Continue or Start Your Honors Learning at the KU Edwards Campus

The KUEC Honors Program offers ways to help you optimize your education. Through immersive projects, presentations, and research work, Cara Broel and Kaitlyn Sy have achieved that and more.

Two KU Edwards, Kaitlyn Sy and Cara Broel, pose in the lobby of KUEC.

When Cara Broel and Kaitlyn Sy complete their KU undergraduate degrees, they will be well-prepared for their next professional and educational journeys. 

Both credit the KU Edwards Campus Honors Program for providing multiple opportunities to accelerate their learning by doing graduate-level project work as undergraduate students.

Kaitlyn Sy sought to add to an already robust college resume.

Sy transferred her honors credits from Johnson County Community College (JCCC), and continued on into the KUEC Honors Program. The senior biotechnology major wanted more lab and research experience, and to dive deeper into disease research — cancer, specifically. 

“The honors program at KU has been the ladder to help me access and gain more competitive experiences and add more heft to my educational credentials as I go on to study medicine,” she said. Sy started doing honors contracts in two of her courses — immunology and applied separation science and quantitative analysis. 

How honors projects and experiences work.

Honors contracts are agreements entered into between students and their instructors to complete self-directed projects within the semester or half-semester to earn honors credit. 

Honors students gain expanded perspectives when they extend learning beyond boundaries, stretch into new spaces, and apply what they’ve learned. To graduate with honors, students complete four distinct (ELEs) from eight possible categories. 

  • Aesthetic Engagement
  • Cultural Literacy & Social Justice
  • Global Citizenship
  • Interdisciplinary & Breadth of Learning
  • Leadership
  • Professional Development & Social Entrepreneurship
  • Public Service Enhancement
  • Research Skills and In-Depth Learning

These descriptions are not exhaustive, and some valuable learning experiences may not fit neatly into the categories listed. Students are welcome to propose alternative experiences for review and approval by University Honors Program staff and faculty through the ELE Inquiry Form.

Sy presented her research findings in front of neuro-oncology specialists.

“I got to work one-on-one with these faculty members who knew a lot about lab techniques,” Sy said. “I got to polish my lab skills, which was much needed, in my opinion.” Her various research projects have placed her in front of industry professionals and neuro-oncology specialists, presenting her findings, and having them published in a neuro-oncology journal. 

As Sy’s undergraduate education journey ends when she graduates next month, she will head to medical school confident she has the tools to succeed. The natural progression for Sy would be research, but she wants to focus on patient care. 

Honors projects have helped Cara Broel nurture her love for English and literature.

When Broel started classes in 2021 at KUEC, she was determined to succeed at completing her undergraduate degree. “This time around, everything fell into place for me to be able to attend college full-time and fully focus on my coursework,” Broel said. 

She earned a 4.0 grade point average in her first semester at KU. “When I came to KU, I changed my major to literature, language, and writing, which is an English major, and I am glad I made the switch,” she continued. Broel describes the major as a mix of literature appreciation, creative writing, and language studies.

Broel learned about the honors program from her academic advisor, Ben Herron. “He encouraged me to apply for admission,” she said. The advisor felt that as a nontraditional student, she had a breadth of knowledge and experience that a lot of younger students don’t have. 

 Broel says the ELEs have been substantive and effective for her. 

For one project she developed under the Global Citizenship ELE, Broel created a learning guide for educators to teach young children about environmental justice in fun and engaging ways. To assess how effective the materials were, she engaged a group of educators to evaluate the learning guide, and present the material to their students. Broel included their feedback as part of the project. 

Her current project under the Cultural Literacy & Social Justice ELE involves a further exploration of a paper she wrote on gender and race representation in media. 

Broel expects to complete her undergraduate degree in two more semesters. “I am earning English department honors credits at the same time, and am staying an extra semester to complete the coursework.”

After graduation, she plans to explore a career in publishing or as a children’s librarian.

You may be the next KUEC Honors Program student!

If you are an academically exceptional student, the KUEC Honors Program will give you the intellectual challenge you need, prepare you for professional success, and recognize the great work you have accomplished.

Whether you are transferring from a community college honors program, or just getting started, KU provides a unique and supportive community to help you succeed.

As an honors program student, you will be exposed to:

  • Intellectually challenging courses
  • Hands-on or enhanced learning experiences
  • Study abroad opportunities
  • The chance to work one-on-one with faculty
  • Access to competitive awards and scholarships
  • Early enrollment each semester

To learn more about the KUEC Honors Program qualifications, talk to your academic advisor, or contact:

Ashley Kalatusha
Student Services Specialist, KU Edwards Campus

This blog was authored by Jeanene Dunn.

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