Campus News

Students present honors projects

Months of rigorous study culminated on Monday, May 1, in presentations by six Kirkwood Community College Honors students. Coming together via a Zoom meeting, the event was a time for students to share the honors projects they have been working on all semester.  

The Honors Program is an opportunity offered to high-achieving students in which they are able to work directly with a professor, diving deep into a more specific interest the student may have. 

It is a chance to gain a deeper understanding of a certain concept with the guidance of educational professionals. 

As for the projects themselves, there is almost no limit as to what students can choose to work on. Those who wish to closely examine a social issue, for example, may write a paper to showcase their work. 

Projects this year ranged widely. Alex Niermann, journalism, decided to produce a documentary about the Kirkwood Iowa City Campus, collecting the voices and visuals of the faculty who’ve spent many years there. Luke Clark, a parks and natural resources major, traveled to central Wisconsin and spent time with conservationists learning about efforts to manage and reintroduce an important bird species, the pinnated grouse, to Iowa.  

Honors Program Chair Dr. Peter Jauhiainen is well-aware of the significance of offering this program to students of all backgrounds. “…[I]t gives students the opportunity to work closely, one-on-one, with an individual faculty member on a project, something that typically might not be available to them until their senior year at a university.” 

Notably, the Honors Program can give transfer students a leg-up on their applications, especially when applying to more selective universities.  

Those who complete an Honors Project through the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society are encouraged to base their project on a predetermined biennial theme, a tradition that has been carried on since 1968. The theme for the 2022-2024 period was “The Art and Science of Play.” 

Bailey O’Brien, a philosophy student, decided to incorporate this into her project, which centered around fostering connection through the integration of “play” as a fundamental part of creating open dialogue. 

Students who choose to embark on an Honors Project reap the benefits of learning how to focus thoroughly on a subject for an extended period of time, something that Jauhiainen said “gives them an outlet to engage their creativity and critical thinking.” 

According to the college’s website, “The Kirkwood Community College Honors Program offers outstanding students the opportunity to push their academic boundaries, work closely with faculty in their career fields and make themselves more attractive to selective four-year schools.” 

More information about the Honors Program can be found at

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