This year marked two major milestones for Milligan’s Honors Program. In May, the first class of honors students walked across the stage in Seeger Chapel to receive their diplomas. This fall, the program welcomed its largest cohort, promising a bright future for the program.

The Milligan Honors Program was created in 2015 as an opportunity for high-achieving students to engage in interdisciplinary discussions and further embrace their development as servant-leaders. By building on Milligan’s core liberal arts curriculum, the program encourages students to think critically about the relationship between their academic education and their faith.

Dr. Michael Blouin, associate professor of English and humanities, and Dr. Amy Edmonds, associate professor of political science, helped found the program. Both Blouin and Edmonds were part of honors programs during their time as undergraduate students. Their personal experiences inspired them to create Milligan’s program.

“It was something that was really meaningful and a very formative part of my education,” stated Edmonds. “I wanted students at Milligan to have the chance to have that sort of experience as well.”

The curriculum for honors students includes a selection of core classes, electives, and colloquium experiences, and the program culminates with two capstone requirements.

“An honors program isn’t designed to add more work to the pile,” said Blouin. “It’s meant to enhance the student’s experience and to make their experience at Milligan more meaningful.”

Each semester, the program welcomes top academics to campus to share their research. Honors students have the opportunity to engage in one-on-one discussions and share a meal with the visiting scholar.

The honors program upholds Milligan’s mission to form servant-leaders through service projects, including a freshman service project and a senior service capstone project. These projects serve to reinforce the connection between serving and academia.

Several of the requirements have evolved over the past four years, and Edmonds cites student input as a driving force behind those changes.

“Often, our students end up persuading us to do things we didn’t necessarily foresee,” said Edmonds. “Some of the best innovations we’ve had to the program have come from students.”

These changes include adjusting the parameters for various capstone requirements, which have allowed students to pursue internship experiences abroad and scientific research opportunities.

“We want to be a program that evolves with the changing demands of our students,” said Blouin. “Honors students help drive this program, and we prize their vision for where the program goes next.”

Having graduated the first class, Edmonds and Blouin took time to reflect on the program, even as they look ahead to the program’s future.

“The first class played a pivotal role in giving shape to the program,” reflected Blouin. “The honors program was only an idea until the first class made it a reality. We miss them terribly, but their influence continues to be felt.”

– by Elizabeth Dykes (’21)