Honors College Profiles

First-generation college student finds support at MSU, blazes new trail for those who will come next

Janice Mendoza applied to 12 universities across the state as a high school senior living in Hazel Park, Michigan.

HC at 60: Student William Davie

William Davie ('18), an Honors College junior majoring in physiology, has already gained valuable research experience at MSU's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station. Davie said he likes the reward of finding out an answer to something and research has exposed him to that. Davie also participated in a service project study abroad to Mexico where he worked at an orphanage.

All In: Director of Social Science Scholars Program Recognized for Mentorship

“I’m about to lecture them on the importance of getting a backpack,” Associate Professor John Waller says as he points to a black hiking backpack sitting in the corner of his Berkey Hall office.

Tiny house tenacity

Alumna Tiffany Pupa took her dream of building a tiny house and made it a reality thanks to more than 150 students, faculty, family members, and even a couple dogs.

HC at 60: Student Jadel Hughes Davis

Jadel Hughes Davis ('17) is an Honors College student majoring in chemical engineering. Her love for biology and fashion have her eyeing a career in the personal care industry, perhaps creating new lotions or perfumes. As a female and student of color working in a STEM field, Jadel Hughes Davis also created a website for people to share their experiences and connect with resources. In this video, she also shares some of her undergraduate research experiences.

Honors College: International Student Edition

International students gathered together to talk about their Honors College experience and offer advice for other MSU students invited to join the college.

HC at 60: Alum Barb Stone Reetz

As the Honors College celebrates its 60th year, we are featuring stories about alumni like Barb Stone Reetz ('72). Barb Stone Reetz exemplifies how a person's own talent and motivation, coupled with course flexibility and academic rigor during college, can prepare a student for a career full of unknowns.

Star Wars Jedi inspire student to pursue degree that will help others

Grant Burton is an Honors College sophomore majoring in psychology. He works in MSU's Clinical Psychophysiology Lab measuring brain waves. His passion for helping others and pursuing a degree in psychology stems from his love of Jedi from the movie series Star Wars. Additionally, Grant is an Honors Enrichment Scholarship recipient. Students apply to earn this award by having exceptional academic achievement, an invitation to the Honors College after the first semester at MSU, and enrolled as a member of an MSU enrichment program.

Poetry of Place: Alumna earns Iowa Poetry Prize

I’m sitting with Iowa Poetry Prize winner Lindsay Tigue in Espresso Royale on Grand River Avenue. The coffee machine is steaming away on this mid-April day as we talk about the landscape of East Lansing, which is just coming into bloom.

Theatre study abroad in London opens new doors for HC double major

Megan Cochrane is an Honors College senior double majoring in theatre and journalism. Over the summer, she participated in the College of Arts & Letters' Theatre in London study abroad program and, because of her Honors College status, was able to take a graduate-level course.

Honors College senior works with youth in South Africa

Brian Batayeh graduated in May from the Honors College and Lyman Briggs College with a degree in biomedical laboratory science. Before graduation, Brian interned for nine weeks in South Africa, working daily with youth on projects impacting their community.

CUBA: A Michigan State University Freshman Seminar Abroad/Honors Research Seminar

First-year Michigan State University Honors College and Academic Scholars Program students traveled to Cuba during the 2015-16 winter break to study urban sustainability. Each student chooses their research project to fit their interests. Then they presented their research at the University Undergraduate Research & Arts Forum (UURAF) in the spring.

Honors Research Seminar at Higgins Lake

Geography Professor Randy Schaetzl leads an Honors Research Seminar exploring former glacial deltas and spits in Central Lower Michigan. As part of the seminar, which spans the fall and spring semesters, students from a variety of majors traveled to Higgins Lake to conduct hands-on soil research.

HC student researches what science lessons work in the classroom

Claire Morrison is an Honors College senior majoring in physical science and secondary education. Her Professorial Assistantship (PA) as a first-year student led to her to working as a research intern for the CREATE for STEM Institute on K-12 science education.

