CCAD’s Honors Program gives high-achieving students the chance to shape and expand their CCAD education—and not just in the classroom. “Several years ago a faculty and staff committee met to consider an Honors Program,” said Provost Anedith Nash. “Discussion turned on whether to do a more conventional liberal arts honors program or to fully integrate all of our educational experiences. The decision to offer Honors as part of the whole CCAD experience was important. Even more important was encouraging the Honors participants to be the creators of the program.”
When the program opened in 2009, participating students created an Honors Student Council, which took the lead in researching honors programs nationwide. “We’re one of the few art and design schools to offer an Honors program—and we are certainly pioneering by offering both seminars and studio courses in Honors,” said sophomore Lillie Templeton, the current Council president.
Templeton and fellow Council members Jennifer Chema, Dayna Smith, and Austin McClellan have worked alongside CCAD faculty and staff to launch the program, hold CCAD’s first two annual Honors Symposiums, and formulate plans for the program’s next steps.
Jennifer Chema (JC): The Honors Symposium is a great way of saying to family members, potential employers, or community members that here is something more from CCAD.
Dayna Smith (DS): We’ve been working very closely with Career Services, and we’re hoping at some point we can get prospective employers to come to the symposium and look at it as a highlight reel for the school. It will get students to want to join and show them that this is something more than just a bunch of geeks wanting to do more work.
Austin McClellan (AM): We definitely do not want to claim that we are the best designers at this school. We just say that we are much more excited about working on projects that encompass the all-around.
DS: Right. [Honors] expands how we think outside the aesthetic. …It’s something we think about—a lot. I think the best thing about Honors is that we can trust each other, and we’re not just going to say, “Oh, that looks pretty!” We’re going to give each other really good feedback.
AM: I ask people to talk to me about my work in [Honors] class. That way, I can get a much broader spectrum because there is someone from a different major offering their advice.
DS: You learn to not only listen to these ideas but to take them in and let them change you. When you’re in a room with people who have different ideas, you grow better. I think the difference is that [our regular] classes teach us how to produce, but Honors teaches us how to…
Lillie Templeton (LT): Control it.
DS: Well, get through it. Think. It isn’t so much the product as it is how you got to the product.
AM: The process.
LT: It’s about how you think through things. We’re not geniuses; it’s not about our final work being better than someone else’s. It’s all about offering these resources to help students think through something differently.
DS: I think the people in Honors usually consider it more fun. We get to do more things, have bigger ideas. You don’t get told what to do; you pursue something that really interests you. When you do that, you’re not really doing homework anymore. And you start to learn how to apply that to everything else.
JC: I would like to say that working with our [Honors faculty] mentors is really helpful because I am one of those people who likes to work one-on-one with people.
DS: I only saw my mentor three times the whole semester, but every time I went in there he completely changed my whole thought process. And at that moment, I know my whole mind has just gone crazy and I have to write down everything. I’ll fill up half a sketchbook with writing and half with drawing and find out what works. He’s so busy, but he finds the time to work with me, which is great.
LT: And that’s a really nice thing the Honors program can offer. A lot of students will look at it and say “I’m going into this field, and you don’t offer seminars specific to that field.” Well, that’s because that’s what your major offers, and we’re trying to offer you something a little bit different, something that you won’t get elsewhere. The other nice part is that the teacher/student relationship that we offer with the mentoring is not limited too within your major. Even though I am an Ad/Graph major, I can go to an Illustration faculty member. I can go to someone in ID and say, “I’m an Honors student, would you be interested in mentoring me?” And they could say no, but…
DS: …They almost always say yes. Teachers like kids that are crazy.
AM: I like that you can also go out and find a mentor that isn’t a faculty member. I often [work with] a faculty member at Kentucky University; she’s in child development, and she helps with transferring ideas to a child, getting a child to relate to what I’m trying to communicate.
DS: I work with members of the children’s department at [the] Mayo [Clinic] who specialize in psychiatric health, and they let me in on the way the kids see agoraphobia. They’ll tell me something, and I’ll say, “Really? I never thought of it like that.”
JC: And it’s also nice that our mentors are like, “Take a breath, breathe.” They help so much at refocusing your energy and very gently saying, “Do this.” [Because] you’re not doing such time-constrained projects, it’s nice to have someone there to be gentle, and I just can’t thank my mentor enough. I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.
Published in print twice a year, CCAD’s IMAGE magazine shares stories about our creative community, whether here in Columbus or around the world—what we’re doing, thinking, and planning next. The IMAGE blog brings those stories online for transmission at the click of a mouse.