Featured Honors Students

Lukasz Adamczyk

Lukasz Adamczyk

Year: Senior

Major: Biochemistry and Spanish

Hometown: Deerfield, IL

Living: Commuter Student

Lukasz is also an athlete and competes on the UIC Men’s Gymnastics Team. Read more about his impressive accomplishments on ncaa.com and uicflames.com!

Major and Career Goals:

I am studying Biochemistry and Spanish with hopes of getting my Masters degree in Public Health and then going to Medical School.

What surprised me about UIC and the Honors College:

What surprised me most about the Honors College is the closeness between the student body of the Honors College and the Faculty. There is a strong connection that is made between fellows, faculty, and students.

Favorite Class at UIC: Honors 125: Biography and Identity I: Existentialism in European and American Fiction

This class was a warming experience and nice introduction to the higher thinking and critical analysis that is required in college.

Most Meaningful Honors Activity:

An Honors 201 Seminar titled “The First Amendment” with Professor Caporusso. The class interested me because I am a political junky, so I loved the opportunity to have a class about the Bill of Rights and the court cases that helped to define each amendment to the Constitution.

A Favorite Honors College Memory:

Dressing up as Spongebob with a friend—who wore a spiderman costume—for an HCAB (Honors College Advisory Board) Faculty-Student Luncheon!

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

Make sure to enjoy the four years that you have in college, and to utilize every resource that is at your disposition. The Honors College offers a lot of possibilities and ways to get ahead in life; all that you need to do is take advantage of them. Never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help, because most of the time someone has already had a similar issue or has asked that question before!

Aleksa Anderson

Aleksa Anderson

Year: Sophomore

Major: Neuroscience

Hometown: LaGrange, IL

Living: On-Campus Resident

Major and Career Goals:

When I came into college, I was a Biological Sciences major, but after looking through the course catalog and seeing the classes for the Neuroscience major, I decided to switch. I’m excited to take Psychology and Philosophy classes and have them count towards my major. I also want to be an orthopedic surgeon, and I am on the fence about whether to do spinal or pediatric orthopedics.

Favorite class: English 161: Academic Writing II: Writing for Inquiry and Research

The topic was science-fiction, so we got to read a lot of interesting articles about how aliens represent the unknown. Even though sci-fi literature is a favorite of mine, this was a new perspective on a topic that I had never really thought much about, which I loved. My teacher (Professor Wonders) was so energetic, helpful, and kind that she made the class a lot of fun.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

I was surprised by all the classes that they offer only to Honors College students. The topics are so interesting and unique. I also met my best friends through the Honors College, and was given many resources to help me succeed.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

Don’t procrastinate, and use the resources that the Honors College and James Stukel Towers gives you. The study lounges can be your best friend when you have loud roommates. All the people in the Honors College are there to help you so don’t be afraid to befriend and talk to them.

Bethany Arrington

Bethany Arrington

Year: Junior

Major: BFA Theatre Performance

Hometown: Carmel, IN

Living: Off-campus apartment

Major and Career Goals:

I am an acting major. I wish to pursue a career in theatre here in Chicago. I prefer to work on stage but have done some film work and will continue with it if the opportunities arise. Eventually, I wish to be an artistic director at an ensemble-based theater like Steppenwolf.

Favorite Class at UIC: Theatre 210: Movement I: Body/Self

My favorite class has been Movement 1 with Sharon Gopfert. The class was all about kinesthetic awareness and empowerment of the body. It did wonders for my work as an actor and as a person. I have also been an athlete my whole life, so it was the first time I got to use both my athletic and artistic skill sets together.

