Fall 2019 Student-Faculty Dinner

Note: an earlier version of this post stated that the dinner would take place on 12/4. This is incorrect, the dinner is on 12/11, from 5-7 PM.

Crab rangoon. Creamy, delicious, crab rangoon.
Crab Rangoon. The creamy, crabby, fried deliciousness. Can you feel it cry out to you?

Dear UHPers, the end of the semester is nigh. I know, it seems unbelievable. But here it is. The exams, the papers, the presentations…it can all seem like too much.

But fear not! Fortunately for us UHPers, semester’s end also marks the arrival of the always-anticipated Student Faculty Dinner. Join us on Wednesday, December 11th from 5pm to 7pm at Chalin’s Chinese to gorge on Crab Rangoons and other delectable treats. Tickets are $7 – that’s cheaper than Chipotle, even without the guac! For less than the cost of a burrito, you can enjoy mountains of Chinese food and stimulating conversation with your favorite students, faculty and staff of the UHP. A win-win situation!

How about this veggie lo mein? I can almost taste it.

Tickets will be on sale beginning THIS Wednesday, 11/20, in the UHP Townhouse. In order to get a ticket, you will need to come to the Townhouse and give us $7 in cash. Tickets will be on sale until 4 PM on Wednesday, 12/11 – if you plan to attend, PLEASE make sure you sign up! We want to give the folks at Chalins the best number of attendees we can. Will you still be able to purchase your ticket at the door? Yes. But will your doing so make me sad inside? Absolutely.

This year, we’re also adding a new element to the dinner – students will be able to invite their own favorite non-UHP professor along with them! This isn’t required, but if you’d like to bring someone along, you can print out or send them the invitation at the bottom of this post. We also have printed copies of the invitation in the UHP townhouse. If you don’t use this invitation, please be sure to tell them to RSVP! They can RSVP by emailing the UHP email.

A couple further notes: you will not need to come to the event together with the faculty you invite, they just need to RSVP to the UHP email. Invited faculty are also not required to pay.

Finally, some orange chicken:

Are you hungry yet?

Oh, and also the invitation:

Preparing for Early Registration? #UHPProblems

Is early registration getting you stressed? Here are a few tips from *cue old man voice* someone who’s done this once or twice in my day.

1) Plan out your classes before November 15!

I know it’s tempting to just focus on all of your current classwork, but preparing for next semester really helps keep you on track with your four-year plan and it means you won’t have to scramble at 6:59 AM the day of registration to get your CRNs ready. Programs like Coursicle are free and have all of your GW classes so you can make a schedule that works for you really easily. I’ve used Coursicle to plan every semester out and it definitely helps relieve any stress you may have about classes being at the same time or who is teaching what!

2) Treat yo self

Sleeping through registration is an easily avoidable situation (and also my worst fear). If that scenario sounds like you, listen up! Even if you’ve only been sleeping 5 hours a night all semester, try to get in at least 7 hours before registration. Waking up super early is a challenge, and if you’re not well-rested you may not hear your alarm… or the second one… or the third. The night before registration, I like to throw on a face mask and watch Netflix just to chill out. Self-care isn’t the same for everyone. Sometimes it’s taking a yoga class, for others it may just be taking a long shower or making some tea. However you practice self-care, make sure you feel your best for November 15th!

3) Ask for help if you need it

Asking for help can be scary, but if you’re feeling uneasy about next semester, your major, or even just what LSPA you should take, you have plenty of resources at the UHP ready to be there for you. Your Peer Advisors are here for this exact reason and could be a great source of student knowledge on what professors to take and what classes to avoid. Ben and Brianna are also here for you. It’s literally their job to help guide you through your time at GW and they have a wealth of advice just waiting to be used. Making an online appointment with them or emailing your Peer Advisor takes no time and could make a difference in your registration experience.

With that all said, good luck to everyone on November 15th at 7 AM for registration and Raise High!

#HonorsProblems: Navigating The Impostor-Syndrome Horror of Honors Classroom Discussion

Peer Advisor Natalie Stands in front of a pillar

Academic terror.  Sheer intimidation.  My first day of Origins, I considered dropping out of the University Honors Program.  Was I smart enough to be here? Could I get high enough grades? Could I contribute thoughtfully to discussion? These were the doubts rushing through my mind.  

