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2012 News

A $10,000 Four-Year Degree? How about a $0 Four-Year Degree ?

December 3rd, 2012 (Jupiter, FL)—The high cost of attending college has recently been receiving a great deal of attention.  As part of the ongoing discussion about how best to deal with the financial pressures that many families are increasingly under, Governor Rick Scott of Florida has challenged academic leaders in the State to see if they could develop a four-year degree that would cost students no more than $10,000.  But at the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University, they have gone one step further: Students can apply for several opportunities to receive a degree in four years that ends up costing them absolutely nothing.  The Wilkes Honors College calls it the $0 Four-Year Degree.
That opportunity is possible in a number of incredible programs, all available to incoming freshmen.

  1. The Henry Morrison Flagler Scholarship, for Florida residents only, pays up to $7,500 per semester (fall and spring) for room and board as well as tuition and fees not covered by Bright Futures.  The program also covers the cost of four summer enrichment programs, including two internships and a study abroad experience. The Flagler Scholarship thus totals more $72,000 over four years, providing students with an outstanding educational experience and leaving them with an excellent résumé when they apply to graduate school, professional school, or the world of business.  More information is available at http://www.fau.edu/divdept/honcol/financial_flagler.htm
  2. The George D. Cornell Honors Scholarship, also for Florida residents only, pays up to $7,500 per semester (fall and spring) for room and board as well as tuition and fees not covered by Bright Futures, a total that can reach $60,000 over four years.
  3. The Harriet L. Wilkes Arts and Humanities Scholarship, for both Florida and out-of-state students, similarly pays for room and board as well as tuition and fees of up to $7,500 per semester for fall and spring (a total that can reach $60,000 over four years). In order to be considered for this highly competitive scholarship, students must declare and pursue a concentration in the fine arts or humanities at the Wilkes Honors College.
  4. The Harriet L. Wilkes Social Sciences Scholarship, for both Florida and out-of-state students, also pays for room and board as well as tuition and fees of up to $7,500 per semester for fall and spring (a total that can reach $60,000 over four years). The Harriet L. Wilkes Social Sciences Scholarship is only open to students who declare and pursue a concentration in history or the social sciences at the Wilkes Honors College.

What all four of these scholarship programs mean is that a Florida resident, if eligible for Bright Futures and selected for one of these opportunities, can take fifteen credits of coursework per semester in the fall and spring, live and eat on the beautiful John D. MacArthur campus in Jupiter, and graduate in four years having paid little or nothing for the degree.  Even for out-of-state students, the two Harriet L. Wilkes Scholarships are great opportunities.  Many of the students who receive the Wilkes Scholarship may also qualify for out-of-state tuition waivers.  But, even if they don’t, the generosity of these scholarships means that their degree will cost them relatively little.

The priority deadline for all of these scholarships is December 15, 2012, so FAU’s Wilkes Honors College urges any student who is at all interested in one of these programs to apply right away at http://www.fau.edu/honors/admissions_how_to_apply.php
Additional information about these and other Honors College Scholarships is available online .


Touching One Life, Touching Many:
Wilkes Honors College Professor Holds Exhibit at the Florida Museum for Women Artists