Student explores music performance, education, research

Ben Baldwin is a first-year Honors College student majoring in music education. Through his professorial assistantship, Ben works on research with College of Music Associate Professor Kevin Bartig. Ben is also involved in music ensembles on campus.

First-year research experience connects student with faculty member

Ely Hsu is a first-year Honors College student majoring in mechanical engineering and supply chain management. Through his Honors College professorial assistantship, Hsu works closely with Michigan State University Professor Patrick Kwon to manufacture tool wear, analyze it on a microscopic level, and create a predictive model.

HC theatre major teaches performing arts to students with special needs

Honors College student and Theatre major Ryan Duda ignited his passion for teaching while working for 4th Wall Theatre company, a group that teaches performing arts to intellectually disabled students.

Air Force ROTC cadet, engineer finds academic support in greek life

Grant Kunzi is an Honors College senior majoring in materials science and engineering. Kunzi is a member of the Triangle Fraternity and a cadet captain for the Air Force ROTC Detachment 380, as well as the physical training officer.

Senior focuses on service activities

Sa Li is an Honors College senior majoring in mathematics and an international student from China. During her time at MSU, Li has tutored high school students, participated in a national honor fraternity, and was a member of the 2015 MSU Homecoming Court.

Wrestler's faith drives academic pursuits

Joe Johnson is a senior in the Honors College and a member of the Michigan State University Men's Wrestling Team. Joe joined the Honors College after his first semester at MSU and is majoring in finance. He was recognized with the Scholar-Athlete Award, which is given to athletes with the highest grade-point average on their team. Additionally, he is active in the athletic ministry on campus.

Scholarship supports student researching skull fractures

Patrick Vaughan is an Honors College senior majoring in mechanical engineering. Vaughan is the recipient of the the Hymen and Miriam Stein Scholarship, which funds research by a student proposing a substantial, interesting, and innovative senior thesis or project.

TEDxMSU: Behind the Scenes

Some of the TEDxMSU student leaders talk about how the event, which drew a crowd of nearly 2,000, came together and what their plans are for next year. TEDxMSU was funded with a grant from the Honors College, in conjunction with the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.

HC students organize 2nd TEDxMSU

Several Honors College students organized MSU's second-ever TEDxMSU event, held at the Wharton Center on March 4, 2015. This is a bird's-eye view of the event.

HC student entrepreneur lends a hand to company that helps the homeless

Honors College sophomore Patrick Sedlmayr took his passion for entrepreneurship to The Hatch, which connected him to a company that helps the homeless.

Mowbray Scholar unearths extraordinary experience traveling abroad

Mummies, bones and human remains were never the side of anthropology Honors College senior Elaine Chu had envisioned for herself — not until seeing them in person.

Honors College student reaches for the stars

Sara Denbo is an Honors College member majoring in astrophysics. Her research as an undergraduate is conducted in MSU's Cyclotron. She's also the president of the State Swing Society on campus.

Honors Faculty Award winner challenges students by tackling brain scans and Jane Austen literature

Natalie Phillips, an assistant professor of English, pushes her students to think across disciplines and find the connections.

HC students lead the band

Honors College members Becky Barann and Troy Cervantes are student leaders in the Spartan Marching Band. Every year, about 1/4 of band members are also members of the HC.

5th generation Spartan thrives on the puzzle of math, language

Honors College member Anna Perrin thrives on the puzzle of mathematics and Spanish, her two majors at the university her family attended, beginning with her great, great-grandfather.

Interdisciplinary studies leads HC student into chemical weapons field

Combining science and political interests, Fokel Ellen has used the flexibility of the Honors College to pursue her “dream job” – becoming an expert in chemical weapons.

Honors College sophomore studies simulated galaxies

Claire Kopenhafer is an Honors College and Lyman Briggs College sophomore studying physics. She's working on a research project titled, "Spatially Resolved Spectroscopy of Distant Galaxies."

HC student finds community through show business

Honors College sophomore Chris Ryan found his community at Michigan State through his passion for show business.

