Austin on a mission trip to Haiti the summer of 2016, celebrating the 10th birthday of a new friend, Bigenson.
By Abbie Kellett
I sat down with Austin Van Norman to discuss his experiences so far as a new addition to the Kugelman Honors Program.
Austin is from Pace, Florida, with enough credits to qualify as a sophomore despite this being his first year in college. He is majoring in global marketing, and strives to one day “make lots of money from rich people.”
When asked why he chose the University of West Florida and the Kugelman Honors Program, he responded, “The location is literally ideal. I love Pensacola and this general area. Being an honors student would give me a better experience here (UWF) than being a normal student and having to pay a lot more for it somewhere else.”
Those of us who were present during Honors orientation would recognize Austin from his role as Tomso’s replacement as “supreme ruler” of the egg challenge. To those unfamiliar, this challenge required groups to create a protective casing for an egg using such simple materials as a paper bag, Play-Dough and tape. Austin explained his adopted role as well as his initial response to being called out by one of the Honor’s faculty.
“I was given the supreme control over deciding whether or not the egg was cracked or worthy of progressing to next round. I’m definitely very extroverted, so I don’t have a problem speaking in front of people. When he first pointed me out, I was like ‘oh crap I’m in trouble, I shouldn’t have said anything’ .”
While he has had little interaction with Tomso outside of the impromptu orientation meeting, Austin had only positive words for DL, his Core I professor for the semester.
“I definitely think that I’m gonna enjoy the class with DL. That’s the kind of teacher I want to have.”
As confident as Austin is, he too had some fears about coming to college for the first time. He revealed an unexpected, but definitely substantiated, concern: not living on campus. He feared his lack of proximity to the campus would hinder his connection to the school and threaten the “college experience” he expected. However, he assured me that his desire to join Greek life has garnered him a great deal of support and lessened his fears substantially.
Of those men he has met, Austin stated, “They have been very accepting. Helping me find my classes and introducing me to their brothers. They don’t even know if I’m gonna rush, but they’re treating me like a person. I’ve really been impressed.”
As honors students, we all take great pride in our leadership abilities, which, for some of us, span through numerous channels. Austin is looking forward to becoming a leader in his local Sunday school class at church, and perhaps eventually, a leader of a church mission trip. With a passion for cars, Austin expressed his desire to become involved with and eventually plan events for a car club.
Interviewing Austin was so enjoyable, each of us going off topic and having a great conversation. I would encourage honors students to introduce themselves to Austin and others in the program. You can find Austin either on campus or working at his favorite place, Chik-Fil-A.