Honors students do amazing things.

Read their stories here.

Carter Bowman ('21)-Political Science

Graduating as the valedictorian of JMU, Carter majored in Political Science and minored in Chinese foreign language. Carter was on the speech and debate team and served as a political science research assistant. In the fall of 2019, Carter participated in JMU's Washington Semester Program as a full-time intern with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy while remaining a full-time student. In the spring of 2020, he studied as a foreign exchange student at Oxford University, where he had a paper published comparing AI proliferation to nuclear arms proliferation. Carter’s Honors College Thesis, which identifies predictors of national cyber power advancement, won the best Political Science thesis award. Carter was also inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and named the outstanding student for the Department of Political Science and the College of Arts and Letters. Starting this fall, Carter will begin a J.D. program at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Read Carter's Story.

Emily Thompson ('21)-Biology

Emily Thompson is a Biology major from Newark, Delaware. She has a concentration in Ecology and Environmental Biology and minors in Environmental Science, Mathematics, and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies. She is one of three valedictorians for the Class of 2021. During her time at JMU, Emily conducted research for her Honors Capstone Project, served as a Resident Advisor, and joined the Biological Honors Fraternity Beta Beta Beta. She is also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. She has completed research in Manitoba, Canada and studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Emily plans to explore careers in ecology and environmental science before considering graduate school. 

Read Emily's Story.

Darby Henn ('23)-Elementary Education

When Darby, a sophomore Elementary Education major, first stepped onto JMU’s campus, she instantly fell in love. She felt the “genuine care that people had for one another.” Now, as a member of Student Ambassadors and a First Year Orientation Guide, Darby works to help incoming students find their place at JMU. Darby is working on a project focusing on the "idea of multicultural literature and how we can create and incoroprate literature in the classroom. Every student should feel valued and seen in the classroom." 

Read Darby's Story.

Belinda Addae ('21)-Intelligence Analysis

Every Honors Student creates a unique and personal path for themselves within the Honors College, and Belinda Addae is no exception. Bilingual in Twi and English, the Senior Intelligence Analysis Major with a minor in Political Science and Honors on a Pre-Law track has dedicated herself to the goal of being an immigration lawyer.

Read Belinda's Story.

Deaquan Nichols ('24)-Biophysical Chemistry

Deaquan, a biophysical chemistry major from Roanoke, VA originally committed to Princeton as a junior in high school. Deaquan never gave serious consideration to JMU until he participated in the SHI (Summer Honors Institute). However, “every day on campus, I felt like I belonged and as a minority student that is hard to find,” he recalls. Through this weeklong program where he attended classes and met Honors faculty members, the SHI cemented Deaquan’s desire to attend JMU.

Read Deaquan's Story.
Corinne Martin ('23) - Independent Scholars and English

Corinne Martin, a sophomore English and Independent Scholars double major says “I grew up loving to read, loving to write. I’ve always had a deep appreciation for storytelling and its impact on how we see the world.” Her love for storytelling continues to have a major impact on her life and perception of the world. As she creates her Independent Scholars major−Native American History, Culture, and Narratives−she aims to give ownership back to Native stories. 

Read Corinne's Story
Steven Davic ('22) - Anthropology, Psychology, Intelligence Analysis

"Learning everyday." Steven Davic is a former Marine Corps sargeant whose research program focuses on developing techniques and tools to help Marines better manage stress. He is majoring in Anthropology, Psychology, and Intelligence Analysis. He is a recipient of the Honors Hinshaw-Warren Hillcrest Scholarship and a finalist for the prestigious Truman Scholarship.

Read Steven's Story

Kearney Quillen ('22) - Sociology, Independent Scholars

“There are so many things that I want to learn.” Kearney Quillen is double majoring in Sociology and Independent Scholars, majors that allow her to explore a range of disciplinary approaches and topical areas. She is interested in how small communities and movements affect mainstream culture and eventually result in big culture changes. Kearney studied at Oxford University in spring 2020.

Read Kearney's Story

Makeda Fikremariam ('21) - International Affairs

Makeda Fikremariam is a senior International Affairs major with minors in Philosophy and Honors. Her Honors thesis, which she finished in December 2020, is a case study analysis of Ethiopia as a potential rising power in East Africa. 

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Makeda’s family moved to Northern Virginia when she was young.

Read Makeda's Story

Kristin Connors ('20) - Independent Scholars

Kristen Connors is from Plymouth, Massachusetts, site of the first Mayflower Pilgrim colony. She went to a small Charter school with a graduating class of 41. "I live in a beautiful town overflowing with a proud history," she says, "and I loved getting involved with the town, whether it be serving with Meals on Wheels or interning for the district Senator." Going to a university with over 20,000 students represented a big change.

Read Kristin's Story

Kristen Connors
Elizabeth Brannon ('17) - International Affairs

“At JMU I’m an International Affairs major. I love traveling and meeting people who think about the world in different ways. Initially I had this idea that if I left the country I’d be a deeper person politically and culturally. And I suppose that’s true. But it turns out there’s so much abstract and theoretical knowledge that can be mastered too. I had no idea, but there’s a significant amount of math and statistics behind it too.”

Read Lizzie's Story

Elizabeth Brannon
Mary Margaret Hawkins ('18) - Spanish & Foreign Language Education

"Because of my interest in education and my background in teaching Spanish, this practicum was absolutely perfect for me. I got to speak Spanish the whole week. I had never been in an immersion experience before. When I got back, my JMU Spanish professor asked me if I’d been somewhere because she could tell that my Spanish had really improved."

Read Mary Margaret's Interview

Mary Margaret Hawkins
Matthew Gurniak ('16) - Theatre & Chemistry

Honors student Matthew Gurniak came to JMU with a passion for chemistry and theater. "I knew I wanted to double major, and I liked the flexibility I would have at JMU. And I was attracted to Madison's program because it was competitive and audition-based," he says.

When it came time to choose a subject for his Honors thesis, Matthew Gurniak combined his passion for chemistry and theater and created "Bonded: The Musical."

Read Matt's Story

Matthew Gurniak
Maria Camila Restrepo Chavez ('17) - Psychology

Maria Camila says that she “just had that feeling” that she belonged at JMU. It was a beacon for access and opportunity. “I pictured myself as a college student here. Everyone was friendly, smiling, and happy. And it wasn’t too far from home. Harrisonburg is so completely different from Ashburn. I found out that people exist at JMU that are like me.” Harrisonburg, she says, is a very diverse community, one where she can easily pick up ingredients that her grandmother can cook with on university breaks.

Read Maria Camila's Story

Maria Restrepo C havez

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