Most meaningful Honors Activity:

I completed an Honors Course Supplement this past Fall with Honors College Faculty Fellow Luigi Salerni's production “Cloud Nine.” I observed rehearsals, participated in a weekly discussion, and attended the final performance of the play. It was a phenomenal experience to delve into the rehearsal process from an audience member's point of view and to discuss the major themes of the play like gender, equality, sexuality, and oppression. I'm normally on stage so it was a whole new experience for me. It gave me time to truly experience the piece on a personal level, which I don't think I would have done on my own. It also greatly empowered me as a young woman in this city, and in an industry that values me mostly for what I look like, to step up and be unabashed in all that I have to offer other than my physical appearance.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

Dr. Pirozhenko (Honors College Post-Doctoral Fellow) made a profound impact on me. I had her for Honors 101 and then took one of her Honors classes on German literature and film. She is an inspiration to me. There is something wonderfully beautiful about intelligent, strong, and caring women. I feel the same way about Dean Bottoms (Dean of the Honors College). They make me feel like I have a lot to offer this world. It's such a gift.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

I've learned that I can be a "good student" but a mediocre artist if I don't expand my horizons both academically and personally. Obviously, everyone in the Honors College is intelligent, otherwise they wouldn't be here. But I want to challenge my peers to not just be "good students" but to be incredibly well-rounded people.

Nikhil Bommakanti

Nikhil Bommakanti

Year: Senior

Major: Bioengineering

Hometown: Naperville, IL

Living: On-Campus Resident

Nikhil is the recipient of the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a nationally-competitive scholarship awarded to outstanding students for research careers in math, science, or engineering. Read more about Nikhil's award.

Major and Career Goals:

I am a GPPA Medicine student majoring in bioengineering. My GPPA courses and independent research have informed my desire to practice medicine and conduct basic science and clinical research.

Favorite Class at UIC: Computer Science 107: Introduction to Computing and Programming

As a first-semester freshman with no background in computer science, I wasn’t sure what to expect from CS 107, Introduction to Computing and Programming. It quickly became one of my favorite classes—and has remained one since—largely due to the professor, Dr. Dale Reed, but also because of the utility of programming as a problem-solving tool. Dr. Reed’s interest in his students’ success is clear; he explains difficult concepts using clear language and stays after class to answer questions. Dr. Reed is genuinely entertaining, often livening up lectures with off-the-cuff jokes, and he has an infectious enthusiasm for the subject. Having a basic understanding of programming has also proven tremendously useful and empowering for me.

Most Meaningful Honors Activity:

My most meaningful Honors Activity has been conducting research with Dr. Randal Dull. I have been tremendously fortunate to have Dr. Dull as a mentor, and as for research itself, there is something particularly exciting about being at the forefront of discovery. In the lab, we have the opportunity to investigate questions, pursue ideas, and follow up on chance observations, with the freedom of doing so in the manner of our choosing. And, in the biomedical sciences in particular, we have the satisfaction of working toward solutions that will ultimately benefit patients. I encourage all students to get involved with laboratory research.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

The Honors College has been very supportive of my research, providing funding for my individual project and sponsoring me to attend a symposium regarding health disparities in lung disease. The Honors College also hosts an annual research forum, which I prepared for by attending an Honors College poster presentation workshop. These resources, among others, are available to all Honors College students.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

Often our most transformative experiences occur outside of the classroom. Determine what it is that interests you and start doing it immediately.

Kerry Gawne

Kerry Gawne

Year: Senior

Major: Germanic Studies with Minors in Art History, English, & History

Hometown: Riverside, IL

Living: Commuter Student

Major and Career Goals:

My major is Germanic Studies, but my undergraduate education has also encompassed multiple other subjects. I’m extremely interested in learning about different cultures (and am currently studying abroad in Germany!). However, I have tried to go beyond just focusing on Germanic studies, and much of my coursework has incorporated other disciplines, such as Art History and English. I hope to someday start my own not-for-profit organization dedicated to cross-cultural education and understanding.

What surprised me about UIC and the Honors College:

For being a large, urban university, UIC’s campus often feels smaller than it is. Furthermore, there is a sense of community that the Honors College especially adds to UIC’s campus. While there are many faces you may pass in a day, the Honors College provides you with an experience that feels much more personal and easier to connect with.