Grandparents University brings back memories for HC alumna

Beryl (Benschop) Johnson and husband Edward spent their 49th anniversary at the same place they had their first kiss – Michigan State University.

Alumna found learning doesn't end in the classroom

Diana Bell retired from her post as Senior Vice President at Hewlett-Packard Company. Throughout her life, a love of learning has taken her around the world on many exciting trips.

Shared experiences in Honors

The experience cultivated for students at the Michigan State University Honors College is different for everyone, but in the case of one family, the transformation of the college over time is pretty clear.

President's Report Inside Out: Peter Burroughs

Honors College member Peter Burroughs is profiled in the MSU President's Report "Inside Out". Peter is a media and information major.

President's Report Inside Out: Jolisa Brooks

Honors College member Jolisa Brooks is profiled in the MSU President's Report "Inside Out". Jolisa is in James Madison College.

President's Report Inside Out: Claire Babala

Honors College member Claire Babala is profiled in the MSU President's Report "Inside Out". Claire is a professional writing major.

President's Report Inside Out: Craig Pearson

Honors College member Craig Pearson is profiled in the MSU President's Report "Inside Out." Craig is a triple major.

President's Report Inside Out: Audrey Mabiza

Honors College member Audrey Mabiza is profiled in the MSU President's Report "Inside Out." Audrey is a chemical engineering major.

President's Report Inside Out: Kristen Kelsay

Honors College member Kristen Kelsay is profiled in the MSU President's Report "Inside Out". Kristen is a psychology major.

Student's love of language shaped by international experience

For Danielle Grace, visiting Japan was not just one more thing to cross of her bucket list – it was a cross-cultural experience.

Senior's big dreams earn him Marshall Scholarship

Senior Craig Pearson has plans to find a cure for blindness. He'll continue pursuing that goal during graduate school abroad.

Cuba program offers students research opportunities abroad

Honors College member Renee O'Connell participated in the first-ever Honors Research Seminar/Freshmen Seminar Abroad in Cuba.

Research assistantship leads to career in finance

Roger Rama came to Michigan State University knowing he wanted to do something with business, but he wasn’t exactly sure what.

Creating a more diverse future for biomedicine

Honors College member Kelly Montgomery is one of four students to participate in a new biomedicine program at MSU.

Students work behind the museum

Honors College members Marisa Hamel and Kathleen McLain reveal the legwork required to launch a museum exhibit, and what they’ve learned in the process.

Alumna advocates for Chicago’s sustainability

Honors College alumna Kristen Pratt discusses how her HC experience helped her to land her “dream job” in a recession.

Student Snapshots

Kasey Pham

Hometown: Wheaton, Illinois

Major: Biochemistry

Research: I isolate and study reproductive mutations in sac fungi.

Game changing class: CEM 252 (Organic Chemistry II)

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? The shortage of clean drinking water in developing countries.

Three things I care about: One – My family. Two – Helping out at my local children’s museum. Three – Children’s cartoons.

Maria DeNunzio

Hometown: Lititz, Pennsylvania

Major: Food science

Game changing class: UGS 200H (Honors Research Seminar/Freshman Seminar Abroad in Cuba)

Favorite campus activity: Michigan State Quidditch

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? Hunger

Favorite social media site: Snapchat @md175

Natalie Buckle

Hometown: Buffalo, New York

Major: Accounting with a minor in Spanish

Game changing course: ACC 201

Favorite campus activity: Football season

Favorite social media handle: Twitter @nataliebuckle1

Favorite East Lansing food: Sushiya

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? Discrimination

Linda Lay

Hometown: Falls Church City, Virginia

Major: Biosystems engineering

Game changing class: BE 101 (convinced me to stay in my major)

Favorite campus activity: Design for America

Favorite online resources: TED talks

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? The cycle of poverty

Jeff Hall

Hometown: Akron, Ohio

Major: Mechanical engineering

Game changing class: ME497: Biomechanical Design

Research: Was a member of the Biomechanical Design Research Lab, but now I spend my time on the company I started here (JMH Labs, LLC).

