A Class Act
The Honors College Student Council (HCSC) recently gave back to the college by establishing an Annual Class Gift. Through their inaugural contribution, the HCSC created the "Honors College Student Council Research Scholarship” to support student research.
“The class gift could have been anything, but something like a vending machine for the café seemed kind of trivial,” said Ian Cruise, who currently serves as President of HCSC. “That’s why we came up with the idea of a scholarship. It’s sustainable and it sort of builds a tradition.”
Cruise, who helped organize the class gift project, said the scholarship aims to recognize the theme of research, the Honors College’s area of emphasis during the junior year.
“Each year for the Honors College has a theme, and we think that each theme gets recognized in some way — except for research,” he said. “For the freshman theme of service, there’s a service award; for sophomore year, there’s a study abroad award. Senior year, you get thesis money, but there’s no junior year research-type award. So we decided to create one.”
The class gift was presented to the Advisory Council by Cruise and fellow HCSC member Olivia LeBlanc, who serves as a vice president. The goal is to offer the $500 scholarship annually to Honors College juniors to fund or defray the costs of their research projects.
“I think that giving back to the Honors College is important because it does so much for us, and it draws a lot of students to LSU,” said Cruise. “We think it’s important that the College keeps encouraging its four main themes, and we wanted to create an award that reflects that.”
To raise the money for the class gift, the 25 Student Council members sponsored a t-shirt sale for incoming Honors freshmen. The Student Council hopes to eventually earn enough to be able to offer multiple research awards each year.
Elisabeth Parent, a Vice President of HCSC, also played an instrumental role in the initiative, spending hours on mailings and organizing the t-shirt sale.
“I think philanthropy is important in this case, because it gives people the opportunity to do research they would otherwise think was out of their capacity,” she said. “It gives way to things that otherwise wouldn’t be achieved.”
The scholarship, which will be offered starting in the fall, will be given by an outside committee to an Honors junior based on their resume and research proposal.
Both Cruise and Parent stressed the importance of research in all fields of study.
Parent, an international studies and political science junior, said that the idea of research as a purely scientific pursuit is a widely-held misconception.
“Anyone can do research, whether they’re an anthropology major, or a political science major … it isn’t just for those who live in Hopkins,” she said.
Cruise, whose own research project on fairness and political obligation was recently published in “Purlieu: A Philosophical Journal,” believes that research encourages academic achievement.
“You start out in research and find this problem that you love, and then you research it, and maybe apply to grad school and continue researching this problem, and you end up becoming an expert and helping people,” he said. “So encouraging research now could create a researcher in the future who could use their skills and knowledge to help people.”
Cruise and Parent also hope that the scholarship will teach future Honors students the importance of service and giving back.
“When they see that we’re recognizing achievement, I hope that it will give them some sense of the importance of doing that,” said Cruise. “I don’t want to sound cliché, but it’s important for us to help each other out.”
Parent said she hopes the class gift will continue to inspire students to participate in future service projects.
“I think it’s important that we show that this was the class gift and that each student who bought a shirt was giving to this cause,” she said. “Being able to see what their money did is really great.”
Story by Elizabeth Clausen, LSU Honors College
For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831