Most Meaningful Honors Activity:

I have found that working with professors for an Honors Supplement or Honors Section of a course is greatly rewarding. Their feedback can be extremely helpful, and you often have time and guidance from them that you would not receive otherwise. I think this is especially true of the Art History department, as I have produced some annotated bibliographies and extended term papers over multiple semesters, and found that my work benefited from the expertise and creativity of these professors.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

The opportunity to explore new topics through Honors Seminars and branch out of my comfort zone through Honors Activities has been tremendously rewarding, as it has allowed me to both learn something new and become involved in various communities on- and off-campus. Additionally, being surrounded by other like-minded students and supportive mentors has helped me to stay motivated and focused while taking advantage of the many opportunities with which I am presented.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

Don’t just treat membership in the Honors College as a resume booster. Find ways to become involved with the Honors College and take advantage of all the resources they have to offer you!

Miguel Angel Guevara-Orozco

Miguel Angel Guevara-Orozco

Year: Sophomore

Major: Biological Sciences

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Living: Commuter Student

Favorite Class at UIC: Cultural Anthropology

This class opened my eyes to the different ways that people live their lives based on the environment they grew up in. It aided in the disposal of many false presumptions I believed were true about various cultures. Furthermore, Dr. Patil gave several lectures on her work in the field of Medical Anthropology, and it was interesting to see issues in the medical field in different countries.

Campus involvement: Peer Health Exchange and Intramural Soccer

Peer Health Exchange is an organization that provides health education seminars to high school freshman in low-income schools that do not have enough funding for a health program. This program has allowed me to give back to the Chicago community by providing free educational services, and it gave me a tremendous amount of teaching experience. I spent on average two hours every week teaching seminars on Nutrition & Physical activity. It was incredible to see how eager the students were to learn about the subject and to ask questions they had about the topic. I also gained a lot of leadership skills, since I was managing a classroom of about 20-30 teenagers.

I also joined an intramural soccer team. I was never part of a soccer team in my life. This allowed me to experience the adrenaline of a different sport, make companionships with people I barely knew, and burn off some of the stress that builds up after studying for hours.

What surprised me about UIC and the Honors College:

I was surprised at how diverse UIC truly is. While walking across the quad it was interesting to hear all the different languages that were being spoken, including Spanish, Russian, Polish, Mandarin, Korean, etc. Coming from a predominantly Hispanic high school, I had never experienced such a diverse group of individuals.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

As a member of the Honors College, I was able to experience the tight-knit feel of a small liberal arts university while attending a large research university. This allowed me to build strong relationships with my fellow classmates and staff members. Also, being a member of the Honors College places me with individuals who motivate me to succeed because every member has high expectations for his or her career. As a result of the Honors College, I am much more excited about my future studies than I was when I first entered UIC.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

Live your life backwards. Turn off all electronics, sit by yourself in your room, and visualize where you want to be in the future. Then work backwards to see what you need to accomplish in order to make your visualization a reality. Finally, take that information and apply it.

Sharice Hill

Sharice Hill

Year: Junior

Major: Anthropology

Hometown: Bellwood, IL

Living: On-Campus Resident

Major and Career Goals:

My major is Anthropology and I am also a Pre-Med student. My professional goal is to obtain a medical degree and a Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology. I aspire to be involved in medical research within the fields of cardiology, pediatrics, neonatal and maternal care. In the field, I will be able to explore the various socio-cultural and biological constructs that can influence health care practices, the perception of illness and disease, and the representation of healthcare in the global society.

Favorite Class at UIC: African American Studies 110: Introduction to African American Literature, 1760-1910.

This course opened my eyes to the folk literary traditions of my ancestors and brought to light the oppression to which they were subjected. The information I learned in high school about African American history during that time period was far surpassed by Professor Dubey’s intriguing presentation and knowledge about the subject.

Most Meaningful Honors Activity:

My most meaningful Honors Activity was working as a Research Assistant for Dr. Rosemary White-Traut at the UIC College of Nursing. I have collaborated with her in conducting research that investigates the high occurrence of pre-term births among African American women, and am currently co-authoring a manuscript on the costs of development and implementation of the ATVV intervention for pre-term infants. This experience has fostered my development of research skills, cultivated my interest in medical research, and has strengthened my aspirations to become a research physician.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

Being associated with such a distinguished group of people has made my college worthwhile. Here, I have formed what I hope to be long-lasting friendships with amazing people. Also, being in the Honors College has offered me a niche I call home in the midst of the enormous university student population where it is easy to get lost.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

Don’t be all work and no play. Take out the time to relax and enjoy your college experience.

