Comments of Current Students in the Honors Class
About the Honors 151 Class @ QCC
The most obvious advantage of the Honors 151 class is that the class is smaller than regular classes. This allows more discussions, interaction among the students as well as closer contact with the professor. It is a very intense class but it provides the advantage of working with highly qualified and motivated students and encourages one to be actively studying in order to keep up with assignments and quizzes, tests and exams as well as the performance of other colleagues. My Math background has been enhanced by this course and it is helping me to prepare for the Math Honors program. I am happy to have had the opportunity to be in the Honors 151 class. There are many advantages of taking this class and I believe that employers, graduate schools and professional schools would value honors work quite highly and I would definitely recommend other students to take this class.
A Summer Internship at the Division of Environmental Protection (D.E.P)
I first joined the Honors program at Queensborough last Spring and registered for Honors General Chemistry I. Through this experience I was able to be named for an ATE Internship at the D.E.P. (Department of Environmental Protection) for the summer of 2009. The work was done at the Owl’s Head Lab for the Waste Water Treatment facility. This has been so far, one of the most rewarding experiences. I had the privilege to work inside a chemistry lab where I have performed various chemistry related tasks, such as measuring the pH and the chloride concentrations of water. I also prepared samples and performed argentometric titrimetric measurements.
This opportunity gave me the chance to work with other professional chemists and I have gained more knowledge about hands-on, every-day related chemistry. It also taught me how our waste water is processed and the different experiments involved before it can be available to the public. I know now and I feel safe that the water quality in New York City is of primary quality.
Taking Honors Chemistry Classes at Queensborough:
An Acquaintance with the Research Work of a Nobel Laureate
As this semester comes to an end so does my final semester in Honors General Chemistry. Throughout the past months I have come to realize that taking part of science honors courses has had a major effect on both my academic and social life. The purpose of science is to stimulate knowledge and to learn about new and interesting topic in our everyday life. As an honors student some of the things that I like the most are: the one-on-one interaction with the professors, the small classes where I get to interact with my classmates and my professors and being given the opportunity to solve problems on the board etc. In addition the thing that I like the most is the dedication of the professors, who sees my potential and my passion for success and who give me advice that will be beneficial in my studies.
This semester I had the opportunity to start my research work with Dr. David Sarno who is actively involved with the synthesis of conducting polymers. This work is the related to the work of the late 2000 Nobel laureate Professor Alan MacDiarmid with whom Dr. Sarno worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. This is particularly exciting as the concept of the project is or particular significance in the real world. My findings will be presented both as a power point and a poster in at least four conferences in the next few months including the National American Chemical Society Meeting in Boston MA in August 2010.
Conducting Research on Carbon Nanotubes:
An Unusual Experience at a Community College
The Chemistry Department of Q.C.C. offers a very unique academic opportunity for individuals to take the knowledge gained within the classroom and to apply into a practical setting of a laboratory. Gaining research experience as an undergraduate student is a privilege for many, especially when working under the mentorship of prolific and dedicated professors. This past semester, I had the privilege of starting research with Dr. Tirandai Hemraj-Benny in the research on theefficient synthesis of carbon nanotubes. Although this semester was spent more on mastering the introduction of laboratory experimental processes as well as learning how to use the various instrumentation and computer software related to the research, the overall experience has been very rewarding. I have much to look forward to the short winter semester that will be focused on conducting actual synthesis of carbon nanotubes (instead of patiently watching and assisting other students). What I appreciate about the research program at Q.C.C. is the open support and willingness of professors (or mentors) in working with undergraduate students. At other four year institutions, such privilege of working under professor’s mentorship is often guarded for graduate students. At Q.C.C., the students have the resources and the opportunity to work at a graduate student level – but it will be up to the individual students to harness this opportunity to enhance and maximize their academic experience.
Changing from a Quick Transfer to Graduation:
How the Honors Program Changed My Mind
When I first came to Queensborough Community College, I really wanted to transfer to a four-year engineering school the following semester. At that time, my motivation was dying out and all I wanted was to get out and go through some change. I thought the only way to achieve that was to transfer to four-year institution as soon as possible. At first, I talked to Dr. Paris Svoronos to register for a regular General Chemistry course just because it was a transferrable part of my pre-engineering curriculum. He looked at my records and started talking about Honors General Chemistry, conducting research under the guidance of a faculty mentor, and how those experiences can change my college life. I became excited and instantly decided to take the challenge. It turned out that I went through the change that would never go away right here in the Chemistry Department. Now I can tell you that the day was one of the major turning points in my life and every single experience I have had in the department up until now contributed to changing me to me present status.
From the first semester of Honors General Chemistry I, I started getting trained for research on the Synthesis of TTPI (3-trimethoxysilylpropyl isocyanurate) stabilized transition metal nanoclusters under the guidance of Dr. Moni Chauhan. I should mention that the experience of conducting research as an undergraduate is an exceptional opportunity and having it in a community college is almost unknown to all other institutions. Having a faculty mentor who always welcomes you when you knock on the door and cares about your personal development is a very special opportunity. I worked in a very nice newly equipped research lab which made me look and feel professional, learned to carry out reactions and to use various spectroscopic instruments to analyze the results from experiments. I was able to become an active part of an original research project, discuss the results with my mentor and learned to think analytically and scientifically. It was hard and time-consuming to prepare presentations and posters for meetings and conferences, but those were the times that I learned the most about my research.
I also have to mention that the travels to conferences and meetings with fellow students and faculty members as well as communicating with the scientific community were extraordinary experiences that made me feel very professional and enthusiastic. All these add to extra nice “records” that would make my resume stand out from the crowd too. You must believe that these are the things that I did not think I would be able to do before I met Dr. Svoronos.
I have personally presented my own research findings in six different American Chemical Society (ACS) meetings including two National Meetings in Philadelphia and Washington DC, as well as two QCC Honors Conferences. I was also featured at the official ACS periodical (Chemical and Engineering News) in a photo.
I must also talk about the classroom experience from the Honors Chemistry courses. In the classroom, I was constantly motivated and challenged with assignments and frequent tests. These requirements were not easy at all, but the rewards you get from achieving the goals and meeting expectations more than compensate for the hard work. Dr. Svoronos makes extra efforts to make his students work harder, be responsible, and stay motivated. He works passionately to offer his students chances to realize their potentials. I really needed to get rid of my lazy habits and had to force myself to work hard, and in the process I realized that I could do more than I ever thought. At the end of each challenging semester, I found myself growing confident to face even worse challenges. Becoming a part of an inner community of enthusiastic and motivated students that
A Summer Internship at the DEP: An Experience Associated with the Honors Program
I was very fortunate to have been able to participate in DEP’s paid internship over the summer of ‘09. I was not sure what to expect. I felt I did not have a strong chemistry background, so many times prior to starting; I doubted myself and wondered how I’d survive in a chemistry lab for the rest of the summer. However, I was able to meet many knowledgeable colleagues who taught me a great deal about the process control laboratory in Owl’s Head.
In this plant, we receive wastewater from two streams; Prospect Bridge and South Brooklyn. There are many treatments wastewater must go through before being released out into the open. In short, first, we have the screens which separate the big solids from the water. Next, it is passed to the primary effluent tanks and aeration tanks which keep bacteria alive. Lastly, it goes to the final tanks before it is treated with chlorine and pumped out into the waters, in my location, the New York harbor. Our processing lab receives samples from each of these stages of treatment and with these samples we test for various measures at different stations. For example, the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (B.O.D) station determines the relative oxygen requirements of wastewaters and evaluating the BOD-removal efficiency to provide for a safe marine life. At another station, we test the chlorine residual, seeing if there is too much or too little chlorine present in the water supply to disinfect and kill off any disease-causing bacteria that may be present. We also tested for pH and alkalinity levels, reporting samples that did not fall under 6.95-7.05 pH units. The engineers would then determine whatever adjustments or changes needed to be made. The toughest part was dealing with the smell of wastewater, but other than that, overall it was an excellent and enlightening experience –something I never imagined myself doing!
Overall this was a unique experience that I had thanks to the Honors Program at Queensborough.
Conducting Research on Organophosphorus Chemistry:
A Route to Identify My Potential
Albert Einstein once said that “the important thing is not to stop questioning things”. This statement has become more than just a mere quote. It has become a way of life. By working on the synthesis of organophosphorus compounds with Dr. Luis Vargas, my mind has been encouraged and stimulated to learn out of the box. This opportunity for research has taught me that science does not only consist of the experiment one does or what one learns inside a classroom, but the amount of time and heart one puts into understanding the concepts of chemistry, thus life, outside of our natural niche called school.
Throughout the years of my academic studies, I have been given numerous opportunities to do research and take higher level courses. However, many of those opportunities have been highly competitive and sometimes non-obtainable, of which distinguishes the chemistry department at Queensborough from any other academic institutions. In my opinion Queensborough’s research program allows you to feel useful and is a constant reminder that everyone has far more potential than one would assume. Doing research has taken me to a higher level of knowledge, I did not believe possible. Research along with organic chemistry has pushed me and reminded me that life is not about giving up. Life is about fighting until the end it is as the saying goes: if life gives you lemons make lemonade.
Attending the Seminars and Lectures of Scientists:
An Impact Way for Improving my Abilities
The Chemistry Honors program gives you the chance to go and listen to seminars of scientists that the department actually invites to address faculty and students. These seminars help you get more information about the field that you have no idea about. This experience could help you find out what kind of career you are interested in. During my three semester career at Queensborough I have a minimum of twelve seminars that include anything from Environmental Forensics to the Determination of the age of sushi in restaurants to the theoretical way of calculating distances and angles of molecules.
I had the opportunity to also work on theoretical chemistry research with Dr. Jordan Verdis and presented my findings at the 238th National meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington DC last August.