Why did you choose the Michigan State University Honors College? I can take just about any course I’d like. I know of no other university in the nation that has something like this.

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? Lack of renewable energy

Ewurama Appiagyei-Dankah

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Major: Social relations and policy, with minors in Spanish and science, technology, environment and public policy

Game changing class: MC 111: Identity and Community with Professor Borcila

Research: Participating in Honors Research Seminar about the medical and political debates regarding women's access to birth control

Favorite online resources: ProQuest and MSU Library website

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? Environmental problems

Claire Bratzel

Hometown: Wheaton, Illinois

Major: Social relations and policy, with a minor in science, technology, the environment and public policy

Game-changing class: LB 333: History of Science (a study away to Friday Harbor, Washington)

Research: Professorial assistant with Professor Jezierski on the Lansing Neighborhood Project

Favorite campus activity: James Madison College Student Senate

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? I would provide quality public education to all young people.

Megan Cochrane

Hometown: Mattawan, Michigan

Majors: Theatre and Journalism

Game-changing class: THR 201 (Acting II with Mark Colson)

Research: Applying universal design to the creative process of devised theatre

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? Hunger and clean drinking water

Favorite social media and handle: Instagram @megzcochrane

Karalyn Kiessling

Hometown: Battle Creek, Michigan

Major: Microbiology with a specialization in global public health and epidemiology

Game-changing class: MMG 451: Immunology

Why choose the Michigan State University Honors College? The main reason I chose the Honors College at MSU was to challenge myself. Through the Honors College I have greater flexibility in my course schedule and am able to take graduate classes and other high level courses I otherwise could not. 

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? Inequality in health care

Katharine Magoulick

Hometown: Fayetteville, Arkansas

Majors: Zoology and History

Research: I am a Professorial Assistant for Dr. Christopher Waters in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics department

Favorite campus and/or community activity: Being in the Izzone

Why you chose MSU/HC: MSU has the perfect combination of exciting extracurricular activities, great opportunities for research, and dedicated faculty and staff. It just feels like home.

Favorite social media site: Instagram

Georgina Pike

Hometown: Clinton, Michigan

Major: Human biology

Favorite campus and/or community activity: MSU football games

Favorite online resources: MySpartanCareer, MSU study abroad program search

Advice for younger students: Find a goal you’re passionate about and pursue it with determination and optimism. Don't be afraid to dream big or put yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Three things I care about: My family, leaving an impact on my community, inspiring others to impact the world in their own unique way


Joshua Abatie

Hometown: Valparaiso, Indiana

Major: Chemistry 

Research: Professorial assistant in Professor Diane Ebert-May's lab, researching biology education

Favorite East Lansing food: A toss-up between Sushiya and Omi Sushi

Why I chose MSU/HC: Best College of Education and the HC offers great scholarships

Isaiah Walker

Hometown: New Baltimore, Michigan

Major: Finance

Research: Helping with research data on the affect of CEOs on their companies' stocks

Favorite social media site: Twitter

Favorite East Lansing food: IHOP

Favorite movie: The Dark Knight Rises

James Yen

Hometown: Hong Kong

Major: Criminal justice

Favorite campus and/or community activity: Fencing

Why you chose MSU/HC: Criminal Justice program is well known in the world

Favorite online resources: Google Search, Google Maps

Favorite book: The Fault in Our Stars

Anne DeGlopper

Hometown: Holland, Michigan

Major: Dietetics

Why I chose MSU/HC: Top ranked Dietetics program

Three things I care about: Family, friends, faith

Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice

Favorite movie: Tangled

Becky Levin

Hometown: Naperville, Illinois

Major: Dietetics

Favorite campus and/or community activity: IM soccer as well as the football and basketball games

Favorite online resources: D2L is a great way to stay connected to class. 

