Curiosity Even When the Snow Falls! Why the Retreat, and Why Honors?

By Director Kathy Cooke

The weekend before classes began brought snow, but it wasn’t enough to keep honors students down when it comes to their annual retreat.  We went to Camp Hazen in Chester, Connecticut, and settled in on Friday with a roaring fire, community-building games, food, and homemade ice cream.

And on Saturday we woke up to the early stages of a lovely winter storm–as well as an activity-filled day of team-building and personal challenges, not the least of which was the giant swing and climbing tower.

Did I mention that the giant swing and the climbing tower are outside? And that it was January in Connecticut?  And let’s not forget that it was snowing.  Nevertheless, in this amazing group of students and faculty, everyone participated in one way or another–from climbing to swinging, and from back-up belaying to handing out hot chocolate.

On Sunday we spent the morning thinking about how one cultivates the openness and awareness that is essential to intellectual curiosity and academic leadership by using tools that help us notice our own thoughts and reactions to what we hear, see, and experience.  That foundation allowed us to consider how we can pursue our goals of intellectual curiosity and academic leadership as we re-join the larger community at Quinnipiac University, and enjoy our interdisciplinary commitment to Be Here! and Greater New Haven.

As the bus rolled up to take us back to our QU home, we all had learned more about why we joined honors, why we are still in honors, and how we can best be present in our ongoing experience.  Here’s what a few students had to say:

“I was always an honors student throughout school… [but before coming to Quinnipiac I didn’t realize that the University Honors Program is] more like a group, a huge family, an opportunity for development and learning.  I love what honors means and I’m thankful that it is much more involved than I ever expected it to be.  If I was not in honors, I would not have the best friends I have now and the opportunities to develop as an individual.”

“I’m in honors because I want to surround myself with people who are open to intellectually stimulating activities and conversations.  I came to college to learn not only from my professors but also my peers and in the past I have gotten frustrated not being able to express my intellectual curiosity.  I need a challenging environment to learn, not one that oppresses open dialogue.”

“To be around people who will accept my interest in learning, rather than diminish it.”

“I joined honors to explore the interests I had that weren’t widely accepted by others.  It gives me freedom in my learning.”

“Past Motivation:  To be able to say I graduated with ‘honors.’  Present:  The community.  I love having a group of people to have intellectual conversations with.  I know I can go up to anyone in the group and have a discussion without being judged.”

“I’m in honors because I come from a really small school that had a close-knit community and also wanted to find that here.  Now that I’m older I stay in honors because of all the great people I met and fun events we plan 🙂 . Also, I enjoy deep discussions.”

“I’m in honors because I’ve always been an “unconventional” thinker and honors gave me a group of like-minded people who continually challenge me while also accepting me… I couldn’t imagine QU without it.”

“I want to be among peers who value education and intellectualism as much as I do, because I believe that changing the world for the better begins with education.”

Intellectual curiosity.
Academic leadership.

The University Honors Program at Quinnipiac.

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