How the Honors Program in Chemistry Helped me get an Internship at Broohaven Labs this Past Summer
With the help of a STEM grant whose PI is Dr. Paris Svoronos, the Chair of the Chemistry Department at Queensborough, I was able to experience researching with actual research scientists at Brookhaven National Labs. This was a tremendously amazing experience. I researched with Dr. Lars Ehm on the synthesis of water splitting oxynitrides to produce hydrogen gas with the intention to use it as a clean fuel. We spent ten weeks at Brookhaven this past summer synthesizing this unique material. At the end we were able to only obtain a small sample and run only a few tests. The tests did not confirm if we made the oxynitride we intended to synthesize but it did show us that we prepared a new material. Even though there is more work to be done, I was able to put the concepts that I was taught in my Honors General Chemistry classes to aid in my research. Of course without the help of the Honors program, this experience would not have been possible nor would any of the potential doors be opened for me if I was not offered such an amazing opportunity.
Conducting PLTL Tutoring as Part of my Honors Program Participation
The honors program in the Chemistry department of Queens Borough Community College has been extremely beneficial to me. Being in the honors program drives me to excellence in all areas of my academic life. I see failure as not an option and anything below a 100 as no good. Because I am in the honors program, I was giving the opportunity to tutor.
Tutoring has been superb. Since I am striving for excellence, I try to pass my drive on to the students I tutor who really appreciate my help. In addition, being in the honors program, has allowed me to be involved with research. In this project, we are identifying heavy metals in substances using X-ray fluorescence.
These opportunities would not have been known to me unless I was involved with the Honors Program. In conclusion, I believe the honors program at Queensborough is quite beneficial and all students who seek to excel in life should apply for it.
How PLTL Tutoring Has Helped me Develop as an Honors Student
During the last two semesters I had the challenge of taking a total of 13 credits hours of Honors classes in Chemistry. I also had the pleasure of serving as a PLTL tutor for the Chemistry Department of Queensborough Community College.
When the chairman Dr. Paris Svoronos asked me to participate in the Honors Program by becoming a tutor, I must admit I was nervous and afraid that I could not do it. However, the first time I heard a student tell me that she understood a problem that I explained on the blackboard, the fear subsided.
Helping students understand chemistry, has been a rewarding experience for me for two reasons. First, there is the satisfaction of helping your peers and hearing them say their grades have improved because of your help. Having struggled myself with certain aspects of chemistry, I feel makes it even more rewarding when I can explain it to someone else and have them understand as well. Second, discussing and explaining chemistry further reinforces the ideas for myself. As I teach someone how to work something out, I am also practicing and studying at the same time.
I truly believe that the tutoring program is extremely beneficial for all students including myself. I not only tutor other students, but I take advantage of the program myself. It has and continues to be an invaluable resource for me and my fellow students. I am proud and grateful to be a part of this program and hope to be for as long as I am student at Queensborough.
Doors the Chemistry Honors Program at QCC has opened for me
My experience at the U.S Department of Energy’s Science and Energy Research Challenge (SERCh) hosted at Oakridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee is one that is both memorable and unforgettable. Being chosen as one of the few to compete in this event is something that I didn't expect but nonetheless took full advantage of. Out of a pool of applicants that participated in summer research internships in National Labs all over the country, just 95 were chosen. I happened to be one of 3 community college students chosen for this event. First of all, I have great gratitude for the Honors program because through it I was made aware of research opportunities in the department and secure the summer internship program at Brookhaven National Laboratory. I have also been able to attend various conferences including the prestigious ACS national conference, where I presented my work done with Dr. Mihaela Bojin. I was thrilled with my experience at Brookhaven National Laboratory because, I was able to incorporate everything being learnt in class into my summer research project. The concept behind the scientific method was deeply implemented into every aspect of the project and this invigorated my desire to learn more. I was a part of a Faculty and Student team (FaST) which included Dr. Seeogjoo Jang from Queens College, my mentor over the summer and Dr John Miller, who is a scientist at BNL. We worked on pulse radiolysis transient absorption spectroscopy of triplet exciton states in end-capped Polyfluorenes. This investigation was carried out to see how excitons, which are a means of transporting energy in silicon solar cells, migrate across organic polymers in an effort to increase the efficiency of organic solar cells which are much affordable in comparison to their silicon counterparts. I was glad to be chosen to present my findings from the work I did over the summer. At ORNL, I met so many people, students, professors and scientists from universities all over the country ranging from Stanford University to Columbia University. It also served as a great networking experience too. If asked to relive that experience, I would a million times over if given the opportunity to do so. I will always show appreciation for the opportunity presented to me by the Honors program at Queensborough Community College.
Getting Involved with the Chemistry Honors Program:
A reflection on the Class and the PLTL Tutoring Opportunity
The Chemistry 151 Honors class is a good opportunity for students to benefit from the close intellectual contact with faculty and fellow honors students. Being in this program helped me develop initiative in my academic goals and broaden my knowledge about a range of interesting scientific studies, through the several seminars offered to the honors students throughout the semester. As part of this program, we were expected to do a lot of extra-curricular activities compared to students in non-honors chemistry classes. It allowed me to be more responsible and adept, and these have also helped me as a tutor. In my PLTL tutoring sessions with fellow students taking general chemistry courses, I was able to use these skills to my advantage. It was very rewarding to be able to impart my own knowledge of the subject matter, and help other students as well, who are just as willing and driven to learn. Tutoring has helped me develop and strengthen my ability in being a leader. I became more confident in myself as a student as well. Overall, I am pleased that I have decided to take the honors class and I will not hesitate to take more because I know this is a good start to distinguish myself from other students.
My First Semester Experience with the Chemistry Honors Program at Queensborough
The Chemistry Honors course has been a challenging but motivating experience. There seemed to have been many more positive opportunities for me through the honors program. I was able to pair up with Dr. Jun Shin to help with ongoing research that has enriched my understanding of the subject. I was also given the opportunity to participate in tutoring peers in other related subjects. I am also scheduled to work during the winter vacation and make a presentation at upcoming chemistry conferences.
Within the course itself, Chemistry honors challenged me to excel in the subject area. The challenge turned out to be very motivating and it urged me to try harder and yield positive results. The constant testing and heavy workload has actually helped me to foster time management skills and effective studying techniques. Most importantly, the honors program has taught me the importance of being on top of things and taking control of my responsibilities as an efficient student. Overall, Chemistry honors has been a very positive and enriching experience for me.
My Summer Internship at the Division of Environmental Protection (DEP):
An Experience that is Part of the Honors Chemistry Program
I took my first honors class at Queensborough in the Chemistry Department. The introductory chemistry honors course was taught by Dr. Jun Shin. Because of my performance in this class I was asked by the chair, Dr. Paris Svoronos, to apply for a summer internship at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and was paid by an ATE grant that Dr. Svoronos was a co-PI for.
I was assigned to work at the Brooklyn, Red Hook site of the New York City DEP. The duties of the scientists working there was to clean all waste water before releasing it into the river. I was involved with the different processes as part of my work. I was asked to record the data obtained and made my observations in the computer.
Although my experience was limited I learned how to apply concepts I learned in my Honors class. I addition I realized how it is to be in the real world as an employee by knowing that I had to be on time, be serious in what I did and be able to evaluate data.
Conducting Research on Ionic Liquids: An Experience at the Freshman Level
This semester has been one of the most rewarding times of my stay here at Queensborough Community College. I have always been fascinated by the world of science so taking the first course in honors chemistry (CH-151) has been an unusual experience. The class is small (19 students) and the professor Dr. Paris Svoronos has provided with a great individualized attention and with multiple testing. I have also started conducting research under Dr. Sharon Lall-Ramnarine on the biodegradation of ionic liquids. I am still at the training stage but I am expected to work daily during the January intersession and obtain results which I will be presenting at the American Chemical Society-NY section’s Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS). This will be my first experience in giving a talk to an audience. I am a little worried but I now that my mentor will guide me to success. I am looking forward to more honors classes and I would not substitute this experience for anything else.
How the Honors Program Prevented me from Transferring to a Senior Collge
Myoung Eun (Esther) Kim
This semester is my third semester at Queensborough Community College and so far my experiences have been way beyond my expectations. The reason I came to QCC was because I needed to get started in college and QCC seemed like the perfect place to start based on the accounts of some of my friends who already transferred after graduating from our college. I just wanted the least amount of credits possible and transfer until I met Dr. Paris Svoronos, the Chair of the Chemistry Department. Not only he gave me a good learning experience in his CH-151 Honors class but he also opened up many doors for me as well. These experiences include my summer internship with the DEP where I spent ten weeks analyzing water samples with pay. I was also given the chance to tutor my fellow college students in QCC in the course I just finished this past semester. Finally I was asked to conduct classes and teach high school students as an instructor on Saturdays through an NSF grant. I would like to recommend this Honors Program to anyone who is seriously interested in success because this experience is the first step towards many good things to come.
Why Conducting Undergraduate Research Is so Significant: A Reflection of a Recent Graduate
If someone would ask me to mention the most rewarding experiences of my Queensborough education I would almost immediately respond that conducting research with the chemistry department is ranked on top. The reason is that it has left me with a self confident feeling and the unusual opportunity to be a member of a MARC research scholarship at Hunter College.
At Queensborough I conducted research on the microscale determination of the equilibrium constant of weak carboxylic acids using freezing point depression. The procedure, although simple, became tedious because the results had to be reproducible which meant that the same experiment had to be performed many, many times. However everything was forgotten when I presented my results at four different conferences including the National American Chemical Society Meeting in Philadelphia. I want to thank Dr. Paris Svoronos, Dr. Gopal Subramaniam and Mr. Pedro Irigoyen for the invaluable experience
I really believe that undergraduate research is the most helpful life-learning experience that gives the students the unique opportunity to demonstrate how capable they are, to develop their critical thinking, to show their abilities in making thoughtful decisions, and ultimately to realize if they really belong to the science field. I believe the core and essence of research comes from the student and mentor’s enthusiasm. The effort leads to the contribution, the exchanging, and the sharing of ideas and thoughts among student researchers, and creates the incredible degree of bonding between people of diverse origin which is so characteristic of a community college.
How Being in the Honors Program Allows Me To
The very first time I handled tutorial workshops was more than eleven years ago back in high school - helping students with math problems. For my sincere commitment to the students I helped, I was honored with the *Outstanding Service Award* as a peer tutor. This experience has left such a good impression on me that when Dr. Paris Svoronos was looking for chemistry workshop PLTL tutors I immediately grabbed the opportunity.