I was surrounded by brilliant peers discussing their desire to be the next generation of philosophers.  The professor asked weighty philosophical questions, and the students had profound thoughts on modernity, philosophy, and society.  

I had never read an original philosophical text in my life.  

Though only a few semesters ago, I was misguided in my intimidation.  After becoming more immersed in the UHP community, I am now able to recognize the importance of self-reflection rather than comparison.

Chances are, I’m not going to be the smartest person in the room, the most well-read, or most well-educated.  But, there is one thing I can control; I can always be the hardest working.

Instead of becoming frustrated with the vast intellect of my peers or their quick grasp of concepts, I focus only on my level of effort. 

By re-centering my focus on personal work ethic, I can curb frustrations that often arise from comparison.  I can’t control the grades I will get on a paper or exam relative to my peers, but if I am confident in the time and work I put into studying, I should be satisfied with the outcome.

This mindset has not only allowed me to succeed in my academics but also in my internships.  Rather than accepting the status-quo of other interns, I prioritize my individual effort. Being proud of my attitude and the work I complete allows me to thrive in a workplace environment. 

Whether in Origins classes or internships, if I’m proud of the effort I invest, I have no other choice than to be content with the result.  As UHP students, it is normal to fret over the brilliance of our peers. But, recognizing that we are all selected as unique and valued members of this community is essential in becoming the best versions of ourselves.

Professor on the Town – David Sedaris at the Kennedy Center

A photo of David Sedaris. His smile is warm, and his glasses are cool.

Midterm season is here, and it weighs on all of our souls. So take some time for yourself! On Tuesday, October 15th, Professor Aviv is taking students to see David Sedaris at the Kennedy Center! Sedaris is a humorist, an award-winning author, and one of America’s finest storytellers- and you can see him live for just $15 (a *huge* discount)! 

See more of the details about the event here: https://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/XUCCD. (To be clear: that’s not the sign-up link, that’s just for info).

We only have 8 tickets left (in the orchestra section!), which will cost $15 per person. The tickets will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you are interested, email uhp@gwu.edu expressing your interest by 4pm 10/15. Payment must be brought *IN CASH* to the Honors Townhouse (714 21st St NW) for a valid sign-up.

UPDATE: We now only have *3 tickets left* – get your tickets today!

Join us for an evening of fun!

Reflecting on the GW Presidential Fellowship

Tereese Smith, UHP alumna and current 2nd-year Presidential Fellow, discusses the Presidential Fellowship and how she has gotten the most from her time at GW!


Hi UHPers! Similar to many students at GW and the typical “honors kids,” prior to and throughout my time at GW, I constantly searched for ways to get the most from my GW experience. This desire for more, drove my decision to apply to GW, the University Honors Program, and in my senior year, the GW Presidential Fellowship.
After my time studying abroad, I wanted to ensure I was prepared to enter development work, so, I decided I wanted to pursue a master’s degree after I finished undergrad. As I was researching various programs and funding options, I found the GW Presidential Fellowship. I attended an information session and realized it was an amazing opportunity to not only get my graduate degree, but to be a part of a program that is invested in the fellows, both personally and professionally.
The Presidential Fellowship, established in 1989, is a highly selective program, providing graduating seniors the opportunity to pursue a fully-funded master’s degree full-time at GW. Presidential Fellows also work in a GW office as a staff member and provide the student perspective while contributing to substantive work in the office. Through its pillars of ambassadorship, professional development, and academics, the Presidential Fellowship is able to provide the Presidential Fellows with a unique opportunity to not only pursue a master’s degree, but to interact with senior GW leadership to share ideas. Further, the program provides a supportive group of people, in both the advising team and the other fellows, to work towards a graduate degree and prepare for post-graduate life.
I am a second-year fellow, pursuing my Masters in Public Policy with a focus in International Development while also obtaining my Nonprofit Management Certificate through the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration (the HIGHEST ranked Public Policy/Administration program in the DMV). Through the fellowship, I am placed in the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service and am a Coordinator for Database Management and Outreach. In the Nashman Center, I have gained experience in multi-stakeholder engagement, database management, data analysis, and have been able to hone skills I am learning in my academic program.
As a Presidential Fellow, I have been able to not only pursue my graduate degree but also really work to develop both hard and soft skills that will make me an even better development professional. Moreover, I have been able to reflect critically about the skills and knowledge I have gained through my time here. With a vast alumni network of over 150 alumni, the program ensures time at GW and beyond is meaningful. For more information about the fellowship and the application, go to paf.gwu.edu. The application closes at 11:59pm on October 15. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or want to know more about the fellowship, tereese_smith@gwmail.gwu.edu. Hopefully, a fellow UHPer will be in the 2020-2022 cohort!

