Drury Honors Students Reach Further

For Drury student Sarah Buxton, it began as a simple mission to help a friend. Using skills and knowledge she gained in her Drury classes, Buxton helped a local business owner establish online and social media presences for his fledgling pressure washing service, and even created an original website to promote the business. 

Sarah BuxtonBuxton is a senior in Drury University’s Honors Program, and she undertook the project in part to fulfill the requirements for her Senior Colloquium and Honors Research project. As part of the honors curriculum, all students complete an extensive honors project that tackles a carefully defined challenge or question in their field of study. Students take the lead on designing their own projects, which can range from academic research, to a scientific experiment, to a creative effort such as writing a novel or creating an art exhibit.

“I never would have had the confidence to create a website, nor the technical knowledge necessary, had I not attended Drury,” says Buxton, who transferred into Drury’s Honors Program after two years at another school.

However, while working on this project, Buxton discovered another need with even wider implications than the reach of the website she designed. 

“This project helped open my eyes to the severe stigma our culture has against blue collar work, especially in the world of academia,” Buxton explains. “Therefore, my research part of the project, which will be conducted next semester, will be aimed at demonstrating the importance of the workforce and how small businesses in the blue collar category are the backbone of our economy.”

Now, what began as a project to help one business owner is expanding to an effort to overcome a cultural perception of blue collar work and encourage more young people to take up practical, hands-on trades.

A community of excellence

In addition to a senior project, honors students complete 27 credit hours of honors courses that ask them to engage in practical learning experiences such as student-led curricula, service learning, problem-based learning, and primary source instruction. At the same time, students maintain at least a 3.75 grade point average and present or publish original research in conferences, journals, and other academic forums.

However, Drury’s Honors Program is more than just a checklist of challenges leading to a few extra words on a diploma. 

“At first the Honors Program was just a set of academic requirements to me, something that gets you another tassel or stole at graduation,” says senior Kris Rose. But Rose has found that the real benefit of the Drury Honors Program comes from the relationships he has built within the program.

“It is kind of nice to be around people that have the same priorities as you do and value the same things that you value, in an academic sense,” Rose says. He hopes that future honors students will recognize the value of the program not only as an academic standard, but as a culture where students can support each other as they strive towards excellence.

Honors student Meagan Carmack is an example of this kind culture alive at Drury right now. As the Peer-mentoring Chair for the Honors Student Association, Carmack worked to help new students develop their skills in research and writing.

Meagan Carmack“I also wrote and presented a research series,” Carmack says. “Kind of an intro to research for high schoolers coming in who don’t really know what’s the difference between a scholarly source and not, or how to start the research process, what is a good research question, etc.”

Additionally, Drury honors students can cultivate close relationships by participating in Honors Student Association dinners and trips, and even living with other honors students in the honors living learning community in Sunderland Hall or in the campus Honors House.

“It hasn’t just helped personal relationships,” Rose adds. “It’s building professional relationships and working in an academic setting with professors, and really good professors. So that’s been a huge boon.”

Drury honors students go on to graduate schools, businesses, and artistic field across the country. Those interested in applying for the program can learn more at the Honors Program webpage. The best candidates are those students who exhibit curiosity, ambition, motivation, and dedication to intellectual inquiry and engagement.