Taking on the challenge of tutoring chemistry was a daunting task for me. Despite all this, I felt that embarking on this difficult task was worth achieving because I truly believe that I will benefit more from this experience than the students I will be assisting. I can honestly say that my interactions with the diverse group of students have taught me to communicate better and how to 'think on my feet' faster, which I believe is a very valuable skill that I should strive to develop throughout my life.
But most importantly, I am inspired to try harder and to do more by those students who show up regularly and are committed to achieving their goals.
Taking Introductory Honors Chemistry: The Gateway to Scientific Success
I did not know what to expect heading into an Honors Chemistry course. I knew that the work would be arduous, but I also had positive feelings about it. Being an honors student, and taking honors courses with the supervision of credited and excellent professors such as Dr. S.Svoronos is an honor in itself. The way the information is presented and the class is taught is straight forward and the challenge is there lying in front of you. It is your decision whether to go the extra mile and study, or fail out of it. Given the chance by Dr. P.Svoronos, it would be wise to go that extra mile for the sake of future opportunity and credentials. Not only do you learn in an understanding and comfortable environment, but the advantages in being in the program is in itself bestowing. It is an excellent head start for your transcript if you plan for a four-year college. Honors chemistry has been one of the many more challenging courses that not only brings about character and academic discipline to an individual, it brings out new ideas and advancements from us. I have immense respect for the course and those who run it, and I am grateful to be apart of it.
Being Involved in Honors Experiences with the Chemistry Department
I took Honors General Chemistry 151 last semester, spring 2008, which was expected to be a very challenging course. The professor of this class was Dr. Paris Svoronos, and I am sure he highly expected us to achieve an A from this class and also to reach our life goals by learning chemistry. During the lecture class, the professor shared his knowledge with students, and students shared what they knew with each other after the class. All I felt from this class is the absolute cooperation and great participation.
Last semester, Dr. Svoronos encouraged students did not leave summer as a blank vacation, so I applied to serve as an intern in Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which was a very interesting and useful experience. First of all, I was required to learn the process of analyzing water, and then I had to be able to understand the data of the samples from each water factory and different laboratories. Additionally, I worked there as an assistant for several chemists. I had to type the data and to categorize the samples. I thought chemists there were very serious, quiet and wearing big glasses, but actually they loved to share their experience when they were students, to give suggestions to me about the future, and they were really friendly and patient when they taught and explained to me the details of the various processes. From the conversation with them, I could see the passion of being a chemist, and this experience also helped me reassure my life goal. I did not regret to spend my summer time in DEP, because I did learn and I did enjoy it.
Of course, it is not easy to get an A from an Honors class, but what I believe is that working as hard as I can, and there is definitely no excuse for not studying. As I say, taking honors classes is not like taking regular classes. They require that students not only thoroughly concentrate on studying but also completely enjoy the moment of gaining knowledge. Studying is fun! Furthermore, seminars which are held each semester by the Chemistry Department are really interesting because they are the chances to know what is going on outside the textbook, and they also provide the opportunities to realize how to apply what we learned in our daily lives! I appreciate that I got the chance to be a student in honors classes.
Taking Honors Classes at Queensborough: How this Experience Expands the Student’s Academic Horizon
Eva Maria Santos Tejada
The honors courses at Queensborough consist of small size classes. Even though one may initially feel scared, this experience provides individuals with an excellent opportunity to directly interact with the instructors. This program is challenging because it engages the student’s commitment and dedication. In my experience, honors courses had challenged me academically and personally, since the classes are more intense that any other regular section. However, the results are extraordinarily worthy.
First this section academically allows students to expand their horizons when pursuing their fields. Second, the interaction with the instructors creates a strong bond of friendship, respect and trust between both the faculty and the student. It also helps students to develop a critical thinking in the area the course is related to. For instance, honors students in the chemistry department are required to attend certain seminars during the semester, where they have to write a summary of the talk. Although this is challenging because some topics are way beyond the student’s knowledge and background, this experience still allows student to think as a scientist. Finally, I encouraged all students who want to take this challenge to try and make a difference in their own lives. The benefits acquired through the experience of this program will lead to successful graduates who will have more opportunities in their lives on and off campus in the future.
Be Willing…Get Set…Get Trained
Imagine walking into a classroom each morning before the professor arrives and find the room filled with silence, silence because students are preserving their energy for thinking rather than speaking of trivial matters. The honor course requires that a student dedicates him/herself more to the subject. It is not about looking good and how the honor student stands out from the rest of the crowd. It is the commitment, dedication, devotion and willingness that set the honor chemistry student apart from the rest. It is the higher form of disciplining and training provided by the professors teaching the honor course that all serious students have come to love, thus setting these students apart from the rest. The degree and amount of independent thinking, workload, and even a presentation due near the semester end will benefit those who have come for this type of “training.” Not only will honor courses get the individual student more prepared for the real world, but the feeling of being in a classroom filled with students who care and so eager to learn is another bonus. This feeling alone can NOT be said nor found in just any classes. It can only be found in an honors course. Although intense, it is also gratifying at the same moment.
Ten weeks at Cornell University
I spent ten weeks at Cornell University this past summer doing research under the CCMR program. The CCMR is a program where a student is given the opportunity to conduct research, participate in workshops, trips and mini courses.
I was the only community college student among 41 participants. I felt so proud to have represented Queensborough. There were students from Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, University of California, MIT as well as other students from Cornell University.
The common factor among all of us is that we have had prior experience with conducting research. My project was unusual and challenging and was entitled “Development of an Exhibit on Brownian motion in a Science Museum.” I was working in two places, at the Sciencenter under the direction of Dr. Kathy Kraft and the Stroock Lab at the Chemical Engineering Department under the direction of Dr. Abraham Stroock, and Mr. Joseph Woody. Our goal was to develop a prototype exhibit in an exciting way where kids and people could see the thermal nature of matter in microparticles. During the period of almost ten weeks of work we acquired exciting results which I was assigned to orally present as well as demonstrate the prototype exhibit.
I am so thankful for the guidance that I have received from Dr. Paris Svoronos of the Chemistry Department, Dr. Patricia Schneider of the Department of Biological Sciences and Geology and Dr. Ruel Desamero of the Biochemistry Department at York College. Through them I first started doing research at York during the summer of 2004 which was the turning point for my acceptance to the Cornell University research project. I was also accepted to similar programs at both Rutgers University Medical Center and Tufts University.
I believe that Queensborough has great opportunities for its students through the hard work of their faculty seeking to help us. I also believe that as long as one is committed to his or her own obligations, one can grow as a prime caliber student.
Something I Never Expected to Find at QCC
Most people would think that honors classes are for the over achievers or extreme go getters who have possibly never received less than a grade of 3.8 or 3.9 in any of their classes. I as a former Hunter College student definitely held firm to this belief. However, I learned through my experience in taking Honors General Chemistry 151 and 152 at Queensborough Community College that being in an honors class is not just a challenge but it's also a step up to greater understanding. As a Hunter College student I was accustomed to attending most classes, especially science classes, in big lecture halls. The class material would be presented on projectors with barely enough time given to copy the material. At Queensborough the class sizes are smaller, the lecture material is covered more thoroughly, and there is also an opportunity to ask questions. My chemistry 151 professor, Dr. Svoronos, taught the class by explaining the material first and then giving us countless hours of homework, cumulative exams every two weeks, and provided class time for review sessions with a tutor and a session with himself. His style taught me to work harder than I ever had before and I felt that his positive attitude toward student success made me strive to get an A in the class. I also had the opportunity to attend an American Chemical Society presentations conference held at Queensborough in May of 2004. Students from many colleges get the opportunity to present their research at this annual conference. Another opportunity I had was to pick any chemistry related topic and present it through power point for my CH-152 class. My professor in chemistry 152 was Dr. Chauhan who also tested us regularly and covered examples from our textbook very thoroughly. Both of my chemistry professors went the extra length to have their students come to the blackboard and work out any additional problems we had in front of them. This amazed me because finding professors who are passionate about teaching and care for their students to this degree is very hard.
Taking honors classes has been the best experience I've had as compared to any other classes I've previously taken. The initial fear I had going into the honors CH-151 class was completely erased by the fact that Dr. Svoronos pushed the students to work hard through his personal interest in each students success.
Why the Honors Program Has Helped Me Academically and Personally
Participating in the honors program at Queensborough Community was a wonderful and enlightening experience. The honors classes are small so you tend to receive a lot of personal attention from the professor which is great if you don’t understand a topic and you develop an excellent rapport with your professors. In addition the honors classes are exciting, challenging and the camaraderie amongst honors students was amazing. I still stay in contact with most of the friends I met in the honors program.
Most of the honors professors conduct innovative scientific research and honors students gain invaluable experience by participating in these research projects. I have done research in diverse fields, from Biochemistry to Computational Chemistry and the synthesis and characterization of Ionic Liquids.
I cannot possibly put into words what the honors program has done for me academically and personally. As an honors student I attended special lectures, seminars and symposia. Interestingly several students who participated in the honors program are now at some of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning from Cornell University to The Cooper Union and have had research published in several scientific journals.
I would recommend that any student planning to pursue a career in science or any field for that matter to participate in the honors program at Queensborough, and I have to say that the experience is invaluable.
The Coorperative Learning Environment of the Honors Classes
I like the cooperative learning environment in my honors classes. Honors classes are designed to be more discussion-based than other classes, that is very helpful to understand the most difficult material. The reason is the small class size and the individual attention one gets from the instructor. So far I have had Honors General Chemistry I with Dr. Svoronos and I am currently taking Honors General Chemistry II with Dr. Chauhan.
As a result of my success in Honors general Chemistry I, I am currently conducting two-hour workshops, once a week, to students currently taking Introductory Chemistry. The feeling of transmitting my knowledge and helping other students who were in my place a week ago is immeasurable.
