Growing program

Honors helps prep students

Video By: Drew Larson


Aishling Doherty

Ricardo Black and Zinah Abraha help each other study in the Honors Center.

The Honors Program at Los Medanos College prepares students to transfer to top universities by providing useful resources and a supportive community of peers. It also includes an extracurricular component that adds a social and leadership dimension in the form of a club.

“It’s an exciting and dynamic place to be for anyone that wants to push themselves intellectually and personally,” said Honors Program Co-Director Jennifer Saito.

Saito has been the program’s director on and off since it first started in 1999, and is currently sharing director responsibilities with Kasey Gardner.

The program has grown in popularity over the years. Statistics show that in 1999 there were 51 active students. This year there are 150 active students, and 34 medal graduate honors scholars.

High-achieving students who combine academic excellence with extracurricular activities are those most likely to be admitted to top universities and win scholarship awards. This advantage is one of the many reasons students should consider joining the Honors Program, which requires LMC students to challenge themselves academically and actively participate on campus.

In addition, LMC’s Honors Program is the only East Bay member of the UCLA Transfer Alliance Program (TAP) and certified honors students may be eligible for a special admission to UCLA.

According to the Honors Program Student Handbook 2013-2014, honors courses are meant to emphasize creativity and collaborative teaching and learning. They also emphasize advanced topics and deeper understanding of course material.

“Students don’t get assigned more work but different work. The courses are more intellectual and students are more involved in class topics,” said Honors Administrative Assistant Marleen Willhoite.

For example, the regular Philosophy 2 class requires three seven-page papers, and so does the Honors version. But the paper topics may be more challenging.

The Honors Program offers a selection of a half-dozen courses each semester, including an ethics seminar, open only to Honors students. This spring there are courses in economics, math, humanities and philosophy, and the program is currently accepting applications.

But Honors isn’t just an academic program, it also promotes getting involved on campus, making friends, and having fun. Every fall a group of honors students and faculty spend a weekend on retreat, recently at Camp Tuolumne Trails, not far from the Yosemite Park entrance, and Camp Lodestar near Calaveras Big Trees.

“It has been a life-changing experience. When I first started college I didn’t care too much about my grades. I went to an Honors retreat for the first time and that event changed my attitude. I liked the experience and I was motivated to be the best I can be,” said Honors Club President Ashley Curry.

Curry has been actively involved in Honors for almost three years now, and said she will be transferring to UCLA after this spring.

Honors provides a community of similarly high achieving students who create bonds and support each other, not only because they are involved in the same Honors classes but because this program is also one of the most active groups on campus and organizes lots of fun, stimulating events.

Students enjoy supporting each other and sharing in each other’s successes.

“Students receive a level of comfort here. We all help and encourage each other. I’ve made good friends,” said Honors student Amber Woods.

For more information, or to download a program application, visit the Honors Transfer Program online at You can also contact Jennifer Saito at 439-2181 ext. 3369 or send an email to [email protected] Or, just stop by the Honors Center and check it out for yourself. It is located in the portable outside of Level 1 of the main College Complex.