Every year, a group of incoming students is invited to be a part
of Seattle Pacific University's honors program. Seniors Aristides Diamant and Melissa Brittain explain what happens when you accept the invitation.

Getting Settled

On your first day of college classes, you may stumble into the wrong building or hear your name mispronounced during attendance. But as a University Scholar at Seattle Pacific University, you’ll share these unforgettable moments with a cohort of 40 other students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

You might go textbook shopping with an English major who grew up in Thailand or spend time decorating your dorm room with a biology major who spends her summers researching alpine wildflowers in Colorado.

Reinsma Teaching

Classroom discussions on Plato’s Republic will start under the guidance of Professor of English Luke Reinsma, but will rarely end when the students pack up for their next class. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find yourself surrounded by fellow UScholars in a dorm lounge at 3 a.m., whether you’re cranking out the last page of a paper on Descartes, or casually chatting about whether or not free will exists.

This might start to sound like a group of bookworms who don’t get out enough, but UScholars truly are some of SPU’s most interesting personalities. After slogging through The Illiad in your second quarter, Dr. Reinsma invites the whole class to his house to eat dinner and watch Troy. While eating baked potatoes and watching Brad Pitt sword fight, you laugh and take a night out to forget about class. UScholars have also been found doing anything from enjoying a game of cricket (complete with cucumber sandwiches) to organizing SPU’s first-ever Dante’s Inferno-themed dance.

Predict the Unpredictable

At the quarterly UScholars’ Trivial Pursuit games, you’ll find it hard to believe that Professor of Music Eric Hanson’s brain is not an encyclopedia. A quick glance at the scribbles on Associate Professor Patrick McDonald’s whiteboard will leave you wondering if he teaches some obscure foreign language, not philosophy. You may even get to see Dr. Reinsma pull his own hair out in excitement at the mere thought of singing his favorite medieval song.

At a Christian school, it’s no shock when issues of faith come up in UScholars’ classes. What will be surprising is that no one pretends to have all of the answers. Even your professors will be eager to hear your ideas about the role of faith in academia, and to learn from your experiences as you learn from theirs.

Class Dismissed

After three years of building relationships with your classmates and developing a solid understanding of Western civilization, your final year is yours to shape as you design and carry out your Honors Project. Though it can be intimidating at times, the project allows you to hone in on a particular area of interest within your major and work with experts in your specific discipline.

By senior year, though you no longer have daily classes with fellow UScholars, they’re still a major part of your life. There’s a good chance that you live with one or more of them, and it’s a sure thing that those talks about free will won’t be over. By graduation, the thought of saying goodbye to this group of students and professors that you’ve grown to know so well is bittersweet. It’s difficult knowing that you’ll never all be in one classroom again, but also inspiring to think of the impact that these amazing people will have on the world. As senior UScholars, we know that joining the program has made our time at SPU more challenging, but also richer and more memorable — looking back, we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

By Seniors and
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Getting Settled

About The Authors 

Aristides Diamant 



Melissa Brittain

ARISTIDES is a senior biology/chemistry double major from Bellingham, Washington. His honors project investigates how invertebrate immune cells respond to high concentrations of zinc. After graduation, he plans to attend graduate school to prepare for a career in medical research.

MELISSA will graduate this year with a degree in art history and a minor in political science. Raised in Ellensburg, Washington, she will remain in Seattle for a year to volunteer with AmeriCorps before pursuing a doctorate in art history in order to become a museum curator. For her honors project, she curated an art exhibit in the Seattle Pacific Art Center.

Books You Wouldn’t think you’d Want on a Desert Island

by Avery Matro

I have always had a love affair with books. One of the reasons I applied for the University Scholars program was that I could think of no better way to spend my college career than reading and discussing the great books of Western literature. With a reading list that included History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, Confessions by Saint Augustine, and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I expected to be challenged academically. I was ready for that. What I was not prepared for was the challenge the reading would pose to my concept of the world, concept of God, and concept of myself. Here are three of the most influential books I read as a UScholar.

Guns, Germs, and Steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel

by Jared

Shipped to us the summer before we started our freshman year, this book was our rude awakening to academia. Guns, Germs, and Steel is Jared Diamond’s 400-page response to the question, “How did Europeans come to dominate the world?” A rite of passage that unites all UScholars, this book has a soft spot in my heart not only for widening my concept of history, but also for being my introduction into the world of academia.



by Shusaku

This book haunted me in the best way possible. Set in 16th-century Japan, Silence follows Portuguese missionaries as they seek to evangelize in a country violently hostile to Christianity. This book raises soul-chilling questions such as “What are the racial issues in overseas missionary work?” “Should a Christian renounce their faith in order to save lives?” and “What do we do when God is silent?” My class had some of the best, most heart-felt discussions on this book.

Perspectives on an Evolving Creation

Perspectives on an Evolving Creation

Keith B.
Miller, Editor

The class Faith and Science completely changed the way I thought about the relationship between the human body and soul. This became the topic for my law school application essay. A particular article in this book called, “Evolution, Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Soul”, sought to reconcile our belief about the soul with discoveries in neuroscience and evolution. The author, Warren Brown argues that in order to have a soul, one must be in relation with God and others.


Avery Matro

is a senior UScholar who will graduate with a major in classical culture and a minor in English literature. She is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii and may return there in the fall to attend law school. For her honors project, she is looking at a particular piece of Roman law that established universal citizenship throughout the empire in the third century.

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