I found honors classes to be very challenging. Honors students enjoy learning, are eager to try something different and like to think outside of the classroom. My classmates are students with inquiring minds and students who always want to know “why?” All of the above motivates me to do the best I can.
I recommend Honors classes to all my friends and classmates.
Steve Da Silva
Taking an Honors class is something I am really proud about. Honors courses are very special because the class is small compared to a regular one. The great thing about this small group is that the professor has time to interact with the students. The honors class also gives you honors credit which is better than a regular class credit, since it will hopefully give me a better chance when I apply to a four year school. I intend to earn at least 12 honors class credits with a GPA of 3.40 or better in order to graduate with an Honors certificate. Personally I want to eventually go to medical school after earning my B.S. I was advised to take all my credits needed in a small college rather than in a large college or university, because I will be able to master the material in a better fashion.
I am currently taking Honors General Chemistry I with Dr. Paris Svoronos. We are a class of 14 students and have an adequate opportunity to ask as many questions as we want. Dr. Svoronos often brings us to the blackboard to work our problems out and insists that we explain the difficult parts to the rest of the class. The professor teaches you techniques on how to solve multi-step problems using plain reasoning.
In the lab I have Dr. David Sarno who has worked for Dr. Alan MacDiarmid, the 2000 Nobel prize winner in Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Sarno is demanding yet always available to help us. I chose to start doing research with him this January. I know I will have to present my findings at the 53 rd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society-NY section at St. John’s University this coming May. I intend to stay at Queensborough until May 2007 so I will be working with Dr. Sarno for almost two years. This certainly exciting!.
I recommend honors courses for the incredible opportunity that will help my academic development and career plans.
Taking Honors Classes at Queensborough was the first step that led me to conducting independent research. These classes included chemistry and mathematics. I conducted my research at the College of Staten Island and had my findings presented at Stony Brook, Rutgers University and the National American Chemical society Meeting in Washington DC.
Participating in research was one of the most valuable experiences in my lifetime. It imparted knowledge and inspiration to do more productive things in my life. Research also sparked the interaction of students from every possible culture you can imagine, some of whom have become my very best friends. By participating in the research program I was exposed to faculty members who were excellent mentors. They exercised patience in teaching me how to perform research and exposed me to lectures. Research gave me a definite perspective on which career I want to follow. It opened doors for awards and scholarships for me and I am evidently happy that I participated in this aspect of education.
Being in a Honors class allows me to have a better understanding of the material that is being taught. Also, the tutoring available for the Honors class is very helpful. I came from a university ( Rutgers) that had hundreds of students in one class, which did not allow me to be able to understand or interact with my professors. The advantage of having a smaller number of students in one class, allows one-on-one interactions which leads to better understanding of the material. The tutoring before class allows me to review and answer some questions I have on the material being taught.
In order to achieve goals or even to get started, what is the most important thing to an individual has to do? The answer is self-confidence, thinking ‘I can do it’. People tend to underestimate their potential and that can be an obstacle in a way of developing their ability to succeed. I was one of those people; I underestimated my ability and did not trust myself. However, things have changed since I started taking a chemistry honors class and conducting research.
Before the 2005 winter break, Dr. Svoronos, the Chairman of the Chemistry Department, introduced me to one of the great chemistry professors, Dr. Jun Shin, to conduct research with him. I started doing experiments with Dr. Shin in January, going to school Monday thorough Friday four hours a day. The experiments and data collecting for the research continued till the spring semester. I was taking four classes and had a part time job at that point. It was time consuming to spend ten hours a week for the research.
Occasionally, the results of the experiment did not come out right and I had to redo, many procedures or think of other ways to do it. Four months later, we had the First QCC Honors conference which was my first presentation on the research. It was the moment that I felt the time I had been spending was worth it. That was just beginning of the presentation. On May 7, we had an American Chemical Society-NY section meeting at Stony Brook, followed by an ACS Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting at Rutgers University (May 24, 2005) and finally an ACS National Meeting in Washington D.C. (August 29, 2005).
As a foreigner, doing presentations in English with sources that I did not even understand in the beginning in four different places was like dreaming. Throughout this experience, I gained the self confidence that I needed. When I transfer, now I will have the confidence to compete with the best students and I believe this is the first step to success.
I thank Dr. Svoronos who considered me as his own daughter (that is why he was more than twenty sons and daughters) and has encourage me to be involved with the research. I also thank Dr. Shin who explained to me very well the project and helped to get through it.
Last Spring I completed CH-151 (General Chemistry I) honors and it was undoubtedly a great learning experience. The professor who taught the course was Professor Paris Svoronos who is a spectacular mentor. He was great at grabbing your attention, making sure you fully comprehend the material, captivating you to think beyond the norm, and motivating you to achieve your goals. I am currently taking CH-152 (General Chemistry II) honors with Dr. Moni Chauhan and I am having the same experience. Not only do you have great professors teaching the courses but the class size is small and intimate. This allows you to have a learning experience that is intense and memorable. I would recommend taking honors courses to anyone who wants a challenge and who is serious and dedicated about learning.
Hyun Jeung Kim
This semester I am registered in Honors General Chemistry I. This is my first honors course to take at Queensborough. The course certainly needs a great effort to be on top of it but I like it.
My classmates are nice to help each other and that has left me with a great impression. Since none of us is assured of an A we are forced to work together in problem solving and our effort to get through. This has created a great degree of bonding between us.
Overall this experience is great and I am looking forward towards more such courses in the future.
This is my first semester of taking an Honors class. It is General Chemistry I with Dr. Paris Svoronos. At the beginning of the semester, even though I have heard that the Honors class is never easy, I underestimated it. I treated it is if it was a regular course that I used to take but then fell behind. I therefore realized that I had to spend the time and effort for it.
So now that I am settled I have found out that my fellow classmates are great in working together and I know that I will be doing well not only in this class but also in the future because I got a lesson to never underestimate anything in life. Certainly this class does not allow me to be lazy but I get excited thinking where I was in early September and where I am now, six weeks later. Therefore I will seek the Honors classes whenever I can register them.
Guang Horng David Shyu
I have had an extremely positive experience with the Queensborough Community College Honors program. The list of honors classes that I have taken or am currently taking are EN-102 English Literature, CH-151 General Chemistry I, and SS-260 Contemporary Economic Problems. What sets these classes above the regular classes is the unusual dedication and subject proficiency of the professors in the program and the determination of the students to learn. With an, almost unheard of, average class size of less than 15 students per class, individual attention is not a scarce resource. Most the students in my honors classes keep in touch with each other throughout the week to organize study groups to help better understand the challenging material in these classes. When it comes time to register for classes again I will again specifically look for courses offering Honors sections.
Taking honor's chemistry 151 has been extremely Beneficial to me. The class setting is small and this enables the student to receive the individualized attention that one would not receive otherwise. Dr. P. Svoronos is able to evaluate the potential in his students even when we do not see it ourselves. Upon the commencement of every class, Dr. Svoronos has often anecdotal tales of previous students that have excelled in their fields after taking Honors Chemistry classes. This has allowed me to look at my future beyond QCC.
Being involved with research at QCC as an undergraduate was part of my involvement with the honors program. It was certainly a great experience and a privilege.
At first I was extremely scared because laboratory was not always my favorite field of interest. Eventually I was introduced to my mentor Dr. David Sarno who made everything seem very simple and convinced me about my ability to the extent that I was not afraid anymore.
Unlike the regular laboratory which is part of the curriculum, doing research was fun, interesting and rewarding. The main point is that it is a process where keeping up with, on a weekly basis, is a must if one needs to make progress. Since the time and space for using the lab was rather limited I had to come as much as I could especially during the January break. The results I obtained with Dr. Sarno gave me the opportunity to give two power point presentations first at the First Annual Honors Conference (April 15, 2005) and then at the 53 rd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the ACS-NY section at Stony Brook in front of large audiences. . Although nerve wrecking, the experiences were magnificent and help me boost my confidence.
Overall I truly believe that anyone who bumps into this opportunity of conducting supervised research as part of the Honors Experience should grab it and enjoy the rewarding things it has to offer.
As a student taking an honors class for the second consecutive semester, I can tell you that the benefits for me have been endless. I took a CH-120 honors class last spring with Dr. S. Svoronos, in a small group consisting of only ten students. Because of this small class, she was able to attend to each student’s specific needs while teaching a very thorough and demanding class. This class was also beneficial to me because I was asked to orally present a mini research project, for the 1 st Annual QCC Honors conference, allowing me to experience giving a chemistry-related talk to an audience for the first time, something all other non-honors students did not do.
I am now taking the next honors chemistry class (General Chemistry I) with Dr. P. Svoronos, from which I have already started to benefit for the second time around. I now have a professor that not only knows the work, but also relays it to me in a manner which I understand and I, myself, can explain to the other students. This is another class that consists of less than fifteen students and for that reason I have the professor’s full attention, providing me with a chance to learn the material’s concept beyond what I would have learned in a regular chemistry class.
I know that very soon I will be doing experimental (not only literature!) research in the department which this time I will have to present at an American Chemical Society Conference. Although it sounds scary, I am still confident that I will undoubtedly succeed because the Honors program in the chemistry department is being taken seriously by all its faculty members.
I am currently 21 years old and knew all along that without at least a master’s degree it is very hard to find a well paying job. I was born in Russia and moved to Israel when I turned six and attended a private high school named "ORT ABIN" which is a professional science school that mainly concentrates on chemistry and biotechnology. It is there that I started to like chemistry because this field delas with a lot of common sense.
This semester I registered for Honors General Chemistry I. I decided to take this class for several reasons, such as the fact that I wanted to challenge myself and because of my love for chemistry. Six weeks later I am amazed about the extent of what I have learned and the way I am thinking. In a small class where everybody knows everybody else since week 2 of the semester, I have developed the sense of collaboration that will help everybody involved. I recommend this class to everybody who wants to achieve something out of his academic life and is not afraid to try something different and challenging.
I was really happy to take honors classes. Their size is small when compared to a regular class. Because there are less students there is a good chance that we know each other well and closely. We help each other out with our assigned homework problems. Moreover the instructors pay almost equal attention to all the students and encourage us to do better.