Danielle Leibowitz

Danielle Leibowitz

Year: Junior

Major: Teaching of Mathematics with a Psychology Minor

Hometown: Wilmette, IL

Living: On-campus Resident

Danielle serves as the UIC student representative on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Watch this short video to hear more about Danielle’s experience at UIC!

Major and Career Goals:

I am majoring in the Teaching of Mathematics, with hopes of becoming a high school math teacher in the Chicago Public School District. However, although teaching is my goal immediately following college, my ultimate goal is to work in education policy.

Favorite Class at UIC: HON 123: Education & Social Justice I: The Influence of John Dewey on American Education

My favorite class was an Honors Core class I took freshman year with Dr. Ward Weldon. I liked this class because the professor had such a wealth of personal experience and knowledge to share with the class, and he had a very different approach to teaching than many other professors I’ve had. In fact, it was this class that sparked my interest to pursue the career path I’ve chosen.

Most Meaningful Honors Activity:

My leadership roles have been my most meaningful Honors Activities. Throughout college, I have been heavily involved in student government. This year, I will be serving as the UIC student representative on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. I am thankful that I have been able to use that as my Honors Activity, so that I can fully invest my time into it.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

Being a member of the Honors College has improved my college experience dramatically. Even starting with orientation, having other Honors College students in my group was nice, and I stayed friends with a lot of those people. Having a peer group like this is great, because my friends are constantly inspiring me to be at my best. Furthermore, having an Honors College advisor has been very helpful, along with many of the other resources available to Honors College students.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

College is truly an amazing time where we as students have so much at our disposal, and can accomplish more than we may have ever thought possible. My advice: Take a risk, and surprise yourself with how incredible you are.

Annie Li

Annie Li

Year: Junior

Major: Health Information Management

Hometown: Belize City, Belize

Living: Commuter Student

Major and Career Goals:

I am currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Health Information Management, and later, I hope to obtain a Masters in Hospital Administration to become a lead administrator at a major medical institution.

What surprised me about UIC and the Honors College:

I did not know anyone when I came to UIC from Belize, but the close-knit Honors College community and friendly advisors made it easy to fit in and feel at home.

Favorite Class at UIC: Business Administration 200: Managerial Communication

I took BA 200 last semester with Mr. Bill Kohler, and I always looked forward to going to class every Tuesday and Thursday. Maybe it was because we were learning about communication and presentation skills, but his lessons were always engaging and entertaining. Although I am not a Business Administration major, everything that I learned is applicable to my future professional career. I will never forget the last day of classes when Mr. Kohler gave us a motivational speech and played his harmonica!

Most Meaningful Honors Activity:

My first Honors Core Course, HON 140: Diversity and Cultural Identity, with Dr. Rebecca Gordon and Dan Cairo, has been my favorite Honors Activity so far. In the discussion-based class we conversed about topics including dialogue, controversial issues, and identity. The topics of this course were unique, interesting, and informative, and the structure allowed me to make long-lasting connections with some of my peers.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

Being a member of the Honors College has driven me out of my comfort zone to try new experiences, such as attending cultural events through the Chicago Signature Honors Program. The Honors College has also assisted me financially, for which I am very grateful!

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

Take advantage of your resources; you have to pay for them either way. Also, college is not only about getting good grades, so get involved in student organizations to meet new people, gain leadership opportunities, and enjoy your time at UIC. You have hundreds of organizations to choose from!

Abhinav Reddy

Abhinav Reddy

Year: Sophomore

Major: BioEngineering

Hometown: Naperville

Living: Off-campus apartment

Abhinav serves as the Undergraduate Student Government President. Read more about Abhinav's role as President!

Major and Career Goals:

I am a BioEngineering major and also a pre-Med student in the GPPA (Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions) Medicine program. I hope to become a surgeon following medical school.

