Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mariah Mayhugh, vice president of the Alpha Gamma Alpha Chapter at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado. It originally appeared on her “College Navigation” blog and is republished here with her permission.
My PTK chapter, Alpha Gamma Alpha, was lucky enough to be able to attend Honors Institute this year, which was amazing. I honestly went into it with zero expectations because I knew it was going to be nothing like Catalyst but still equally as awesome. And I was right!
They sure did cram a lot into four days, and it is overwhelming to try to put it all into one blog post, but some of the biggest surprises were:
How much I loved dorm living. We stayed at the San Diego State University dorms, which I was hesitant about at first, but I loved it. My roommate was really cool — she was from Denver, Colorado, which is not far from Colorado Springs (where I live), so there was common ground there and we got along really well.
Since I have lived at home my whole life, it was incredible to experience dorm living. I know within the next few years I will probably move out, even if I don’t live in a dorm when I transfer. The experience that Honors Institute gave me makes me excited for that part of my future, instead of nervous. I loved the feeling of having friends right next door or being able to take the elevator down to the fourth floor for a game night.
How many new friends I made. While I did meet new friends at Catalyst, there were close to 4,000 students there, compared to the roughly 500 students at Honors Institute. At Catalyst, we were also all staying at various hotels, whereas here, we were all under one roof. I made some really good new friendships that I know will last a lifetime.
Between the people I met in my seminar group (Group 28 is the best!) to three girls I basically hung out with all week, I will not only cherish the memories forever but will look forward to making new ones — even though we are all from different states!
How much I learned. Honors Institute was meant to inspire and teach us new ways to go about our Honors in Action Project. I am now bursting with ideas, and I can’t wait to get to work on Alpha Gamma Alpha’s project for this year! I only joined PTK last November, so I didn’t really know where to begin with our HIA project or how to get started. Now, though, I am so excited and I learned some great ways to put together a fantastic project.
The week was also packed with amazing speakers, my favorite of whom was Sue Reynolds, a woman who once weighed over 300 pounds but is now a world-class triathlete — and she’s over 60 years old! My favorite phrase she taught us was, “Go away fear, go away pride,” because those are two of the things that often stop us from reaching our goals. I have a lot of secret dreams and goals that I think I am nearly ready to share because Sue has inspired me to chase them, no matter how big or silly they may seem.
Of course, our free time was also tons of fun. Tuesday night we went to Mission Beach, which was where I met three people I now consider my closest friends. We had a blast swimming in the ocean even though it was freezing (#livingourbestlife), eating ice cream on the boardwalk, and attending the carnival. While I didn’t ride the roller coaster, I loved the carousel and the bumper cars.
One of my new friends, her advisor, and my chapter also toured the USS Midway on our last day. It was humbling to hear of 19-year-old soldiers who gave up everything to fight for our country. More than once the live audio, the replicas, and the preserved planes brought tears to my eyes.
One last thing I got to do at Honors Institute was try In-N-Out Burger for the first time! My parents had raved about it for as long as I can remember, and I finally tried it. Just for some background, I never order burgers — not at a “sit down” restaurant or at a fast food place. But In-N-Out burgers were fantastic! In my opinion — much like Honors Institute itself — it lived up to the hype.