Hike Harpers Ferry with the UHP

Already getting sick of the city life? Eager to explore beyond E and K streets? Love the smell of the Shenandoah river in the morning? Hike with the Honors Program!

Sign up here (AND PAY $5 AT THE UHP OFFICE) by Wednesday, September 11 to reserve your spot!

On Saturday, September 14th, the Honors Program is hosting a $5 hike with your classmates, Prof. Ralkowski, and staff, and certified TRAiLS guides. We’re going to Harpers Ferry, a historic town in West Virginia, complete with actors in historic garb and a big ole mountain to climb!

Yeah, this is nice.

We’ll meet in the Foggy Bottom townhouse at 8:15am, and the hike should last most of the day, returning to campus in the early evening. Whether you are a professional hiker or have never even scaled an escalator, come out, enjoy the fall sunshine, and get to know UHPers outside the classroom. We’ll provide lunch and guides, and you’ll provide insightful questions and witty banter. See you there!

Office Hours, Appointments, and UHP Support – oh my!

aaaaaaall the UHP support

Your friendly neighborhood Program Managers, Brianna and Ben, are available to meet by appointment on both Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon. Click here to schedule! You can also email us at bcrayton@gwu.edu and benfaulkner@gwu.edu.

UHP Director Bethany Cobb Kung is also available for office hours 11am-12pm at the Mount Vernon Campus, and 2-3pm at the Foggy Bottom townhouse. You can also arrange an appointment by emailing bcobb@gwu.edu.

Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can help you this year!

Welcome from the UHP!

Dear University Honors Program students,

Hello and welcome to the start of the 2019-2010 academic year! As always, summer has passed quickly by and we are excited to begin a new year with you all. We look forward to challenging you and having you challenge us, too! 

This year brings a change to the Honors administration. Elizabeth Chacko will be overseeing the UHP as part of her new role as Associate Provost for Special Programs and the Mount Vernon Academic Experience. She will be working to energize the Mount Vernon Campus and build a dynamic, thriving intellectual community by bringing together faculty, students and post-doctoral researchers to tackle interesting research problems. Honors students – both those living on and off the Mount Vernon Campus – are encouraged to get involved in research activities, classes and seminars. For all UHP-specific research opportunities, check in regularly at: https://honorsprogram.gwu.edu/research-assistants and the Honors Blog.       

Bethany Cobb Kung is stepping into the role of Director of Honors and, as Director, will continue to be the main point of contact for all student-related matters in Honors. As always, your voices really matter to us and we welcome your input and feedback. Please visit during “UHP DirectorOpen Office Hours” (Mondays, 11am on the Vern; Thursdays 2pm on Foggy Bottom – check the UHP calendar for exact dates) to ask questions, provide feedback, complete paperwork or just chat! If those times are not convenient, please email to schedule an appointment. 

This year, we welcome a fantastic group of Faculty Fellows to the Mount Vernon Campus. This Fall, Philip Wirtz of the School of Business will be teaching “Data Science, Predictive Analytics and Ethics” and Arun Malik of Economics is teaching ”Natural Resources and Environmental Economics”. In the Spring, Ryan Engstrom from Geography will cover “Geospatial for Good”. Stay tuned for announcements about the “Food for Thought” lunches which will feature the Faculty Fellows and some of our core faculty members presenting their research to our whole community. 

