University Honors Program—Gabriela Rodriguez
Gabriela Rodriguez was one of the 228 Florida State University 2020 graduates who finished their college career with the distinction of earning a University Honors Program medallion. More information about the requirements for completing the University Honors Program can be found here.
Read on for more about Rodriguez and her achievement.
English, Editing, writing, and media, with a double minor in general business and communication
What was the inspiration behind you pursuing the Honors Program designation?
Throughout high school, I took the most advanced coursework possible, from honors and Advanced Placement to being dual enrolled at my local community college. I love to challenge myself when it comes to my education and being an honors student has always been a part of this plan. When it came time to apply for college, I knew I wanted to continue on that path and enroll in honors-level coursework at FSU. After doing some research, I discovered the University Honors Program, a community of like-minded students who want to challenge themselves and get the most out of their education. I knew I would fit in very well in that program, and sure enough, it was an amazing experience!
What activities did you complete to meet the requirements for the designation?
Each honors student must earn a minimum of 18 honors points in order to graduate with the Honors Medallion. These points can be earned in many different ways, such as coursework, community service, research, and more. Of your 18 points, at least 13 must be earned by taking honors-level courses which all count toward your degree and can be required for your major. I personally earned my remaining points through community service and undergraduate research. Completing the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) at FSU is a great way to earn a point. You can also earn a point by becoming a UROP leader and/or presenting at the Research Symposium. Finally, I earned points by completing the Garnet and Gold Scholar Society (GGSS) Program. Other ways to earn points include being a Freshman Interest Group (FIG) Leader or an Honors Colloquium Leader. There are numerous ways to complete your 18 points, and if you plan ahead and do a few each semester, they go by much quicker than you might think!
Did you work with a faculty advisor during the time you were working on the Honors designation or was this something you did on your own?
I personally did not work closely with an advisor to complete my points, but if you are struggling to figure out how to complete the program, the faculty is extremely helpful. When I was in my first year at FSU, I definitely took advantage of the advising opportunities offered by the honors program when I was trying to plan out my next three years. As a Degree in Three student [a separate university program designed to assist students who wish to graduate in three or fewer years], I was initially overwhelmed when trying to figure out how I would be able to accomplish all of my goals in just three years. My honors advisors were extremely kind and helpful along the way.
Did you have to find ways to stay on top of the requirements or was it pretty easy to follow through?
I have always been very independent and organized, so I found it quite easy to navigate the honors requirements on my own. All honors students are required to take an Honors Colloquium course their first semester, which prepared me very well for what I would need to do to receive my medallion. I chose to manage my points without advising, it was essential that I mapped my experience out well in advance. I familiarized myself with the requirements and created a plan for what I would do each semester to achieve my points. This plan included which year I would participate in UROP, when I would complete my community service, and how many honors classes I would take each semester.
What did you enjoy most about working on the Honors requirement?
Participating in the University Honors Program opened my eyes to so many amazing opportunities at FSU that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. I discovered both UROP and GGSS through this program. I also met so many amazing faculty members and formed connections with likeminded students. Overall, it was definitely a great experience that I would recommend to anyone!
Did you have any downsides or struggles you would like to discuss?
The only struggle I faced occurred because I completed my degree in three years. Balancing so much in just three years—honors coursework, undergraduate research, working at Her Campus, studying abroad, and internships—required a lot of planning and organization on my part. However, the hard work absolutely paid off and the experience was very rewarding for me.
What advice would you give to any English students who want to earn this honor?
My advice would be to just dive right in. If you’re even considering the Honors Program, apply. Completing this honor absolutely transformed my college experience by introducing me to programs, opportunities, and people who I will remember forever. Just be sure that you stay on top of your responsibilities with the program, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The Honors Program has an incredible team of advisors and professors that would all be more than happy to guide you through the process!
What plans do you have post-graduation?
I will be moving to Chicago in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University. As of now, my program is scheduled to start on time and in person, so my plans haven’t been affected by the pandemic yet. However, nothing is confirmed, so my fingers are still crossed!
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