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.
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.
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.
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 Aristides Diamant and Melissa Brittain
Illustration By Doug Boehm
Photos By Luke Rutan and Mike Siegel