November 30th, 2012 (Jupiter, FL)—Professors at Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College have a strong commitment to ensuring that their students receive the best undergraduate experience possible and thus devote much of their day to instruction, mentoring, and evaluation. However, these intense schedules do not keep the Honors College faculty from conducting their own research and engaging in artistic pursuits. Professor Dorotha Lemeh is an internationally acclaimed artist who offers her students the opportunity to develop skills in a variety of artistic media, including painting, three-dimensional art, and photography. Her own artwork has been exhibited around the world, including multiple exhibitions in Nigeria and China, and now is receiving renewed attention closer to home. Professor Lemeh has been invited to exhibit her works in the Third Annual Juried Art Show at the Florida Museum for Women Artists in DeLand, where more than fifty contemporary artists will be showing their work.
           The show began on November 16th and will remain open until January 12th. During that time, visitors will have the opportunity to see artwork produced using many different artistic media, including oil, watercolor, and acrylic painting, wood and clay sculpture, photography, and mixed media art. Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet some of the artists on December 1st and January 12th during a series of Artists Talks offered as a part of the exhibit, during which they will be able to ask artists about their work and discuss their techniques and inspiration. The show promises to be an impressive display of some of Florida’s best artworks produced by women. Dr. Ron Yrabedra, Professor Emeritus at Florida A&M University and one of the jurors for this year’s art show feels that the art displayed at the Florida Museum for Women Artists represents the variety of skills, techniques, and inspiration to be found among female artists in Florida. He states “The diversity of pieces show that women have come into their own in the world of art … expressing an unlimited vision of their own existence.”
            Professor Lemeh says that she feels honored to be able to participate in this exhibition. “I want to continue to connect with the art community here in Florida,” she states. “I believe that my paintings are my ambassadors. My artworks are one of several ways in which I am able to connect to the art world here and abroad.”
            In the production of her artwork, Professor Lemeh enjoys innovation and using a variety of techniques to create her pieces. “As an artist everything is fair game in the production of the art piece. That said, I love photography, printmaking, papermaking, sculpting and painting. Painting has always been first for me—I enjoy the act of painting. I have since I was a little girl.” Professor Lemeh’s passion for her art has inspired her teaching, and has changed the way in which she thinks about the impact of artwork. She gives a touching example of a time in which she came to realize exactly how powerful her art could be. “Years ago when I traveled to China I gave one of the conference attendees one of my cards that included an image of my painting ‘Between 2 Beating Hearts.’ After I handed it to her, she looked at it for a moment and then burst into tears. Yes, I was startled by her outburst to say the least, but I kept my composure, and sat quietly beside her until she felt calmer. Her next words did catch me a bit off guard when she said, ‘You know you really should warn a person before you show them something so beautiful.’ Her tears once again started to fall and after a moment or so she dried her face, said goodbye, and then turned to go. I understood then, as I do now, why it is important for me to participate in exhibitions in all sorts of communities—be they here or abroad. To touch one life for me is to touch many.”

Going Out With a Song and a Dance: Honors College Students Prepare for End-of-Semester Performances

November 16th, 2012 (Jupiter, FL)—The end of the fall semester is always a busy time at the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College.  It’s when students and faculty prepare for final presentations and exams, and students make arrangements to return home for the winter recess. For some Wilkes Honors College Students, however, the end of the semester also signals the beginning of end-of-the-semester artistic performances. The 13th Annual Housing Talent show and the Musically Inclined Club’s Winter Concert both take place, offering students with a wide variety of performance skills the chance to take the stage and showcase their talents to the Honors College Community.
            The Annual Housing Talent show features more than twenty performances by individual students and groups, who come ready to display their various artistic talents. In the past, performances have included singing, dance, drama, spoken word, stand-up comedy, and musical performances using a wide array of instruments and techniques. As always, the students this year have put much time and effort into preparing their acts. Every act was first required to pass through an audition process before it was accepted to be shown at the Talent Show. The Jupiter Campus Housing Staff has worked hard to acquire community sponsors for this years’ show, and the top five performers will be awarded prizes ranging from gift certificates from Jumby Bay, Tropical Smoothie, and JJ Mugs to a fully-paid overnight stay in a hotel suite in West Palm Beach. However, most students would agree that the competition is only a small part of why the Annual Housing Talent Show is so important. Honors College Senior Elizabeth Johnson will be performing in the talent show for the second time, and states that for her, the show is all about appreciating her peers. “I’m participating in the talent show this year for a few reasons,” says Johnson. “First of all, I love collaborating with my friend on musical endeavors, but more than that I feel like this is a great opportunity to appreciate my classmates’ non-academic talents. In such an academically-driven environment, it’s important to remember how multifaceted we all are.”
            The Musically Inclined Club Winter Concert is a showcase of what this singing group has been working on since the start of the fall semester. Comprised of twelve students ranging from undergraduate freshmen to beginning graduate students, the group’s talent is as diverse as its age group. The club meets twice a week for two hours to learn songs, work on their sound and blend, and discuss future plans and expectations. For their upcoming concert, MIC has prepared 13 pieces, including 7 holiday and non-holiday group pieces and 6 solos and duets. Honors College senior Gina Brockway, the President of MIC and an avid performer herself, is excited to see the club’s hard work come to fruition. “MIC’s hope for this concert is to bring out a good proportion of the Jupiter Campus’s students and staff to enjoy the music the group has worked so hard to prepare and relax before the final crunch of the semester,” states Brockway excitedly.

