LIU Honors Colleges Elevate Student Education Through Experience

Honors CollegeBees might not be the first flying species one would associate with Brooklyn. But, in fact, 55 different species of bees can be found in the borough’s community  ardens, and Alicia Miggins, B’14, a graduate of LIU Brooklyn’s honors program, spent her undergraduate years in the Department of Biology getting to know them. Under the tutelage of Associate Professor Dr. Timothy Leslie, an entomologist and expert on the interconnectedness of agriculture practices and insect populations, Miggins researched how green space, light, and variation in plant species determines the diversity of bee populations in urban environments.

“My experiences in Dr. Leslie’s lab gave me a passion for research and provided me with the skills needed to work efficiently while learning new techniques in any research environment,” she said. The experience prepared her for her current  osition as a Fellow at the National Institute of Health. Honors scholarships also allowed her travel to Boston to present her research findings.

Earlier this year, LIU expanded upon the collaborative and rigourous honors curriculum and transformed the honors programs at LIU Post and LIU Brooklyn into new Honors Colleges. The evolution reinforces LIU as a destination for students from around the country and world seeking top-tier experiential education programs in dynamic campus environments.

In addition to experiential learning opportunities and groundbreaking research alongside award-winning faculty scholars, LIU’s Honors Colleges are distinguished by its leadership. Dr. Joan Digby, founder and director of the LIU Post honors program, is the author of Peterson’s Honors Programs and Colleges, and a renowned scholar and international expert on honors curriculum development. 

Dr. Digby explained the vision for LIU’s Honors Colleges: “Honors education is about collaboration. It begins with motivated, smart, creative students and faculty who are energetic, intellectual, thoughtful, and caring. It brings them together for a collaborative experience, which, when it’s working, is pure magic and transformative for both parties.”

The bright future of the Honors Colleges are embodied by students like Sarah Pomerenke P’14, who traveled to the Everglades National Park to conduct field research as an undergraduate. Sarah camped in the wilderness for 10 days with honors students from around the country, and, upon returning to campus, joined the LIU Post Sustainability Committee and Recycling Program. Sarah graduated in 2014 with honors and began her studies in the LIU Post Masters Program in Environmental Sustainability.

LIU’s Honors Colleges emphasize an interdisciplinary and global approach to education through innovative and rigorous coursework supplemented by off-campus enrichment experiences at cultural institutions such as the Museum of Natural History, Barclays Center, concerts, art galleries, and more. “Students really feel that they’re having an experience that’s significant for them. It’s kind of a lifetime gift to their future,” said Dr. James Clarke, director of LIU Brooklyn Honors College.

Earlier this year, LIU faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni honored Dr. Bernice Braid at LIU Brooklyn’s Homecoming celebration. Dr. Braid founded the honors program in 1965, served as its director from 1968 to 2005, and was the driving force behind the Merit Fellowship program. The result is a legacy of intellectual excellence, social conscience, and entrepreneurial spirit, embodied by generations of graduates, including Irene Natividad B’71, founder and president of Global Summit of Women, who was a member of the inaugural honors class in Brooklyn. As the honors program transitions to a Honors Colleges, more than $100 million in scholarships and grants will be awarded annually to highly motivated LIU students.

Whether it’s history, biology, entrepreneurship, sustainability, or any other area of study, the Honors Colleges have something for all highly motivated, intellectual students. Dr. Digby emphasized, “There’s a place in the LIU Honors Colleges for students of every major to do the best possible undergraduate work.”

By Nick Light, LIU Magazine Spring 2015