Welcome to the Templeton Honors College, Cohort of 2017! As the summer draws to a close, the fear and excitement about freshman year only intensifies until move-in day. Freshman year is such a formative year, full of potential. The community that you’re involved in will shape you more than you are even aware; in the Honors College, you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by wonderfully unique and amazing people. The Templeton Honors College is designed to promote this type of community, beginning with the camping trip.
Because of the nature of the camping trip, you will create extremely strong friendships with other students in an exceptionally short time. While some first impressions of others on the camping trip are laughably different than the real friends you will come to know and love during the semester, this trip bonds a group of people together like no other. The concept of the camping trip sounds scary at first—I was terrified—but in retrospect, it was one of the best experiences of the year. The sense of community it fosters makes your academic experience so much richer. Because the questions we pursue together have such an intensely personal relevance to everyday life, it is one of the biggest gifts of attending the Templeton Honors college that you get to explore these ideas with friends, and continue these conversations outside of the classroom. These friendships become much larger than academic study. These are the people you will go to church with, eat with, cry with, play guitar at 1 AM with, and live with for at least the next few years of your life. This is a community that isn’t solely focused on your academic growth, but your growth as a whole person.
Your professors in the Honors College are also concerned about your growth as a full person and truly want you to succeed inside and outside of class. Professors are always willing to help guide you through many problems you might face: papers, challenging readings, adjusting to college life, friend or family difficulties…the list could go on. The Honors College professors are all people that I hope to one day count among my closest friends. Their examples of love, intelligence, humor, mercy (when you inevitably have to ask for a paper or project extension), humility, and true passion for learning are some of the most inspiring things about the Honors College. Don’t be afraid to ask professors for help with a paper or even confide in them when you need advice; soak up all their wisdom while you are blessed enough to have the opportunity. In Ancient Greece, Socrates’s students followed him around all day to learn from him; while you probably shouldn’t go to those lengths on Eastern’s campus, don’t be afraid to learn as much as possible from your professors while you can!
A third and perhaps more subtle aspect of the Templeton community includes Plato, Aristotle, Austen, Dante, Augustine, Weil, and the other authors you read throughout your Honors classes. These friends take a little more effort to truly get to know, and it’s tempting to treat them as what they first appear: unrelatable words written by someone who died a long, long time ago. If you approach these texts with vulnerability and humility, however, these authors could become some of your closest friends. Allow yourself to laugh with Socrates, experience both the horror of hell and joy of heaven alongside Dante, charge into battle next to Roland and Oliver, weep and struggle with Odysseus. With ancient texts especially, it’s easy to read books as if they are far removed from what the modern person thinks and feels. Don’t fall into that temptation! These authors write about the human experience, and were human just as we are today, and have much to teach us.
As one of our professors, Dr. Jenkins, declares, the only place you can reach alone is hell. Community is important and fundamental to our needs as humans. The Honors College is a place where community is cherished and valued, and we are so excited to welcome you into it this upcoming year.