I first had Professor Paris Svoronos in my General Chemistry and had the opportunity to solve problems on the blackboard. This helped me confidence and I am currently assigned to conduct PLTL workshops to the students taking General Chemistry I. During the Spring 2005 semester I did take Honors General Chemistry II with Dr. M. Chauhan and had the opportunity to make an oral presentation on “Free Energy” at the First QCC Honors Conference on April 15, 2005.
I have completed Honors General Chemistry I and I am currently taking Honors General Chemistry II. It is a privilege for me to be a part of an Honors class because it opens doors for research and personal academic development, as well as better interactions with students and the professor. I enjoy being part of a small classroom where there is active enthusiasm and participation from the students' part. I have met some wonderful people in these classes who share the same motivation and desire to learn and apply what they have learned. It is very rewarding to be a part of this class and therefore, I encourage any student who is qualified to join such classes.
There is an old saying which says that your abilities and skills are measured by the competition you have. And if that is the case then the students attending the Honors Program here at QCC are amongst the best skilled students out there. This is because the atmosphere is competitive, the students are more motivated and the instructors are challenging.
The Value of Undergraduate Research
The academic advantages that I have obtained from my experiences in honors classes have branched out to include AMP, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. AMP has opened many doors for my future and has much to do with the fact that I am placed in a hands-on research program. I consider myself lucky to have been placed with my mentors, Dr. Bhanu Chauhan at the College of Staten Island (CSI) and Dr. Moni Chauhan of Queensborough’s Chemistry Department. At CSI, I was taught how to use SEM, TEM, infrared, ultraviolet and other instruments that apply theories I learn in my classes at Queensborough. In this capacity, I have Ph.Ds and graduate students as my own personal tutors. Thanks to AMP and the Honors Scholars Program at Queensborough, I had the opportunity to attend an international conference at Albany that was intended for graduates.
I believe that my two laboratory colleagues at CSI and I were the only undergraduates present. AMP has also given me the opportunity to make a poster presentation of the research I was conducting with Drs. Chauhan to graduate students and faculty in chemistry. This has given me a great sense of accomplishment, and I do not ever want that feeling to end. These are only a few reasons why I am grateful to have been accepted into both the Honors Scholars Program and the AMP program. I would highly recommend to anyone to get involved with undergraduate research.
Honors and the DNA Learning Center
I was hesitant to take honors classes at the beginning of my academic career at Queensborough because I was not sure if I would be able to survive them. I still remember my first class in Honors General Chemistry I, when I felt I was so incapable. As days went by, however, I gained confidence with a little push from my professor, who has taught me that the best way to learn chemistry is to be able to explain it to others. As a result of my success in the honors classes, I was asked to become an intern at the DNA Learning Center in Dolan Labs at Cold Spring Harbor. There, I had the chance to use my knowledge of chemistry and to learn new concepts and techniques.
Part of my job at the Dolan labs is to explain concepts of chemistry to high school students that come there for field trips. This experience has made me a different person, as I am now ready to graduate in spring 2004 and to pursue my studies in a four-year institution.
Honors Leads to FDA Experience
Nilda I. Montes
Honors classes offered at Queens-borough are very beneficial. During my first year, I took honors General Chemistry I and II. Not only are they challenging, but you also really get a good grasp of the theoretical material. Another great advantage is that the classes are small, and you can get a great relationship with your peers as well as the ability to receive help from your professors. This is in great contrast to the classes I took at St. John’s University and Hunter College before I decided to come to Queensborough. As a result of my taking honors classes in chemistry, I was given the opportunity to serve as an intern at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). My duties in this capacity are to work in the food chemistry lab, testing food for pesticides or mycotoxins. Some methods used at the FDA are chromatography and various solvent extractions, both of which are methods that I have learned to do in my honors classes. I am scheduled to make an oral presentation of my findings at the 52nd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society, New York section, which will be held this year on our campus. There are many advantages in taking honors classes in our college, and given the chance more students should seize the opportunity to enroll in them. I know my experiences will help my efforts to get accepted to a well-reputed physician assistant program.
As part of my honors class experience at Queensborough, I began conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Zahra Zakeri at her Molecular Biology Laboratory in Queens College in December 2002. The project is funded by the NIH-Bridges to the Future program, whose coordinator is Dr. Patricia Schneider of the Biological Sciences and Geology Department. Working closely with me, a fellow Queensborough student, and a graduate student, Dr. Zakeri gave us the opportunity to work on the project, “Gender Differences in Cellular Response to Induced Cell Death.” Genetic differences in somatic cells from deviations in chromosomal composition could play a key role in how a disease is expressed. This disparity may provide an explanation why infections and diseases afflict one sex more adversely than the other. Since the Influenza A virus, ethanol, and camptothecin induce cell death, or apoptosis, in infected cells, they were used in our study to assess differences in the reactions of male and female cells to external stimuli. By evaluating cell death as a measure of cellular response, the in vivo functions of the genes involved in apoptosis can be investigated and, further, their prospective role in autoimmune diseases. This project involved sex typing mice at the four different developmental stages that were used in the study, after which primary tissue culture was performed. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), specific to the X and Y chromosomes, followed by gel electrophoresis, was practiced on mouse embryos at 10.5 days gestation, because the gonads do not form until 13.5 days. Application of various cell treatments and Influenza A infections were conducted after the optimum cell number was achieved and cell death was assessed by computer analysis of the acquired data. We completed the initial project in November 2003 and are now examining the role of RNA, through Gene Chip analysis, at the developmental stages where we saw a significant difference. I am pencilled in to make an oral presentation at the 52nd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society, New York section, scheduled for May 1, 2004, at Queensborough. This is an unprecedented opportunity for me, which would not have been possible without the help of the honors classes.
Being an Honors Student - What a Delight!
I have been extremely privileged and honored to have met Drs. Soraya and Paris Svoronos, who have introduced me to the remarkable field of research in chemistry. This opportunity has led me to develop a profound relationship with Dr. Sharon Lall-Ramnarine, my mentor, who has worked tirelessly with me to impart knowledge and give unconditional support throughout our research.
It was through the support of these influential individuals that I was able to be a presenter at the 52nd Annual Undergraduate Symposium of the New York Chemistry Students’ Association. The experience was amazing and informative, as the atmosphere was buzzing with young bright minds with different ideas and ethnic backgrounds emitting rays of immense interest and potentials. I had an opportunity to make my presentation on ionic liquids. It was also a thrill to hear the Nobel Prize winner for 2002, Dr. John B. Fenn, give the keynote speech and to be able to hobnob with other notables in the chemistry world.
I truly enjoyed the occasion and recommend others to participate. Beating Four-year College Students in the "Chemistry Challenge" Hughton Walker Participating in the Honors Scholars Program at Queensborough Community College has been a wonderful and enlightening experience. The honors classes are exciting, extremely challenging and fun. The camaraderie that exists among honors students is amazing and the professors are of the highest possible caliber. Most of the honors professors conduct innovative scientific research, and honors students gain invaluable experience by participating in these research projects.
I cannot possibly put into words what the honors program has done for me academically and personally. As an honors student, I attend special lectures, seminars and symposia, and I participated in the ACS chemistry challenge, an annual chemistry competition, and was most delighted to a part of the winning team. Two other Queensborough teams tied for third place. The teams consisted of honors students from several four-year colleges, including St John’s and Adelphi.
I would recommend any student, and I have, to participate in the honors program at Queensborough; the experience is invaluable.
An Enlightening Honors Experience: A Queensborough Student Doing Research at Queens College
Several months ago I decided to take advantage of an opportunity that was offered to me through Queensborough. Under the guidance of Dr. Paris Svoronos, several professors became mentors for honors undergraduate students who would conduct research and then orally present their findings at the American Chemical Society Symposium. I was privileged to be one of these students.
Over the course of several months, I received hands-on experience while working in Queens College's chemistry lab under the guidance of my mentor, Dr. Chris Massone. I worked on the synthesis of new hexacoordinated phosphorus compounds. These compounds were never produced before, giving me a chance to make an impact in the chemical research field. Throughout my experience, it was one-on-one learning with my mentor, giving me the freedom to ask as many questions as I could and to really get a feel for how research is conducted.
For several months my research was unproductive, and then one day it just all fell together. My reactions began to work, and it was such a feeling of accomplishment. I presented my data at the American Chemical Society Symposium on May 1, 2004. It was hard work, but in the end it all paid off. The friends I have made through Queensborough in the chemistry courses are no longer just friends — we have become a family. We all work together, help each other, and celebrate each other's accomplishments together. You could never find elsewhere the dedication of Queensbor-ough's professors, or the close unity of the students. If ever given this opportunity, I urge students to take advantage of the possibilities.
Honors General Chemistry I Class
The honors Chemistry 151 is certainly a section different than the “regular” class. The class is smaller, which allows every student the chance to participate. The work is also challenging, so that every individual in the class becomes more competitive towards one another.
Honor students not only sit in a classroom and take notes, but they are also involved in other activities provided by the Chemistry Department. As a student in an honors class, I have attended seminars where professors from other colleges come to make a presentation, and we have been asked to write a summary of their talks.
In addition, we have used the Internet to elaborate on specific terms that we are not aware of. Many of us have also participated as volunteers at the 52nd Annual Under-graduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society. This event involved a total of 92 presentations by college undergraduates of the tri-state area, including Queensborough. I personally had the opportunity to observe and realize what is ahead of me, for I myself hope to make a presentation at Stony Brook next year. My experience in the honors General Chemistry I class was definitely challenging and insightful.
Honors Classes: Getting Close to Your Fellow Classmates
Taking the non-honors Introductory Chemistry class last summer with Dr. Soraya Svoronos is where it all began. This was followed by the Honors General Chemistry I, General Chemistry II and Introductory Organic classes, which I took during this past academic year.
