Who are you?
What do you want?
Do you know?
Are you sure?
Do you want to begin to find out?
My guess is that, if you are honest with yourself, you are not sure, but that you want to try and find out. If so, read on: Honors at SIUE is for you.
Honors at SIUE will take you on journey—a journey into what Joseph Campbell in his 1949 masterpiece, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, called “the crucial mystery”—yourselves, your humanity.
If you are here, thinking about attending university and thinking about an honors experience at university you are already ambitious. Good. We welcome your ambition. And we are ready to respond. Because here’s the thing: ambition must be tempered. And it is tempered by being tested and challenged. Honors at SIUE, by challenging you, will transform ambition into excellence. What is excellence?
Well one way to think about excellence is to think that it is the capacity to organize and integrate your life around the pursuit of meaningful and achievable goals. To do that requires first that you set your sights beyond what you already can do or know or have. Honors at SIUE will nurture that capacity to raise your eyes beyond your immediate horizons and inspire you to seek. In other words, no matter how much you know, we will make you wonder again at the world around you. No project, no achievement—whether it is starting a business, becoming a Marine, sending a spacecraft to Pluto, or undertaking the commitment to make a family with a partner—is possible without wonder.
But wonder by itself is not enough. Wonder needs to meet some form of resistance. Challenge is the crucible in which wonder and ambition are transmuted into ability and excellence. Honors at SIUE will provide you—from your first day at the University to your culminating senior project—a set of challenging experiences, in the classroom and without, that you will have to press against. And in that struggling, to improve your ability to speak, to write, to make connections, to engage in reasoned argument, to create, your wonder will be transfigured into persistence, grit, and heightened ability. Make no mistake, some times you will fail; but Honors at SIUE will teach you how to harness your failures to improve yourself. We will help you not be afraid of failing. We will help you come to see failure as lens to focus your attention on your limits so that you can overcome them. And by experiencing success and failure, not only will your ambition grow, so will your humility. You will be able to better recognize that everyone around you, your friends, your family, your professors, your loved ones, your heroes, all of us have failed; we all broken in some way. Your capacity to sympathize with others will grow. As will your recognition that we have to work together to sustain the heritage we receive from our ancestors and to extend it in unimaginable ways.
Honors at SIUE will help you realize that hope grows out of communities of humans working together, assisting each other, compensating each of our flaws. And when you leave Honors, to continue on to the next phase of your journey, you will have made your first effort at living excellence and you can carry that capacity and dream into your personal, professional, and public lives.
We hope you read on and join on us on this journey.
Eric W. Ruckh, Ph.D.
Honors Program Director
Associate Professor of History