Byline: Megan Geiger, student intern.

Publish and Prosper: Advice on the Publication Process for Undergraduate Research

October 1st, 2012 (Jupiter, FL)—Dr. Carmen Cañete-Quesada, an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, is one of those exceptional professors who excels at teaching, research, and service as a mentor to others. This semester, she guided two of her undergraduate students through the rigorous process of publishing their research in Florida Atlantic University Undergraduate Research Journal. Dr. Cañete-Quesada graciously agreed to answer some questions for friends of the Honors College about the publication process and the work her students accomplished, giving readers an insider’s view into undergraduate publication and undergraduate mentoring.

Q. How did you learn about FAU's Undergraduate Research Journal?
A. I received this information by email, and I forwarded it to the students who had expressed interest in having their works published. Two of these students were Michelle Strasberg and Natasha Farouk. Then I contacted the student editor of the journal, Alena Rodríguez, and she liked the idea of including essays in Spanish.  So everything seemed to fit perfectly from the beginning.  Alena’s flexibility with deadlines and her prompt responses to questions and concerns helped us immensely in the process of editing the essays in a bilingual format.

Q. Besides their interest in publishing, what led you to ask these particular students to submit materials to the Undergraduate Research Journal?
A. Natasha had just completed an advanced course, Literature of Spanish Exiles in the Hispanic Caribbean, which I taught on FAU’s Boca Raton campus in the Spring 2012. She graduated with a B.A. in Linguistics and Spanish this summer and is applying to complete a master’s degree, so she thought that already having a publication would be an asset. Michelle came to my office to “chat” in Spanish, as she usually does. She is originally from Argentina and her writing skills in Spanish are impressive for an undergraduate student, so I encouraged her to pursue a minor in Spanish after taking Introduction to Literature in the Spring 2010. One of her visits coincided with the announcement of the inauguration of the journal, so I invited her to think about polishing an essay that she completed for the course Honors Pre-Columbian and Colonial Literature, which I taught in the Spring 2011.

Q. Please briefly explain the topics that the students chose to research. Was this research originally intended for a class assignment?

A. Michelle’s essay analyzes two antislavery texts respectively written by an Afro-Cuban domestic slave named Juan Francisco Manzano and an upper-class Cuban woman of Spanish descent, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda. Both texts, which were produced during the 1840s, question the Spanish authority and propose new alternatives to a brutal slavery system. The essay observes that both authors adopt similar counter-arguments to dismantle a hierarchical and oppressive imperialist society. Michelle was also struck by the feminist discourse generated by Avellaneda, and the way she incorporates women as part of this marginal group in a society that was mainly ruled and controlled by white men. Michelle’s title for her essay is “The Antislavery Discourse in the Autobiography (1840) of Juan Francisco Manzano (1797-1853), and the Novel Sab (1841) by Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814-73).”
Natasha’s essay, on the other hand, does not analyze a particular literary text; her research is much more historical and political than literary. She analyzes the cases of the more than 3,000 Spanish children from the Republican side who were evacuated to Russia during the Spanish Civil War. Her essay includes not only a wide range of bibliography related to the topic but also some more recent written and oral testimonies of these “niños de Rusia” [“the children of Russia”] who escaped from the war in Spain, and then were able to survive World War II in very poor conditions and live in a harsh communist regime with Stalin. Natasha contemplates what would have happened if these children had remained in Spain during Francisco Franco’s right-wing dictatorship, and what were the main challenges that these children faced while they tried to adjust to a divergent culture in the host land. The title of Natasha’s essay is “The Exiled Children of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) in Stalinist Russia.”