This experience was like being part of a big family where I was able to get a lot of individual attention that I may never get in the big universities. Everyone is willing to help and lead me to success both in school and in life. I had the chance of learning from the best of the instructors and with the best students in college. The honors classes have taught me new ways of learning, not just learning from lectures and books, but also from peers in the class. These courses and my honors mathematics classes taught me new ways of understanding materials, obtaining new sights of knowledge unknown to me before,and gaining new ways to perceive difficult problems. I was also given the opportunity to conduct interesting research, something I had never thought of doing before.
When I first started doing organic research with Dr. Luis Vargas of the Chemistry Department here and with Dr. Ralph Stephani of St. John’s University, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Because of my lack of knowledge in advanced organic chemistry, everything seemed so foreign to me. I basically was doing things that I was told to do by the professors or following steps from reported methods to make organic compounds. But the professors were really great. They were kind and patient enough to tell me about the research and the purpose of repeating an experiment over and over again until I could finally reproduce the results.
Perhaps most thrilling, I was asked to orally present my results at the 52nd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society at Queensborough, and I am proud I did that! Now after knowing what our research is all about, and how research could benefit others in their knowledge of chemistry, I am willing to do more of it and discover new things that might not yet be reported in textbooks or lectures. Even though the expectations of being in the honors class and belonging to the honors group gave me some pause, I am really grateful with this experience. It has really taught me a lot of things, not only about school and education, but also about how I can overcome problems and cope with difficult situations in life. I am glad that I have been part of it.
Research, Research, Research . . .
What was the research experience? How was it? Did I get something from it?
The research experience in Chemistry 902-903 was instructive in every meaning of the word. I learned experimentally what is behind the word “research.” It was a challenging opportunity to apply the knowledge that I was supposed to have acquired in my General Chemistry classes. I learned how to use new software, which freed up my hands most of the time (and enabled me to acquire more responsibility at the same time). In contrast to this, my mentor, Dr. Paris Svoronos, and Mr. Peter Irigoyen were always around me when I needed help and to make sure that I was carrying out my research properly.
My research was focused on the study of the kinetics of the reaction between sodium hydroxide and crystal violet. It involved the spectrophotometric determination of the rate of this reaction with respect to both reactants, determination of the order of this reaction and calculating the activation energy. Accuracy was the hardest thing to achieve. I also received a gift. This instructive gift was the fact that I got used to the hard work and discipline, which will help me now and will help me in the future for sure. Finally, the presentation I made at the 2004 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Symposium held at Queensborough will weigh heavily on my resume.
All this came as a natural result of joining the Honors Scholars Program at Queensborough. It provided me with confidence and elevated my hopes and aspirations for a better future.
Being Involved with Honors Classes: An Experience of the Future
On May 1st I had the pleasure of participating as a volunteer at the 52nd Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society held at Queensborough Community College. The symposium gives students the experience of presenting the results of their own supervised research to their peers, mentors and other members of the scientific community. I was a moderator at the event and was able to see firsthand the outstanding work that was presented in various fields of chemistry. Based on the presentations, it was clear that the students had devoted a great deal of time and effort to do their research.
The highlight of the event was keynote speaker, Dr. John B. Fenn, 2002 Nobel Laureate and professor of chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University. An accomplished speaker and brilliant man, he gave us great insight into his personal achievements and the journey toward them over the years.
The success of the symposium is due largely to Dr. Paris Svoronos. In addition to bringing in the keynote speaker and coordinating major aspects of the event, he is also responsible for cultivating the chemistry department and its students to the extent they are today. The symposium was an example of that.
I am proud to have participated in the event.
Research with RIMS: An Exciting Opportunity
Conducting research is essential to both my educational and career goals. During the spring 2004 semester, I worked on Dr. Patricia Schneider’s RIMS project in the Department of Biological Sciences and Geology. The topic was “The Effects of Trace Elements on the Inhibitory Action of Thiourea During Tyrosinase Mediated Conversion of L-Dopa to Dopachrome.” The experiments involved operating a UV-visible spectrophotometer, preparing solutions, and maintaining a consistent pH of the phosphate buffer solution. My mentors, Dr. Simran Sehmi from Biology and Dr. Paris Svoronos from Chemistry, and I enjoyed working closely together on the preliminary results of our experiment, and it was a fantastic learning experience. Using instrumentation in both the biology and chemistry departments, with the wise computer expertise of Mr. Pedro Irigoyen, was a superb example of collaborative work between departments. Knowledge that I have acquired from the chemistry and biology courses taken at Queensbor-ough have helped me understand the fundamental aspects of my project and also enabled me to make the connection between real life and the classroom. The most remarkable part of research is that you may answer questions you initially set out to resolve, but you end up with many more questions, too. This is the driving force behind great scientific achievements.
The collaborative efforts among the departments and faculty and biology lab assistants and numerous professors helped ensure the success of our project. Participating in this research and having the opportunity to orally present at the 52nd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society Symposium, New York section, has been the most enriching event of my college experience here at Queensborough. All this was the product of being in the Honors Scholars Program from the get-go.
The FDA Experience and the Honors Scholars Program
Last spring, I completed a year-long internship with the Food and Drug Administra-tion (FDA) in Jamaica, New York. This internship involved me in research with the food chemistry lab there. It allowed me to apply much of the knowledge I had gained from the chemistry and biology classes here at Queensborough to the chemistry lab there and allowed me to understand how it connects to the “real world.”
Doing research with the scientists at the FDA gave me the opportunity to network with professional scientists. These scientists were extremely patient and guided me through their daily routines. I thought I would be lost, but it proved to be a great learning experience. The scientists there trained me and then allowed me to do many of the tasks performed by them.
I felt comfortable with this research project because I was shown how to do procedures and why they were being done. The research was based on determining the levels of aflatoxins in food. As a health science major, I found the experience worthwhile. It allowed me to view science from a laboratory as well as an educational perspective. I was particularly proud to orally present my results at the 52nd Undergraduate research Symposium of the American Chemical Society, which was held at Queensbor-ough on May 1. I was the only person to make two presentations, and I felt pretty good about it.
Learning How to Apply in the Lab What I Learned in My Honors Class
The research opportunities offered at Queensborough are extremely beneficial to the students. I was given the opportunity to work with Dr. Paris Svoronos from the Chemistry Department and also received much help from Mr. Pedro Irigoyen. The research was conducted on a very convenient basis at my own pace and allowed me to get involved with investigating something different than the standard material one finds in the lab manuals. Dr. Svoronos ensured that the theoretical material was understood and encouraged me to obtain data to present.
On May 1, I was allowed to present the data collected at the 52nd American Chemical Society Undergraduate Research Symposium, which was held at Queensborough. This was a great experience, as it allowed other students as well as myself to make formal presentations.
Research has been beneficial in that it allows you to work with others. It also allows you to learn from your mistakes and understand the material you are working on. The mentors are helpful, and they make themselves available and encourage you to be determined, focused, and give you tips to getting better results. These are all qualities that we will be able to carry on with us in our future endeavors.
Taking Honors Courses at Queensborough: How They Helped Me in My Current Studies at City College
It was a privilege to be in the honor classes of General Chemistry I and II at Queensborough last year. In this capacity, I had the opportunity to extensively develop my skills in both chemistry and my other studies. My experience enriched my knowledge of chemistry, but I also had the encouragement from my instructors, Dr. Paris Svoronos and Dr. Moni Chauhan, to pursue a career associated with that discipline, that is, chemical engineering.
I realized that I had the capacity to solve simple as well as complicated problems through dedication and hard work that was instilled in me by my professors. Now, at City College, I am dealing with much more difficult topics like fluid mechanics and physical chemistry. The good foundations I got from my honors classes, however, make my life much easier.
I am thankful for the opportunities and confidence that I was given by my Queensborough instructors because now I am aware of my capabilities, something made possible through my honors classes.
Honors General Chemistry: A Different Course, a Different Way of Learning
This past semester, I registered in honors General Chemistry I. It was a great experience to be in this class. We learned chemistry in depth, but also in a different way. We did not just have routine, dull lectures in class. Instead, we had a lively discussion of problem solving in which every student was a participant. In other words, there was more give and take between the professor and the students.
Every Friday morning at 8, our professor, Dr. Paris Svoronos, arranged for workshops that were conducted by Sharon Chen, who is currently taking honors Chemistry 152. These workshops were not only helpful to secure higher grades in exams, but also gave us the opportunity to look at different ways of approaching the answering of questions. After this experience, I am confident that I can conduct the workshops myself next year.
Doing Nanotechnology Research
When I was asked to describe the benefits of taking honors courses, a Spanish proverb came to mind, which goes a little something like this: Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres, which roughly translates as “Tell me who you hang out with and I will tell you who you are.”
The friendly competition that I experience among other honor students is a great motivation for me. We have all chosen to take a harder course because we want to excel in our lives and this, in my experience, creates a bond between us. We all help each other to reach our fullest potential this way.
Personally, being in an honors class has opened many doors for me, as faculty took me and my academic goals more seriously. I have had the luxury of having more than one mentor, and they all have helped me succeed in my academic as well as my personal life. I started three years ago with the first-ever Honors Fundamentals of Chemistry class (CH-120) with Dr. Soraya Svoronos. I then proceeded to Honors General Chemistry I with Dr. Paris Svoronos and Honors General Chemistry II with Dr. Moni Chauhan. As a result of the last experience, I started conducting research with nanotechnology at the College of Staten Island under an AMP grant (Alliance for Minority Participation) that Dr. Chauhan received. A year later, I have been able to have my name in a scientific peer-reviewed publication, the first ever by a Queensborough student while still at Queensborough. Moreover, I had a poster presentation at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California, in April, an oral, power-point presentation at the 52nd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the ACS on May 1 at Queensborough, and a presentation at the 37th Silicon Symposium at the University of Pennsyl-vania in May.
I am very proud of all these achievements. Now in a baccalaureate program, I can testify to the fact that nothing would have been possible without my first honors class three
Honors General Chemistry I: How Awe Is Transformed into Excitement
Rosa Patricia Rosales
When I first started with an honors chemistry class, I was nervous, worried and shy. I was not sure how successful I would be, and I had very little confidence in myself. After the first few weeks, my personality started to change. I began to talk a little more and actively participate in class.