Advice for younger students: I would say get involved early. It helps the transition from high school to college by keeping you busy. Also, don't be overwhelmed by everything being thrown at you. You will learn to balance everything very quickly.

Favorite book: The Great Gatsby 

Jodie Kozler

Hometown: Livonia, Michigan

Majors: Supply chain management and marketing 

Why I chose MSU/HC: MSU has so many opportunities for students to really find what they want to do with their careers and opens so many doors for students. I love the size of campus and how many awesome people you meet here! The Honors College is such an awesome part of MSU that I'm so happy to be a part of! It's so awesome to have so many people really support and care about you and your academics! I love the small class sizes and how interactive the professors are! 

Favorite online resource: Khan Academy

Favorite East Lansing food: Sushi Ya! 

Moriah Moore

Hometown: Royal Oak, Michigan

Major: Human biology

Research: Professor Shannon Manning's molecular microbiology lab categorizing E. coli strains based on their virulence factors.

Why I chose MSU/HC: I loved the opportunities the Honors College gave me with research scholarships, and I loved the vibe that MSU gave off. Everyone was very welcoming.

Three things I care about: Friends, family, and giving back to the community

Favorite social media site: Instagram 


Devinda Pankaja Wijewardena

Hometown: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Major: Chemical Engineering

Research: Analyzing how Lipid to Fuel Conversion takes place in birds during migration

Favorite campus and/or community activity: H-STAR (Honors STudents Actively Recruiting)

Why you chose MSU/HC: Diverse campus and numerous academic and research opportunities.

If I could solve one world problem, it would be: Combating global terrorism and preventing innocent civilians from being victimized by terrorist attacks.

Favorite social media site: Facebook

Hailee Perrett

Hometown: West Bloomfield, Michigan

Majors: Chemical Engineering and Chemistry

Research: Properties of iron oxide nanoparticles through SEM imagery

Advice for younger students: Indulge in the arts

Favorite East Lansing food: Does the access to a soft-serve machine at almost any hour count?

Favorite campus and/or community activity: Walking through campus during fall

Christopher France

Hometown: Peoria, Illinois

Major: Supply Chain Management

Research: Professorial Assistant and Broad Scholar

Favorite campus and/or community activity: Spartan Marching Band 

If I could solve one world problem, it would be: Political unrest overseas 

Favorite book: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 

Abigail Johnson

Hometown: Winter Springs, Florida

Major: Math education

Research: I work in Dr. Durbin's child emotions lab in the psych department. I get to watch and code videos of kids' reactions to different tasks.

Favorite campus and/or community activity: I really love playing the mellophone in the Spartan Marching Band and serving the band as a brother of Kappa Kappa Psi.

Favorite social media site and handle: Twitter (@AbigailsJoy)

Game-changing course: TE250, mainly because of the service learning component. I got to work in an ESL class for refugees and it inspired me to pick up a minor in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Bara Aldasouqi

Hometown: East Lansing, Michigan

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Research: Methods for non-invasive measurements of aortic aneurysms

Three things I care about: Community building, character development, and family and youth

Advice to younger students: Don't be in a hurry; 12-14 credits is plenty

Favorite East Lansing food: Noodles & Co.

Michael Bigelow

Hometown: White Lake, Michigan

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Research: Production of silicon nanocrystals in a gas phase plasma reactor

Three things I care about: Sustainability, Education and Fairness

Favorite social media site: Reddit

Favorite book: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Ryan Gallant

Hometown: Midland, Michigan

Major: Computer Engineering

Research: Wireless networks and embedded systems

Advice to younger students: Keep calm and carry on

If I could solve one world problem it would be: Ability to communicate worldwide freely and easily

Favorite East Lansing food: Risotto at Snyder Phillips 

Vince Kelly

Hometown: Laingsburg, Michigan

Major: Chemical Engineering

Research: Antibody engineering and yeast surface protein display

Why choose MSU/HC: I got the opportunity to participate in research as a freshman

