, and acquaintances from middle school that you wouldn’t say hello to now if you passed on the street.

The UHP Facebook page is an active place – a hub of free food notifications, event announcements, and program announcements. It is probably the best place other than the blog and the NewsFlash to find information about upcoming events and deadlines for the program.

There’s nothing fancy about our Facebook page. It has no fun Insta stories managed by Peer Advisor Brittney, nor Weekly Wisdom Tweets from Peer Advisor Ryan. The UHP Facebook stands strong nevertheless, a bulwark of regularity in the chaos that surrounds us. It has weathered many a storm, lived through many an SA scandal, seen Honors Advisors and Program Coordinators come and go. It has survived them all.

So, if you have a Facebook and haven’t already, come on over and give us a like. Let your timeline, filled as it is with videos of obscure stand-up comedy and endless political arguing between people you’re not sure you’ve ever even met, be dotted with the delights of the UHP. Find us here: https://www.facebook.com/theUHP

Social Media Spotlight: The UHP Instagram!

The following is the first of our Social Media Spotlight series. We’re doing a bunch of new things with social media this semester, and we’re really excited to share it all with you! Stay tuned for info on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook!

Instagram: an endless field of photos, the land of strange filters and stranger captions, Selfie Sundays and Throwback Thursdays, and for the last year and a half, the GW UHP. But we’ve got some new things going there – hence this blog post!

Those of you who follow us may have noticed that we’ve started posting more Instagram Stories. You’ll be seeing more of those! Our Peer Advisors and Honors RAs will be doing regular stories to give you a glimpse into their glamorous, magical lives and answer your questions.

We also want to start featuring more of the UHP community out and about on our Instagram! So when you’re hanging out with other UHPers and take a picture, send it over to us! Peer Advisor Brittney is going to be managing a lot of the Instagram, so send your pictures to her at brittneyho@gwu.edu.

Check out some of our recent Insta Content below!

That’s all for now folks – follow us on Instagram if you haven’t already!

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