Being in an honors chemistry class is a privilege for any student because this is the chance to have the best professors. They worry about us and give us the opportunity to ask any questions we might have. I consider my chemistry honor class a family because my classmates and I share our knowledge and we support each other. We meet in workshops on Friday mornings at 8 and discuss our difficulties.
I witnessed two very important events during the spring semester in the Chemistry Department. First was the Chemistry Challenge, a science competition for students from different colleges and universities in the New York City area, hosted by Queensborough on April 22. I attended the competition and saw how our own chemistry students won a competition among students from four-year colleges. One Queens-borough team came first and two others tied for third, missing second place by one point.
On May 1, I served as a volunteer for the 52nd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society, New York section, and saw how all the students from chemistry chipped in to make this event a real miracle. I see myself a year from now present at this same annual event, to be held then at Stony Brook. Through Dr. Paris Svoronos from Chemistry and Dr. Patricia Schneider from Biology, I made an appointment to see York College’s Dr. Ruel Desamero and hope to do research.
I am so happy to be in the Honors Scholars Program and to see my future develop to the extent that some of last year’s honors students have achieved.
Trying and Trying Again to Obtain the Results You Want
It was a great opportunity to conduct research at Queensborough as part of the Honors Scholars Program. The experience helped me to gain practical knowledge and also improved my understanding and reasoning. The original project failed twice, and the third project was spinning its wheels in the mud until my mentors, Drs. Peter Wong and Paris Svoronos and Mr. Peter Irigoyen, guided me to success.
My research topic, “A Calorimetric Determination of the Enthalpy of a Double Displacement Reaction,” studied the reaction between barium hydroxide and ammonium thiocyanate in an aqueous medium. This reaction is expected to yield little heat change. With these assumptions, I started my research carrying out different reactions between barium hydroxide and various thiocyanates. Every reaction was tried again and again until the results were proven to be reproducible. At the end, I was quite surprised to analyze the results, which were quite unexpected. The fact that the reaction between barium hydroxide and ammonium thiocyanate in aqueous medium involves little heat change was not predicted. In fact, it creates a huge difference in temperature change, which my mentors attributed to entropy changes.
Doing research helped me to understand how theories can be proven. The experience is far from being only a cookbook application. Instead, one is forced to interpret data that are unexpected. Finally, the presentation of this data at the 52nd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society was an experience I cherish.
Taking Honors General Chemistry I: Overcoming the Initial Fear
I started taking classes in Queensborough last year. I had absolutely no idea what would be the better option for me. My instructor in “Fundamentals of Chemistry,” Dr. Soraya Svoronos, helped me out of this situation and offered me the choice to enroll in the honors General Chemistry I course. Naturally, I hesitated because I have a family to take care of, including a young child. Dr. Paris Svoronos was the one who made me realize that I could take on the challenge despite the difficulties.
Now I know that I made the right decision at the right time. I enjoyed my work and class because the whole bunch of us worked as a family, and we discussed the problems together, covering each others’ deficiencies. We met on Friday mornings at 8 and for two hours worked out our difficulties with our peer-led team leader (PLTL) tutor, who was in our shoes only the previous semester.
On Saturday, May 1, Queensborough hosted the 52nd Undergraduate Research Symposium of the American Chemical Society, New York section. This was the first time ever a community college was asked to host this event. I was chosen to participate as a talk moderator, which was a magnificent opportunity for me. I had to introduce the speakers and their affiliation, and I was supposed to control the time span of the talk. I also had the chance to shake hands with the 2002 Nobel laureate, Dr. John Fenn, who gave the keynote speech.
In short, I would recommend this program to anybody taking classes at Queensborough, as long as he or she wants to achieve the goal of being a successful student, a scientist and a citizen.
Making an Oral Research Presentation at Dartmouth College as a Result of RIMS Honors Research
I first joined the Honors Scholars Program at Queensborough this past spring semester. It was a great and challenging experience where I learned to manage both time and studies. In addition to being in Dr. Paris Svoronos' honors chemistry class, I also got the opportunity to join RIMS (Research Initiative for Minority Students), a program that is directed by Dr. Patricia Schneider of the Biological Sciences and Geology Department.
In this capacity I was able to conduct biological anthropology research, which was very different from the ordinary scientific research. As a result of this, I got the opportunity to do a power-point presentation in front of other students and professors at Dartmouth College. It was a great experience in view of the fact that I was the only community college student there. RIMS, along with the honors program.
Honors in the Chemistry Laboratory
I have been a student at Queensborough Community College since the fall of 1999. During this time I have taken almost every chemistry course offered to me by the Chemistry Department, some successfully, some not so successfully. The fact of the matter, however, is that I enjoyed every minute of it.
As I neared the end of my advanced courses, I knew I wanted to get involved in a research project, but truthfully I didn’t feel confident enough to pursue it. My professor for organic chemistry for the two consecutive semesters was Dr. Karimi. He has been conducting his research at the laboratories at Queens College for several years, and to me it seemed like a very prestigious assignment. When he finally agreed to take me on as a student, after struggling through his class, I was overjoyed. I knew that in order for me to grasp chemistry to its fullest extent, I had to experience working in the laboratory. Being able to work with Dr. Karimi was a golden opportunity and I was very grateful. It was at this time that I got involved with an honors class here at Queensborough.
Upon registering for a research class, one is told that for two credits a minimum of 10 hours is required. I can tell you that 10 hours does not even begin to cover it. Serious research requires a major commitment in both time and energy. To begin with, a plan has to be devised for the proposed synthesis. This takes up a great many hours, as literature has to be researched and analyzed to pinpoint the exact mechanisms to be used and to calculate routes that will be unique to the plan. Although the laboratory at Queens College is a fully equipped working laboratory, reagents and compounds must be gathered or ordered from an industrial supplier, a process that can take a few days to complete to have the materials needed on hand. Solvents that are used consistently have to be prepared by distillation, a procedure I surprisingly learned can take up to two to three days to complete, and which takes away from the chemistry we are working on. All this “waste of time” used to cause me great disappointment and frustration, but I soon learned that it’s all a necessary part of the daily activity in order to go forward.
As time progressed, it never escaped me how much I would have missed had I not had this opportunity to take part in this great learning process. Undertaking such an honors class is tough but self-fulfilling. Even the simplest tasks performed by Dr. Karimi amaze me in how many techniques are involved so as to salvage the last drops of a long desired molecule or to save as much as possible of a very pricey compound. So many topics in general chemistry I took for granted. I never knew how excited I could get to retrieve a microscopic amount of final product, or how much I could worry about a reaction that had not come to completion by the time I had to leave. I found myself spending a lot more time at the laboratory than the requisite 10 hours. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. The project is all consuming. Dr. Karimi is not only an exceptionally motivating teacher, he is also a published research scientist. His encouragement to make the project my own and to take responsibility for it has been invaluable to me. By giving me ownership, I had to face any fears I had about chemistry and to rely on myself. And that’s what an honors class can give a student who intends to transfer. I look forward to presenting my research accomplishments at the 51st American Chemical Society Symposium for Undergraduate Research at Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus, on May 3. I am then scheduled to have a poster presentation at the Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting at Princeton in early June. I also intend to give a poster presentation at Queens College in March. I can go on forever, just as my enthusiasm proves. However, all I can say is that at the end of the day I am exhausted and I frown when Dr. Karimi says, “O.K., we’ll start tomorrow again at 10:00 a.m.” I know tomorrow I’ll get up with renewed vigor and race to the lab to do more chemistry!
Honors at a Bargain
Do you love bargains? If so read on.
I write this article to introduce you to Queensborough Community College’s honors classes. I heard of the honors classes during my second semester here, and I thought, “Why would anyone want to take an honors class?” I had the false impression that it was going to be a difficult class, and I really didn’t want to get stuck graduating with a low G.P.A. Now, fortunately, I got dragged into it when the only chemistry class that could fit into my schedule this semester was the honors Chemistry 152 class.
As I walked into the honors chemistry classroom, the first thing I noticed was that the class size was unusually small, with fewer than 15 students. The small class size intimidated me because a smaller class size meant it would of course be easier for the professor to notice whatever I was doing in class. However, the small size of this class turned out to my advantage. The advantage of having a small class is that it allows for more participation by each student. The size also makes it possible for each student’s question to be explained in detail thus minimizing the number of mistakes made on the exams and in turn resulting in higher grades. Another benefit of the small class size is that the students rarely cut classes because it can be easily noticed and the professor would indeed ask them why.
Another characteristic of the honors class is that the professors are usually the best on campus; they know it is detrimental to bombard a student with information without checking to see if the student actually absorbs the material. They always check by asking you questions and expecting an intelligent response from you. The professors also encourage the students to discuss and think about the material, making it easier for the student to remember the material by simply remembering the conversation they had in class. The fact that only students with high GPAs make it into honors classes ensures a better chance of having classmates who are more likely to grasp the material. So, in case you get stuck on a particular subject and the professor is not around, you always have your classmates to fall back on for an explanation of the topic.
A particular experience I had in my chemistry honor class I would like to share is my 15-minute presentation on Hess’s Law. I was stunned when I learned that I had to make a presentation in front of some chemistry smarts in order to finish the course. Everyone is scared of being embarrassed, so there was a little friction getting started, but doing the research for the presentation made me develop a genuine interest in the topic. It also feels very good and you are encouraged when the audience applauds you at the end of the presentation. You get to feel like one of the chemistry smarts by the end of the day.
I talked about a bargain earlier on: The characteristics of an honors class are unlike regular classes at Queensborough. Most of the regular classes are larger, so you do not enjoy the benefits of a small class in the regular classes. The important bargain is that you get a better learning experience all for the same tuition. The honors classes do not cost more. Important as well is the fact that your transcript stands above regular transcripts if you take an honors class.
The Honors Scholars Program at Queensborough Community College is a wonderful opportunity for students who wish to excel academically. I am currently enrolled in honors general chemistry, and it has been an excellent experience for me. The aspects of the program that I find exceptional are:
- The small class allows for a one-on-one relationship with the professor and, if you have a question, it can be easily answered.
