Although the program experienced a cutback in its operating budget, the number of students this year increased from 365 to 390, according to the program’s director, Emma Waters Dawson.
The ranks of the best and brightest have expanded as Florida A&M’s honors program grew by about 7 percent since last year.
The Merit Scholars for this year are: Baysha Bernales, a third-year physics student from Hawthorne, Fla.; Ulyssa Hester, a fourth-year biology student from Stone Mountain, Ga.; and Antony Jepson, a third-year computer engineering student from Hinesville, Ga.
Waters said in terms of getting an internship and an exceptional experience, the honors program is where any student should be.
Martika Moss, a third-year chemistry pre-med student from Hollywood, Fla., agreed with Dawson, and said the program has helped her have a great FAMU experience.
“I absolutely love the honors program,” Moss said. “All of the advisors here are really helpful.”
Many of the program’s students obtained internships this summer and sent emails to their advisors about their experiences.
Chika Okafor, a fourth-year biology pre-med student from Atlanta, said her research at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., required her to explain the effects of sympathetic innervations on cardiomyocyte – a type of involuntary striated muscle found in the walls of the heart-, maturation and growth in neonatal rat pups.
Jason Moore, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Tallahassee, also obtained an internship this summer. Moore spent 10 weeks at Boston University’s biomedical engineering lab as part of an undergraduate research fellowship program.
On Nov.10, more than 20 students from the program will attend the National Association of African-American Honors
Programs conference at Hampton University. The students will participate in several presentations, a model of African nation rainbow and an oratorical contest.
“The honors program is a friendly but competitive environment,” said Lauren Thomas, a third-year mathematics student from Bainbridge, Ga. “Being in the program has taught me the importance of leadership and valuing the talents of others.”
FAMU’s honors program has impressed others beyond the campus. On Sept. 23, Jennifer Jackson, senior producer at Central City Productions, sent a letter to Dawson inviting one student from the program to participate in the sixth annual production of the Black College Quiz show series. The show will feature students from historically black colleges and universities. The questions for the competition will be based on black history.
From Jan. 14 – Feb. 26, the quiz show will air across the country. Central City Productions will pay for the students’ trip, and the first, second and third place students will receive scholarships.
The honors program schedule for this month is as follows: movie night on the sixth, homecoming beautification service project on the ninth, an Honors in the Major Thesis workshop on the Oct 22. A CIA seminar and a camp adventures meeting are also planned.
“We want FAMU honors’ students to be the premiere presence on campus,” Dawson said. “The best and brightest should be a part of the program.”