Q. In what ways were you instrumental in the publication process for these students? How often did you meet with them to mentor them through the publication process, and what did that mentoring consist of?
A. I admit I am a very meticulous professor when it comes to writing, and both Michelle and Natasha did a great job in responding to these demands.  The first drafts were completely full of questions and corrections, but they accepted my comments and made a great effort in attending to all the explanations I requested from them. It was a rigorous process which lasted the entire month of May until they got better results.

Q. What has been the most fulfilling aspect of working with these students?

A. To see my students engaged in this project and motivated enough to invest their summertime in a research project that did not count for credit toward their graduation.

Q. Why do you feel that it is important for undergraduate students to seek out publication opportunities?
A. A significant number of Honors College students in the humanities and the social sciences decide to continue their education in graduate programs related to their area of expertise. The fact that these students have been exposed to this quality of research will help them tremendously to adjust to graduate school. Students also cultivate research and critical thinking skills and, in the process, they develop a sense of responsibility, perseverance and determination for any project that they will accomplish in the future.  To mention a more practical reason, an undergraduate whose curriculum vitae includes one or more publications in an academic journal will distinguish himself or herself from other desirable candidates regardless the kind of job that they are applying for.  The interviewers will see in this candidate a potential employee with other intellectual ambitions beyond her professional career. 

Q. What other research projects have you been mentoring since you joined the Honors College? 
A. An essay that my former student Tara Boulos and I co-authored entitled “Masculinidad e hibridez cultural en Yúnior, Óscar, y otros tígueres dominicanos de Junot Díaz”has been accepted by the JCLA (Journal of the College Language Association Journal), a top leading journal related to the studies of the African diaspora in the Americas.  Last year Tara published, in Spanish, a book review of Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz’s novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) in the AHR (Afro-Hispanic Review), another professional literary journal sponsored by Vanderbilt University.  Erin Coletti is following in Tara’s footsteps and currently preparing a book review on Dedé Mirabal’s Vivas en su jardín (2009), an account of the assassination of the Mirabal sisters during Trujillo’s regime, which will likely be the topic of her thesis. This summer Stephanie López submitted for publication a beautifully written essay entitled “El Facundo de ayer y de hoy:  un análisis orientalista del caudillismo argentino,” which consists of an analytical approach of an Argentinian caudillo named Juan Facundo Quiroga (1788-1835) using Edward Said’s study Orientalism as a theoretical frame.

Q. What advice would you give to other faculty members who may wish to mentor students on how to publish their original research?

A. I don’t really have any advice for my colleagues; rather, I think I have a lot to learn from them.  The Wilkes Honors College has an established tradition of sponsoring, mentoring, and supporting undergraduate research in various ways.  For instance, the Honors College has long had an Undergraduate Research Symposium where students have the opportunity to present their projects to a small audience at the end of the academic year. The quality and the variety of the presentations are really impressive for a small liberal arts college like this one.
Dr. Cañete-Quesada’s work with undergraduate publications has offered her students the opportunity to enter into professional academic discussions while still completing their undergraduate careers. She is one example of the many faculty members at the Honors College who devote their time, effort, and resources to ensure the success of their students, not only in their undergraduate classes, but throughout their academic careers.

byline: WHC Student Intern Megan Geiger

On the Verge of Discovery: Honors College Faculty Member Publishes Groundbreaking Biological Research