Favorite online resource: Wolfram Alpha

Favorite movie: The Avengers

Jaylyn Kelly

Hometown: East Lansing, Michigan

Major: Physiology

Research: Physiology

Favorite campus/community activity: Skating at Munn Ice Arena

Game changing course: ANTR 350

Favorite book: Pride & Prejudice

Trevor Lewis

Hometown: Pigeon, Michigan

Major: Human biology

Research: Neurotensin Receptor I distribution

Advice for younger students: Make connections

Three things I care about: Family, Faith and Fun

Favorite book: Treasure Island

Lindsey McQuade

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Research: Physiology/Neuroscience

Favorite online resource: Pubmed

Game changing course: Being an undergraduate volunteer researcher

Favorite East Lansing food: Tropical Smoothie

Charlie Sanders

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Major: Chemical Engineering

Research: Nutrients removal and water reclamation of anaerobic digestion effluent via electrocoagulation

Favorite campus/community activity: MSU Men's Crew Club

If I could solve one world problem, it would be: Global warming

Favorite social media site: Instagram

Kim Vi

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Majors: Biomedical laboratory science and jazz studies

Research: Environmental toxicants on cell-to-cell communication

Favorite online resources: The e-resources through the library have been extremely helpful in my work here at MSU. I've been able to gain a lot of access to journals that I wouldn't have otherwise.

If I could solve one world problem, it would be: The disparity in both access and quality of healthcare between here and developing countries. I'm planning on becoming a physician and devoting a lot of my career working on this issue.

Aaron Ta

Hometown: Northville, Michigan

Major: Computer Science

Research: Game Design

Advice to younger students: Don't be afraid to be aggressive in getting into classes you want and tailoring your classes and program to your interests.

Three things I care about: Family, friends, and enjoying the small things in life.

Mark VanPoppelen

Hometown: Chesterfield, Michigan

Major: Applied Engineering

Research: The Awareness and Opinion of Historic Preservation of Residents of Havana and Detroit

Advice for younger students: Make sure to start studying early for exams.

Game changing course: UGS 200

Peter Burroughs

Hometown: Bowling Green, Ohio

Major: Media and Information

Research: Video game design/video games and gender studies/race studies

Why I chose MSU/HC: When I came here, I fell in love with MSU and its beautiful campus and wonderful people. I knew I belonged here!

Game changing course: LIN 401-Intro to Linguistics

Wyatt Roehler

Hometown: Traverse City, Michigan

Major: Computer Engineering

Research: Shape from Shading

Game changing course: CSE 231

Advice for younger students: Don't be afraid to try and fail. Failure is the precursor to success.

Afton DeWyse

Hometown: Livonia, Michigan

Major: Chemical Engineering

Research: Microstructures on plant leaf surfaces

If I could solve one world problem, it would be: Money dependence

Favorite campus/community activity: Greek life, IM Volleyball

Amy Murphy

Hometown: Tuscola, Illinois

Major: Chemical Engineering

Research: Soil Analysis for UGS 200H

Game changing course: CEM 152

Favorite book: Divergent series

Bradley Disbrow

Hometown: Wheaton, Illinois

Majors: International Relations and Microbiology

Research: Microalgal biofuels in the Plant Biology Department

If I could solve one world problem, it would be: AIDS

Game-changing course: BS 182H

Taylor Joseph

Hometown: Potterville, Michigan

Major: Undecided

Research: Impact of Institutions on State Legislators' Use of Information Sources

Favorite book: The House of Spirits

Three things I care about: My family, academics and animals

Irene Li

Hometown: Canton, Michigan

Majors: Genetics and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences

Research: Free Fatty Acids and Liver Cancer Metastasis

Favorite campus/community activity: Biking and dancing (not simultaneously)!

Favorite online resources: Google Scholar

Ian Hyslop

Hometown: Houghton, Michigan

Major: Environmental Science and Management (Lyman Briggs College)

Research: Dynamic Set Design: Interactivity in Performance

Three things I care about: Environment, Equality, Family

Favorite East Lansing food: Blue corn enchilada from El Azteco