- The tutoring sessions once a week help the students to work out any of the problems they are having with the curriculum with tutors who previously have taken the class with the same instructor. This allows the students to work together and help one another out with their weak points, in the process strengthening theirs.
- All the students are basically at the same level, and because of this the classes are taught efficiently and everyone is on the same page, which keeps the momentum of the class moving forward.
- If the student is transferring to a four-year college, it looks appealing on their academic resume and may be the deciding factor to acceptance.
HIV and AIDS in the Laboratory
Taking part in the Honors Scholars Program at Queensborough Community College provides students with many benefits. One of them is being able to attend numerous enriching seminars as a part of the curriculum. On Friday April 4, 2003, Bernardine Lopez, a lab technician at New York Hospital, gave a presentation on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The presentation covered statistical figures on HIV, the effects of it, how it is tested, when it is tested, and how to prevent it. This presentation touched base with most, if not all, of the students attending the seminar since it related principles and concepts they have learned about in their biology and chemistry courses at Queensborough. Ms. Lopez started by giving some statistical figures on HIV, such as the fact that in every 13 minutes one person is infected with this virus. She also mentioned that as of 2000, 80 to 90 million people have already been infected with this virus.
Ms. Lopez proceeded to explain the five main ways of getting AIDS virus contamination, namely, hetero- and homosexual sex, mother to fetus, breast-feeding, drugs and occupational exposure. She explained and emphasized that, when a person is first infected, the person might still not have AIDS because of the number of malignant cells. If the infected cell count is in the order of 200 or more cells per mm3, that person is diagnosed as having AIDS; if the count is less, that person is only HIV positive, which means that there is still a slight chance of not going through the effects the disease has. The test for HIV is quite simple. There is specific antibody screening in human blood, confirmed by a western blot or immnunoflouresence antibody test. There is PCR involved, as well as running polyacrylamide gels, in determining if the cells are producing some specific proteins. If any of the proteins or antibodies that are being tested for are found, then the prognosis is positive for HIV.
Ms. Lopez explained to some extent the life-cycle of the virus. She explained that the virus first attaches to the cell, then penetrates the membrane. It then releases RNA, which enters the nucleolus, then it adheres to the DNA and is replicated by the cell. From this point it may take from three weeks to six months for the virus to kick in. Then the cell creates another virus, which will bud away from the T-cell, destroying it. This virus will reproduce at a rate of 109 viruses a day.
Medicine used when infected with the virus tries to block the production of proteins created by the extra piece of RNA inserted by the virus. One way of detecting HIV is through the ELISA method, which when added to a sample of blood will turn into a specific color, proportional to the infection — the darker the color, the more advanced the infection.
A way in which AIDS is monitored is by having a T-cell count, as this is the host cell. The more the virus reproduces, the more T-cells will be destroyed. Thus, depending on the drop in the number of these cells, the level of infection will be monitored. This seminar was very enriching for the students and gave a clear idea of how this disease is obtained, how it is tested and how to avoid it. The presentation also correlated with many useful techniques from biochemistry. It showed the difficulty of working as a lab technician and also the dangers of working as one. To have the possibility of attending such seminars is a real good advantage for the student, for it may play a big role inupcoming courses.
In conclusion, the Honors Scholars Program has been greatly beneficial in getting us ready for the more advanced courses that are ahead of us upon transfer to a four-year school. Capable and dedicated students should be requesting enrollment in these courses because of the outstanding opportunities that are available.
One of My Experiences in the Honors Scholars Program
As a student in honors classes, I had a strong academic and educational experience. I have also benefited from a friendly environment that allows close contact with both the professor and the students. Aside from these great advantages, I would also gladly refer to the extracurricular activities in these classes that lead to the further improvement of a student’s overall college experience. I have had the opportunity to attend many seminars and talks that added a great deal to my general knowledge. However, one of the most interesting of these supplementary activities was my attendance at the centennial gathering of the New York Section of the American Chemical Society for the conferring of the William H. Nichols Medal.
The assembly consisted of five presentations, dinner and the award ceremony. As my professor informed me, several of the chemists who had presented in this annual award ceremony have later become Nobel Prize winners. As an undergraduate student, I was very excited to listen to the presentations of people who might probably become Nobel Prize winners in the future. A sagacious person would see it right there that the honors experience prepares and familiarizes students with high standards of professionalism. At the ceremony, each presentation was about 50 minutes and was formed of substantial material and the results of several years of research. One of the interesting points that caught my attention was the fact that I could understand, if not all the details, the main focus of the research. I remember when I first started going to chemistry seminars, it was very hard for me to grasp the main idea of the talks; I also had a hard time writing a report. Now, after a year, I have found myself interpreting and partially understanding material that is totally new to me.
Another positive aspect of this ceremony was the social side of it. After all, it was a night when students who had built up relations for two or three semesters could get together and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. In addition, we were also able to get to know people from other colleges. As we were served with dinner and dessert, the speaker gave us a history of the Nichols Medal (Dr. Nichols was a Noble Prize winner himself), and we were introduced to the people that presented. Finally, one of the five finalists got selected as a winner and was awarded with the Nichols Medal.
From a general point of view, the advantage of the Honor Scholars Program is that it not only trains you in terms of high academic standards, but it also familiarizes you with serious and professional aspects. It also teaches students how to share information and how to work as a team to reach a specific goal. I believe that the Nichols ceremony was an exemplary case.
Chemistry, Honors, and the Road to Higher Education
The most frequent question asked to me as a child was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and my response always was, “I don’t know.” Although I was not a very promising high school student, I had better grades in physics, mathematics, biology and geography than in other subjects; hence as a child, I liked best what I got better grades in. Moreover, as I advanced in my studies I knew that I wanted to get into the field of science because I wanted to study civil engineering, a profession I had been exposed to as a young adult through my parent’s friends.
I started Queensborough Community College in the spring of 2001. I studied a lot and worked closely with my professors during my first semester. It was a semester of hard work, little sleep and a lot of achievements. I still remember my negative attitude towards chemistry before I started QCC; at first stepping into my Introductory Chemistry class (CH-120) made me feel like a cat stepping into a dog’s kennel. However, thanks to the outstanding faculty in that department and my taking four more honors courses in this field, chemistry is today my strongest subject, and I have dreams of studying advanced courses in it as I pursue my studies as a transfer student. During my time at Queensbor-ough, I was awarded first prize in the eleventh chemistry Olympiad, the CRC Press Award for excellence in General Chemistry, and I am a member of the team that won the Long Island American Chemical Society Second Chemistry Challenge in December of 2002.
I have also been asked to run chemistry tutoring workshops, where I basically answer students’ questions and explain in detail major concepts faculty have covered. Thanks to my exposure and my job as a tutor, I get to work with different people while reinforcing my knowledge. Currently, I feel that I am a totally different person with a whole new view of what I would like to accomplish in my life. Now I have set my goals and am trying my best to achieve them, I am planning to graduate from Queensborough at the end of this semester with an associate degree in science and to pursue both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering. I have already been accepted to CUNY’s City College and also have been awarded a $16,000 tuition scholarship to Polytechnic University. The Honors Scholars Program at Queensborough has helped me build a strong foundation, not only in pursuing my degree, but also in establishing myself with an eventual career in the field of engineering.
When I first entered college, I had no knowledge of Honor's Program in our college. I was searching for some opportunity to show my potential. I definitely did not want to be in the normal rank. In my second semester at QCC, I found about Honors Program, where the students in the classroom are selected from higher academic backgrounds. The low population of the honor's class (maximum 15) and consequently the low faculty-to-student ratio would allow one to perfect his studies in the subject by getting more attention from the professor. Honors classes were the most determining part of my education in QCC. It was because of honors classes that I was able to overcome my inner conflicts and finally decide what major to pursue. Honors Classes gave me the required self-confidence to trigger my future extravagant ambitions very optimistically. These classes proved that I am much more capable of excelling my academic goals than what an outsider in society would think of a community college student.
Performance of extracurricular activities and strict educational standards in honors classes provided me the scientific environment that a student would need to become a scientist. Honors classes have definitely influenced my future choices and my way of approaching my academic and career goals.
The honors CHD-152 class offered at QCC is an experience enriching course. You attain many skills that you would not normally attain in a non honors chemistry class. Skills such as Power Point presentations, and more hands on training during the lab sessions. With a limited number of students registered in the classes, there is a better chance for everyone to participate and perform every experiment. The aspect that I liked most about the honors CH-152 course is the attention given to every student, the professors are more personal with the students and help a lot more. Every student gets the chance to ask questions and clarify the material. Non-honors courses do not offer personal attention, all students do not get the chance to perform all the experiments, and all the material does not become clear to the student. There is no personal attention; it would be too hard for the instructor to help everyone in large class. I will definitely suggest this course to my friends, there are invaluable experiences and skills that can't be attained in regular chemistry courses, the skills that are learned in this class are much more refined and clearer then those that would be learned in a regular non-honors course.
The honor course CH D-152 was very productive and instructive for me. It was clear that we had more opportunities to learn with more intensity the subjects on class. I enjoyed the challenge and the help offered by the Prof. Moni because I learned how to observe more analytical to simple facts. I really liked the help that I found in my colleagues because we try to understand difficulties together. Many times we went further the topic covered in class because of our personal curiosity. This honor course is more intense that the regular course offered to all students. I would recommend to my friends this course because they will learn more profound the topics enjoying them.
The course was a lot more challenging considering the comments made by my friends in non-honors course about my test questions. The class was small bunch of geniuses making it more interesting and competitive.The best part of the course was infact the presentation; which entailed studying and understanting material covered both in and out of class with the intent of educating others during the presentation. As a matter of fact a couple of the students registered for the course for spring 2003 were partly advised by me.
This honors course provides an excellent foundation in problem solving and develops important presentation skills. The class size is much smaller than non-honors courses. However, the quality of the class does not suffer from the lack of students. On the contrary, the class is more engaging and close friendships have been formed as a result of enrollment inthe class. The material presented is very well organized. Teaching style is conducive to learning. The amount of material taught and absorbed is dependent on the motivation of class. This honors course is highly recommended.