This semester, the UHP will be working with GW’s Marketing and Creative Services department to develop an introductory video about the UHP to be featured on our website, which is currently being redesigned. We will be asking for some “on camera” volunteers and you might see cameras briefly in your classroom or at community events. You are always welcome to decline being videotaped (just inform the cameraperson) and we will do our best to keep disruption to a minimum.

As always – please check the blog regularly and read your Newsflash carefully to keep aware of the many exciting events that are coming this year. Only your involvement can keep our UHP community thriving! First up will be our Fall Hike, on Saturday, September 14th (details to follow, keep your fingers crossed for nice weather). Also take advantage of Professor on the Town events and other community programming as it arises. Planning way ahead, the Fall 2019 Student Faculty Dinner will be held on Wednesday, December 11th – prepare to eat lots of food! 

All the best,

Bethany Cobb Kung

Director, University Honors Program


Elizabeth Chacko

Associate Provost for Special Programs and the Mount Vernon Academic Experience

It's Okay to Not Have a Passion

“What are you passionate about?” It’s a question that has been asked all too often at college and one that I hate. I don’t have a passion. I have interests, sure. Hobbies? Maybe not; it’s not like I have a stamp collection or any extraordinary fascinations. I have a few favorite sports teams, follow a handful of comedians on Twitter, and sometimes read articles that pertain to my academic areas of interest. But none of these are all-consuming, enduring, I’m-an-expert-on-xyz-subject-matter passions.
Let me be clear. There’s nothing wrong with having a passion; some people find what they love early and take that to the end. Sometimes I wish I had a passion; because then I would know what I was destined to do and in what direction to go. It becomes problematic when you are constantly told that in order to be happy with your career, you need to work in an area you are passionate about. Or when you’re told to find your passion to find your career. It’s put a lot of pressure on me to hurry up and find my calling to pursue it wholeheartedly. But the truth is: my interests are constantly changing.
As college students, we are extremely malleable. And that’s a good thing – we open ourselves up to receive advice and the tools we need to shape ourselves into being the people we want to become. But if we’re too malleable, we are susceptible to blowing in whichever way the wind takes us. This can have consequences: wasting time on things that don’t work out, being unable to decide which direction to go in, and irreparably going down the wrong path. Some people would disagree saying that there is no wrong path or that something that feels like a mistake can actually be beneficial in the long-term. I welcome this positive outlook (I’m pretty optimistic myself), but it doesn’t ease the pressure that I feel now to figure out how I should apply myself to a career. I can analyze a research paper about mineral wealth and civil conflict on a Monday, listen to a podcast about the problems of ocean acidification on a Tuesday, read an article about data privacy policy on a Wednesday, and want to do it all. How can I make a career (or even an internship) decision when I’ve been told I must determine my passion first?
I’m passionate about whatever is in front of me. I’m passionate about getting stuff done – whether it be a research paper or a long list of chores. I’m passionate about making other people feel good. I’m passionate about feeling good myself. These “passions” cannot be fulfilled by one and only one career or discipline. Why should I be contained to only one area? Why shouldn’t I have the freedom to wear several different hats? Why is it wrong to have just a mild interest in a variety of different fields?
For those of you who do feel this way – I wish I could put your minds at easy with a quote or word of advice. The truth is I’m in search of that myself. But I can share with you that it’s okay to not have a passion. At the very least, you’re not the only one who feels overwhelmed that despite having the potential to succeed in anything you do, you simply don’t know where to start.
So please – don’t ask me what I’m passionate about. Ask me instead about the last TED Talk I watched. Unironically, here’s mine.

First-Year Small Group Advising – Spring 2019 Edition

Welcome back!

Spring break is over and the finish line is in sight! Now it’s time for one last round of first-year small group advising sessions. 

For this round, we’ll be prepping for fall 2019 registration, talking through your upper-level Honors requirements, walking through the major declaration process, and more.

All first year Honors students are expected to attend a session so make sure to sign up soon to get your preferred time slot! Meetings start Monday, March 25th and will be held in District House. RSVP for spring small groups here.


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