Meet Honors Faculty

Read about what some of the Honors Professors have to say about their classes, their students and what it takes to be in the Honors Program.

CHUCK AMBERS
 
Chuck Ambers’s life and work, including his African Museum, were recently honored by a feature in the
San Diego Union-Tribune:
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/Jul/19/african-museum-ambers/
DORA SCHOENBRUN FERNANDEZ-SPANISH

Honors Course: Fourth Semester Spanish-SPAN 202

BACKGROUND: I have been teaching at Mesa College for over ten years. I teach Spanish in the Languages Department. Spanish Honors IV, Spanish Drama/Teatro en Español is the class/collaboration with the Dramatic Arts department I developed for the district. I have a Masters in Spanish Linguistics and a passion for theatre. As an undergrad at UC Berkeley while studying abroad in Spain I performed in an “American Student troupe” in a one act play in Spanish. It was an amazing experience. I have also offered honors contracts in all levels of Spanish:101, 102, 201, and the Conversation series 210 & 211.

How does your Honors class differ from a regular class?

The students explore the language through culture, the arts and with theatrical readings. I engage students in theatrical games to improve pronunciation, grammar and to connect the word with the body.

The design of the class allows us to go into depth on the topics. It is more of a learning seminar than a traditional lecture class. The small class size creates numerous opportunities for the students to participate in activities that reinforce learning of the material.

 To whom would you recommend this class?

I would recommend this class to any student who is interested in improving their Spanish, wants to explore their creativity and/or try something new.  Students interested in the language, learning more about arts and culture find the course fun and challenging. It transfers to the UC and CSU campuses.

 What is most rewarding to you as an Honors instructor?

As an honors instructor I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with a motivated student population that is eager to explore new ways of learning. Our classroom is lively with ready to explore and learn students. We’re able to accomplish a transformative experience from creating language work on the page to development on the stage in one semester. In Honors I am able to be a more active participant and support in the students’ individual learning process.  

My students have all acted in their original scripts in Spanish to a live audience. This is a remarkable experience for the students. Students gain confidence they take with them in all their future endeavors.

How does the Honors program benefit the student?

Students acquire a wealth of language and culture skills. As well, students learn how to work creatively, in collaboration, and how to take a project from a creative idea to final product. These skills are applicable to everyday life and for future jobs. Team building and making friends is another benefit. Students are well prepared to continue on in their advanced language course studies.

 How would this class enrich the educational experience of the students?

Enrichment occurs by connecting students to the theatre community events, exposing students to learning opportunities that are challenging and thought provoking going beyond the language into are area of cultural & critical reflection on a myriad of topics, like human rights and immigration. .

We have guest speakers who are knowledgeable in theatre and Spanish. In the past we’ve have local theatre’s company do a theatre writing workshops, students received individual acting advice (in Spanish) from a well known famous actor, and an expert in Chicano & International theatre present. Each semester, we attend local theatrical events related to the Spanish speaking world.

What is the most unique activity the students in your Honors class will experience?

Team writing and acting in their original one act play in Spanish to a public audience in the Apolliad theatre. The evening of Spanish one-acts is produced and directed by Drama students. This collaboration is a unique and rewarding experience for the entire team from both disciplines. Students showcase many of their unique talents during this semester collaboration.

If you had to sum up the Honors Program in one word, what would it be?

Rewarding!

JOLINE BOURDAGES-PSYCHOLOGY

Honors Course: Intro to Social Psychology-PSYC 166

BACKGROUND: I have been teaching at Mesa College for six years. I teach General Psychology and Social Psychology. Social Psychology is the class I developed for the district and teach as an honors course. I have also offered honors contracts in General Psychology.

How does your Honors class differ from a regular class?

The design of the class allows for us to go into depth on the topics. It is more of a learning seminar than a traditional lecture class. The small class size creates numerous opportunities for the students to participate in activities that reinforce learning of the material.

To whom would you recommend this class?

I would recommend this class to any student who in interested in how our behavior is influenced by those around us and how we influence the behavior of others. It transfers to the UC and CSU campuses.

What is most rewarding to you as an Honors instructor?

The quality of the work, ideas and discussions that the honors students produce is very rewarding. One former student won second place in a national contest for the work he completed in the course. Several students have been selected to present at an honors conference.

How does the Honors program benefit the student?

It fosters in depth critical thinking that is applicable to everyday life.

How would this class enrich the educational experience of the students?

Enrichment would occur by exposing students to learning opportunities that are challenging and thought provoking. This can promote a love of learning and increase a student's sense of self-efficacy.

What is the most unique activity the students in your Honors class will experience?

One of the requirements is to complete a research project in which they are required to collect data in order to test a hypothesis.

If you had to sum up the Honors Program in one word, what would it be?

Enthusiasm!

RON ISRAEL-ENGLISH

Honors Course: Reading and Composition-ENGL 101

BACKGROUND: Professor Israel joined the English department in the Spring of 1997, after spending the previous six years an adjunct instructor at SDSU and Mesa, Palomar and MiraCosta colleges. He has been teaching Honors English 101 since 1999 and offers Honors contracts in most of his courses. In rare moments of relaxation he enjoys playing the guitar.

How does your Honors class differ from a regular class?

I try to engage the students at a deeper, more rigorous level of critical thought and response through carefully chosen readings and subject matter. Whereas my non-Honors course might cover a broad range of topics through an anthology or reader along with another "whole" text, my Honors section will explore ideas through several whole texts. This semester, for example, our readings will include Joseph Campbell's Power of Myth, Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, and Yann Martel's Life of Pi.

To whom would you recommend this class?

I recommend it to anyone who wants to pursue ideas and written responses in a way that requires an open mind and a desire to dig deep.

How would this class enrich the educational experience of the students?

I hope that my students come away with a broadened sense of our world-both geographically and culturally-as well as a broadened sense of themselves and their place in that world. I also hope that my students begin to understand that all changes start small and grow with cultivation and persistence.

What is the most unique activity the students in your Honors class will experience?

I think the most interesting and unique activities are the discussions of texts-those assigned by me and those produced by the students-as those texts are often not ones considered or read by the students. Their sense of joy at discovering the beauty of an idea or the writing style of an author previously unknown is a wonderful experience for them and me.

If you had to sum up the Honors Program in one word, what would it be?

"Awe-inspiring" ("awe" in the sense of reverence, respect, and wonder-excluding the dread by and large!).

CARL STRONA-ARCHITECTURE

Honors Course: Architectural Theory-ARCH 226

BACKGROUND: Professor Strona is a Licensed Architect in both California and Hawaii. He has 32 years of teaching experience with the San Diego Community College District. In 2006 he was elected to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows. Professor Strona offers an Honors class in Architectural Theory.

How does your Honors class differ from a regular class?

The course is offered only as an Honors course.

To whom would you recommend this class?

Anyone interested in architecture.

How would this class enrich the educational experience of the students?

Architecture is one of the foundations of all cultures. An educated person should have a basic understanding of the concerns and motives of architecture.

What is the most interesting activity the students in your Honors class participate in?

Students interview an architect and document with pictures his/her work. Each student makes a report to the class comparing and contrasting the work of their chosen architect with the lecture and reading material presented in class.

If you had to sum up the Honors Program in one word, what would it be?

Enriching