September 10th, 2012 (Jupiter, FL)—At Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, faculty members dedicate most of their time to teaching, advising, and serving as mentors to students. However, professors are also actively involved in their own research, much of which becomes published in academic journals and presented at conferences around the world. For Dr. Nicholas Quintyne, Assistant Professor of Biology at the Wilkes Honors College, the recent publication of his research is exciting but, as he explains, there is still much more work to be done.
            Dr. Quintyne’s article “Dynactin’s Pointed End Complex is a Cargo-Targeting Module” has been published in the August edition of the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell. This article, co-written by Dr. Quintyne, Dr. Trina Schroer of Johns Hopkins University, and several other researchers from Dr. Schroer's laboratory, describes recent findings related to the protein dynactin. Although biologists discovered this protein about twenty-two years ago, many researchers are pouring their time and resources into studying it in the hopes that their discoveries will lead to breakthroughs in the field of molecular biology and help fight a number of diseases. But first, researchers have to know exactly how this protein works.
            Dynactin, states Dr. Quintyne, serves as an activator for the protein dynein. Dynein is responsible for the transport of molecular cargoes within human and animal cells. “I like to think of it like a railroad,” Dr. Quintyne says. Cargoes, he explains, must be transferred throughout the cells via microtubules, which serve as a transport structure similar to the idea of train tracks. Yet cargoes cannot be moved along these “tracks” by themselves; an engine is necessary for their transport. Dynein, one of these molecular motors, serves that purpose, transporting cargoes between cellular bodies via microtubule “tracks.” Dynein is unable to pick up those cargoes on its own, however; for that, dynactin is needed to bind to the cargoes individually and to facilitate the transfer of those cargoes to the microtubules. In the microscopic world of molecular biology, dynactin is a huge protein, consisting of many different parts. Dr. Quintyne’s research has been to find out exactly what each of those parts is capable of.
            Dr. Quintyne’s work with dynactin began in 1996. His graduate thesis was advised by Dr. Trina Schroer at Johns Hopkins, who actually was the first to discover dynactin. During his graduate studies, Dr. Quintyne’s research on the protein led him to discover that dynactin acts as a microtubule anchor, a fact that was previously unknown. He describes the experience as a kind of epiphany. “I was sitting in the lab, looking down the microscope, and I had the realization that I was seeing something that no one else had ever seen before; that I knew something no one else knew.” Since then, he has consistently returned to the study of dynactin, and in collaboration with scientists across the nation, is slowly discovering how this molecule functions.
            This recent publication describes how certain components of the dynactin molecule are able to target and bind to specific types of cargoes. Researchers have also found that dynactin is capable of altering its function completely depending on what stage of mitosis the cell is in at a specific time. “We’re figuring out what this protein does,” says Dr. Quintyne, “But we still don’t know how it does it.” He hopes that his research will lead to more discoveries about the molecule and will perhaps contribute to the growing body of research on dynactin’s role in the development of certain diseases. “Motors like dynein have been implicated in the development of certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and even HIV,” states Dr. Quintyne. The more scientists learn about how dynein and dynactin function, the closer they may be to discovering a way to prevent these diseases from developing.
            Dr. Quintyne’s understanding of dynactin has evolved over a period of many years. By sharing his work with other researchers in the field and by discussing the molecule with his peers, he has had to rethink and occasionally even discard ideas he held about dynactin’s function. For him, however, this process is exhilarating. “Throwing out a hypothesis is exciting to me, because that means I’m closer to discovering something new,” exclaims Dr. Quintyne. His enthusiasm on the subject is contagious, and many of his Honors College students are currently engaged in research projects related to dynactin. Even after twenty-two years of study on this protein, Dr. Quintyne insists that there is still so much more to be known about it, and with the help from researchers and students across the country, he is determined to discover as much as he can.

byline: WHC Student Intern Megan Geiger

Last Modified 11/21/13