Thursday, September 5, 2013

And we're back!

School is back in session for the fall, and I couldn't be more excited to start 15th grade!

This semester, I'm taking six classes, all of which seem really awesome so far. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I'm taking World Drama; on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have Dramatic Theory and Web Writing and Design; on Wednesdays I have voice lessons and on Fridays I am taking Stagecraft. My sixth class is gaining credit for my involvement in a Westminster production--I am stage managing And Then There Were None, the famous Agatha Christie murder mystery. Rehearsals start on Monday so this is my last week of free evenings before the craziness starts. I can't wait, though. Even though it's a lot of work, I see theatre as a way to hang out with some of my favorite people every night, and I still can't believe that it could one day be my job.

I also started my new campus job last week. I'm now working as a tour guide and student admissions representative for Westminster, which I already absolutely love! Talking to prospective students and showing them everything I love about Westminster is super fun, and I still get to work in the same great office as I did last year.

This semester is going to be hectic, but I love being involved, and as long as I remember to give myself time to breathe and just stay home and drink tea, it's shaping up to be my best college fall yet!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Honors Experience at Westminster

Life at Westminster revolves around community. Any student could name several communities they belong to, from residence halls and clubs to academic communities like majors and minors, or academic programs like Scholars and Honors. I'm part of the Honors program, and it's one of my absolute favorite things about my experience at Westminster. Being a part of this great community has enriched my time at Westminster immensely since I've been a student here.

In no particular order, these are my top five favorite things about being part of Honors at Westminster.

Interdisciplinary Classes
Each Honors seminar is team-taught by two professors from different disciplines. This method of teaching brings a new perspective to each class--I became more interested about the history of science, which I had never really studied in depth, when it was paired with philosophy and sociology in my two Honors seminars last year, History and Philosophy of Science (or HiPhiSci) and Science, Power and Diversity (or SciPoDi). Learning about one discipline from the perspective of another gives students a better view of the big picture and understanding of how everything from arts to sciences to politics is interconnected.

Nunemaker Place
Nunemaker Place, the Honors building on campus.
Events
Throughout the year, the Student Honors Council (the governing body of Honors, made up of four elected students) puts on a variety of fun and informative events, from speakers and luncheons to holiday parties and unique Honors traditions. The traditions are some of my favorite Honors events--every year, for example, a group of students gathers and builds a bonfire, into which we then throw our essays from the previous year (after ensuring they're safely backed up on a hard drive, of course). Then there's Casino Night, when Honors students and professors alike put on their swankiest outfits and gather in Nunemaker to play poker and banter the night away. Honors events are a great way to hang out with other students and professors outside of class, and enjoy each other's company in a less structured and academic setting. Check out the full list of Honors traditions here!

Opportunities
Something I've come to learn about Westminster is that students can find help and support for basically any endeavor if they know where to look. Whether it's starting a club, funding a business venture, applying for scholarships or post-graduate programs, or just writing a paper for a class, there are always people on campus who are excited to help you in any way they can. Honors is no exception. By the time you've taken 3 Honors classes, you'll have a network of at least six professors in different disciplines who know you personally, as well as the professors and students on the Honors Council, all of whom are willing to help you succeed. Honors-only opportunities include a unique study abroad option in Scotland, summer research opportunities, grad school preparation, and much more.


Peer Mentors
Westminster College Honors Peer Mentors
The 2012-2013 Honors peer mentors.
I'm in the middle, squinting into the sun...
Entering Honors freshmen have a little extra help when starting college at Westminster. In addition to their GO leaders, Honors students are assigned peer mentors who help guide them through their first year of colleges and the challenges that can come with being part of a rigorous academic program. This is my second year as a peer mentor, and it's a blast. I love meeting the new freshmen and running Honors orientation, which starts a day before regular orientation. This Thursday, we'll be helping the new class move in and prepare to start the year off right! Peer Mentors also help run Academic Decathlon, an academic program for high school students that Westminster hosts each spring. It's a great way to represent Westminster to potential students and have an awesome time with other Honors students!

Community
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, a big part of Westminster's culture is community. Honors students are an incredibly diverse group--our students come from every major and are involved in every corner of campus life. I have Honors friends whom I would have otherwise never met if we hadn't taken History and Philosophy of Science together, or been paired up at Honors orientation. But we all have shared experiences of staying up way too late writing our first long-form prompt in Humanities, or playing Just Dance at the annual Halloween party, or saying our tearful farewells to the graduating seniors at the spring banquet. The Honors family is a great resource and support group that has made my time at Westminster so worthwhile!

More Information
Benefits of Honors
Honors FAQ
Tips for Success
Westminster Honors Home Page

Monday, June 10, 2013

An Introduction to my Story: Life at Westminster College in Salt Lake City

Hello! I'm Shianne (pronounced like the capital of Wyoming), the newest Westminster student blogger. I can't wait to start chronicling my adventures at Westminster (and they are many). But since it's summer now and there isn't as much happening on campus, I'll start with some introduction!

A little bit about me...
I just finished my sophomore year at Westmini, and recently decided, after changing my mind five times in the last two years (more on that later), to declare a theatre arts major. I am so happy with my choice, and I am looking forward to my fall schedule more than ever! Still, after a hectic semester of classes, work, and rehearsals for our spring musical, Curtains, and our May Term show, In the Next Room, it's nice to take some time off and enjoy the summer.

The next few months for me will involve settling in to a new house, cooking, decorating, visiting my family's new house in Seattle, working in the admissions office, and stage managing The Merry Wives of Windsor with my friend's company. Oh, and blogging here! It's my first summer in Salt Lake (since I went home to Colorado Springs last year) and I am already loving the weather and all that the city has to offer.

My Westminster story
I want to end this post by telling the story of how I came to Westminster, starting about three years ago (wow, has it really been that long?) at the beginning of my senior year of high school. I was fed up with the college search, since there didn't seem to be a school in existence that had everything I wanted: small and close-knit, with lots of different programs, and a fun, laid-back atmosphere.

Around August of 2010, I got a letter in the mail saying I was a National Merit semi-finalist. I had no idea what this meant. I threw the letter away and promptly forgot about it. Not long afterward, though, I got another letter, this time from Westminster. They offered me a four-year, half-tuition scholarship for being a National Merit semi-finalist. Something about the materials they sent piqued my interest, and after poring over Westminster's website, I realized I might have found what I was looking for. My mom and I planned a trip to visit Salt Lake in October that year.

On the plane ride there, I had a wonderfully serendipitous experienceI happened to sit next to a Westminster senior who was on the way back from representing the college at a conference. We talked non-stop for the hour-long flight about all that Westminster had to offershe told me about the Honors program, her research experiences as an English major, and her semester abroad. My campus tour the next day made my decision even more apparent. I applied for admission and was accepted within a couple of weeks. In the spring, I applied and was accepted into the Honors program. After visiting campus once more for Admitted Students Day, I knew I had found my home for the next four years.

What about you?
If you are considering Westminster, I would love to answer any and all questions you might have. I love talking to prospective students! I'm especially happy to talk about the Theatre department and the Honors programmy two favorite parts of life at Westminster. Feel free to comment or send me an email: sag0115@westminstercollege.edu

Thanks for reading!