The Campuswide Honors Collegium exists to assist honors students through academics, community, and support, and we are proud that in the past months our pillars have held strong. UCI responded quickly to public health concerns around the pandemic, and by the start of spring quarter, all classes—including CHC courses— and students had “gone remote.” During this time, within a two-week period, we transformed the CHC Office from a physical place into a virtual version of itself, through an online chat system, virtual meetings with advisors, and online workshops and events. Along with the rest of the world, everyone quickly became familiar with Zoom, and learned how to attend the university in this very different environment.
In times like this, it is good to have traditions to hold on to: some of our longstanding and more recent CHC traditions helped sustain our community. Being a CHC student isn’t just about taking courses—our students engage in the honors community, supporting and learning from one another. Accordingly, nearly everything we usually do for our busy spring quarter went virtual. The Campuswide Honors Student Council (CHSC) met, Coffee Hour was held every Friday (BYOBeverage), and our signature events, Battle of the Brains, and the Senior Banquet went forward online.
What was impressive about all of these efforts was the ingenuity and good will of everyone involved in overcoming hurdles and making situations work. The honors Peer Academic Advisors, unable to meet with students in their office, created a series of videos to help students navigate the experience of being an online student. The CHSC moved forward with Battle of the Brains, our annual students versus faculty trivia contest. In order for this event to even be possible, they designed their own buzzer app so that contestants could buzz in from their living rooms. The Campuswide Honors Alumni Board held their annual “Honors to Meet You” student/alumni networking event virtually, and more alumni responded than ever before, meeting up with students on Zoom and sharing their career advice.
These are all great achievements, and by listing them we don’t want to overlook the fact that the pandemic has presented significant challenges for many. We are so proud of our students for navigating this new environment, and for reaching out to our office or other resources when they needed assistance, going to office hours, speaking with their professors, and continuing to move forward. We are proud of CHC students for bringing their intelligence and creativity to the situation, for supporting one another, and for persevering. It wasn’t easy, but you did it!
Particular kudos go out to the CHC class of 2020 who we celebrated with an online Senior Celebration on June 11. This virtual event recognized our graduating seniors with speeches, awards, and a special surprise of congratulatory greetings from a number of CHC core course faculty. Campuswide Honors Associate Dean Ted Wright lauded the senior class in a speech that recognized the fact that everyone has been tested by difficult circumstances in this “year like no other.” And while we all face myriad challenges, there is still hope: “But for my money, the bright light at the end of the tunnel is you. Yes, there are difficult problems ahead, but you have already shown that your grit and determination are up to the challenge.”
We hope you will join us in congratulating the CHC Class of 2020 and welcoming them as newly minted CHC alumni! Together we can make a difference.