Favorite Class at UIC: HON 123: Educational Equality & School Reform: From No Child Left Behind To Intelligent Design

This Honors Core class, taught by Dr. Superfine, looked at education policy through history. It challenged me to think not only about the idealistic view that we may have about education, but also the practical and legal aspects.

Most Meaningful Honors Activity:

My most meaningful Honors Activity was my first semester Honors 128 class, American Popular Fiction Classics and Their Elite Subversions, with Dr. Messenger. In this class, we looked at the differences between elite and popular literature, and I learned how to examine literature and use it as a tool for analyzing history.

A Favorite Honors College Memory:

My favorite memories have been sitting around in the Honors College lounge talking and arguing with the people there about everything from politics on abortion to interesting classes to the crazy-attractive scale.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

It has really helped me branch out to meet students who are not only in my classes but also have similar interests and career goals as I do. It has also provided me with a solid educational support system that I have been grateful for throughout my time here.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

My advice is to get involved in the campus when you get here. From the very first couple weeks, I got involved in the Undergraduate Student Government. I fell in love with the work I did there and have been involved with it ever since. That early involvement has helped shape not only my outlook on education, but has given me a great group of friends and has given me the opportunity to serve as the President of the Undergraduate Student Government for the upcoming year.

Fransely Robles

Fransely Robles

Year: Senior

Major: Gender & Women’s Studies, Applied Psychology, Minor in Religious Studies

Hometown: Humboldt Park

Living: Off-campus apartment

Robles was awarded the 2013 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate, an award that goes to one outstanding senior at each college/university in Illinois.

Major and Career Goals:

My main area of study is Gender & Women’s Studies. I have used the field of psychology to approach my work in Gender & Women’s studies from a psychological standpoint. However, my career goals are to get my Ph.D. in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies. My long-term career goal is to enter the world of academia by teaching college students and pursuing my various research interests and social justice initiatives. Read more about Robles’s research!

What surprised me about UIC and the Honors College:

What really shocked me about the Honors College and still does is that the Dean, Advisors, and staff all do their best (and do a great job!) at providing a holistic approach to advising. This to me has always been important as a first-generation student coming to UIC completely clueless. Their support has been vital to my success as an undergraduate student at UIC.

Favorite place to study or hang out on campus:

HONORS COLLEGE!! Ha. I love studying in the quiet study room. I can get so much work done because that is the place where I can focus. My favorite hangout place on campus is the Gender & Sexuality Center (GSC). I love hanging out with my queer folks and/or allies.

Favorite Class at UIC:Gender & Women Studies 203: Sexuality and Community: Lesbians, Gay Men & Contemporary Society

Taught by Professor John D’Emilio, the course draws on the history of early LGBTQ movements in the U.S. all the way through current personal, political and cultural issues that LGBTQ folks experience. This class was my favorite because I learned about a history that is hushed, unspoken, and/or unwritten within history units in schools. This course was like a breath of fresh air. It was awesome to study this topic, and the materials of the course and the professor are both brilliant!

Most Meaningful Honors Activity:

HON 200: Current Events Forum with Honors College Associate Dean Stacie Williams. I took the course my sophomore year. Maybe I had a bias going into the class because Dean Williams was already my advisor. However, this class changed my life forever. We had the opportunity to discuss pressing current events. I loved the course because it provided space for important social justice issues to be discussed and analyzed within the world of academia. I remember a classmate, Freddy, once shared a presentation which included a video titled, “The Greatest Speech Ever Made,” that had images of global disparities with Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” speech. This video sparked a drastic change in my life and has become the reason why today I continue to fight for social justice issues.

A challenge I’ve overcome to be successful in college:

I have had to overcome the challenge of being a first generation student—first generation in the U.S. mainland, first generation English-educated in my family, first generation to go to college, etc. I have overcome this challenge by seeking constant advising and mentorship from professors, advisors, and staff at UIC. I have also sought out additional support by going to spaces on campus like the Gender and Sexuality Center, Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services, Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, the TRIO Academic Support Program, etc.

