Back in May I had the opportunity to speak at Mercy College's Honors Symposium. The symposium is a yearly gathering of the entire Honors Program at Mercy, and features projects and research presentations completed by the students.
During my speech, I shared the story of how the Honors Program opened me up to new subjects I never knew I was interested in, and allowed me to make friends, connections, and memories by participating in community service projects.
Before the symposium, I was interviewed on camera about being a senior and how I felt about my time at Mercy. Check out the two videos of me below!
Here’s a copy of my speech from the day of the event, if you’d like to read it:
Thank you Dr. Ellison and the Honors Program.
My name is Kristin Millard and I’m a graduating senior in the Music Industry and Technology Program here at Mercy. I’ve been an honors student my full four years at the college.
I’m from a small town outside of Chicago called Sandwich, Illinois. Yes, it’s called Sandwich. Leaving my life there was a huge step for me, and I was so scared that I’d be so lost coming to New York. Thankfully, I was welcomed into the honors community the moment I stepped foot onto campus, and they’ve stuck with me throughout my entire college career.
The honors program has led me to make the most out of my general education classes, discover new topics and passions that I would never have encountered on my own, and it has led me to make connections with inspiring and enthusiastic educators. Even my best friends I have now I met during my first honors class. It was so refreshing to be in classes with students that valued their learning and were excited about being in school.
Something I love about Mercy and college in general is that it gives you the chance to explore subjects that you normally wouldn’t have access to. I know some students groan at the thought of gen ed classes, but it was in these classes, particularly honors classes, that I discovered my love of environmentalism. With the help of Dr. Davida Smyth in Honors Environmental Science, I was able to lead a project with a group of honors students to write a proposal on the removal of excess plastic waste here on campus, mostly in the cafeteria.
Dr. Smyth encouraged us to think of ways we could relate our major to solving this problem, and each of us took different roles in the proposal. An accounting major handled the cost aspects, Vet Tech majors researched the harmful effects plastic waste has on local wildlife, Marketing majors made a plan to share the ideas with the community, and so on.
To our surprise, the school and cafeteria management actually took our proposal into consideration, and is now using biodegradable and recyclable containers instead of plastic. It was an amazing realization for me and the rest of the class that we actually do have the power to make a change, and work towards improving not just our campus, but our entire planet.
One of my favorite volunteer opportunities also opened my eyes to my love for saving the planet. On earth day a few years ago, I went with a group of students to Van Cortlandt Park to remove invasive species of plants and plant new trees in the park. That was such a fun day I’ll always remember, and again showed me that I could make a change.
Being part of the honors program also led me to make the decision to go into education after graduating. As part of my volunteer work I signed up for the Reading Buddies program with Westchester Community Partners. This is a wonderful program that I encourage all of you to join. I met with elementary students after school once a week to work on homework, read books, and play games. We also helped them put on a holiday play, which was a really special experience for me. It’s amazing how much of an impact can be made by encouraging a young student and showing them how fun learning can be.
Really, that’s what my professors have done for me over the years-- they have shown me new ways of looking at my own education, and just their enthusiasm and passion for teaching has shown me that I carry that same passion within me. The feeling of watching students grow and be excited about what they can do is undescribable.
I want to take a moment to thank all of the professors for their hard work and dedication.
Of course what I’ve mentioned here only scratches the surface of the opportunities the honors program has granted me over the years. I’m entirely grateful to be part of such a passionate community of teachers and learners. Of course, we’ve all had our bumps in the road along the way, but that’s what makes us stronger. The inspiration I’ve gotten from being part of this program has helped me with my studies as an Audio Engineer, as well as made me a better leader and community member.
This program has grown so much just in the past year, and I’m excited to see where it will go in the years to come as I look back as an alumni. Dr. Ellison, Dr. Fazioli, and Professor Salamone have done such an amazing job re-vamping the program, putting on amazing events, and always being there for the honors students, and I would also like to give them a big round of applause for all of their hard work.
Thank you so much for having me, I’m excited to see everyone’s projects!