How the Honors College has impacted me:

Being a part of the Honors College has made a huge difference in my personal growth. I have learned not only how to be a successful college student, but also how to be a successful person in life. Ever hear the quote “practice makes perfect”? Well, the Honors College has definitely been an encouraging place for me to grow not only in my academic abilities, but also to develop all the knowledge I now have as an upperclassman. I would not be where I am at today had it not been for the diverse and holistic support that the Honors College provides.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

Ask questions! Do not be afraid to reach out for help in times of need. See your advisors to check in throughout every semester. Keep an open mind, and engage in research and service to get the most out of your experience at UIC. And finally, hang around the Honors College because their events throughout the semester are awesome and there may be some free food to enjoy!

Karelle Webb

Karelle Webb

Year: Sophomore

Major: Undeclared, Pre-Nursing

Hometown: Aurora, IL

Living: On-Campus Resident

Major and Career Goals:

My intended major is nursing, but I would like to take my career beyond that into the sphere of public health. As these two fields are closely related, I intend to pursue a BSN and an MPH. My ultimate goal is to work for the Centers for Disease Control.

What surprised me about UIC and the Honors College:

Although UIC is a huge research university with over 27,000 students, the Honors College has provided a small college community to which I feel a strong connection. The fantastic staff, advisors, and Dean Bottoms commit themselves to the mission of the Honors College and make every effort to provide the resources for Honors College students to thrive and succeed.

Favorite Class at UIC: Honors 123: Diversity

My favorite class so far has been my Honors Core class, HON 123: Diversity, taught by the fantastic Professor Curtwright. Eye-opening and enlightening, this class dug deep into the one of the hallmarks of UIC—diversity.

Most Meaningful Honors Activity:

My planned Honors Activity for the spring semester is the Honors Ambassador Program. This has been an excellent opportunity to give back to the Honors College. As I had a fantastic first year experience at UIC, I strongly believe in the idea of passing along the knowledge, advice, and support that aids new students in successfully transitioning to UIC and the Honors College.

A Favorite Honors College Memory:

One of my favorite memories in the Honors College was the moment I walked into my Honors College interview and I was welcomed by name. This was before I even introduced myself; it was in that moment that I knew that UIC was the right decision.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

College is absolutely the best time of your life, but it is what you make it. Join a club you wouldn’t have otherwise, pursue opportunities that seem impossible, and take the time to find out who you really are and what you’re sincerely passionate about.

J. Diego Yahuaca

J. Diego Yahuaca

Year: Sophomore

Major: Biological Sciences

Hometown: Mokena, IL

Living: On-Campus Resident

Major and Career Goals:

I am a Biological Sciences Major. Even as a kid, I always enjoyed being able to explain why something is. Life is so complex and profound; being able to study it and gain insight into the subject was a no-brainer for me.

Favorite class: Honors 121: Images of Good and Evil in Literature

My favorite class was taught by Professor Schejbal. His passion for the class is undeniable, and the short stories we read were not only interesting reads, but also gave us a glimpse into the nebulous nature of man and left us with food for thought.

Memorable UIC experience:

My most memorable experience at UIC has to be my first week here with the PAP-H students. The opportunity to be in the residence hall a week early was great because we got much better acquainted with campus in all aspects. So many of the relationships I formed at UIC began that week!

What surprised me about UIC and the Honors College:

Quite possibly, the most surprising thing about UIC was how alive it can be (when Chicago's weather allows it). Snowball fights in front of University Hall, frisbee tosses in the Quad, and so on …

How the Honors College has impacted me:

Being a member of the Honors College is like being a member of a club where you give a bit of your time, and you get all these perks in return. Extra time with library books, an Honors College Advisor, and countless networking opportunities are just a small portion of what the Honors College brings. The Honors College also provides a community where like-minded individuals share thoughts and ideas in any way imaginable.

Advice for prospective Honors College students:

Never pass up an opportunity you are offered. If you see an activity, club, lecture, workshop, etc. that you think could benefit you, do it. The Honors College prides itself on providing these opportunities, so don't ever hesitate to try something new.