I Am Not That Smart


By Meg Hossler

How many times has someone asked you if you’re in the Honors Program? Take a moment and really think about it. Do you have a number? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been asked this question over a hundred times. Most of us have been asked questions like these since we were little. We grew up smart, and we were taught to take pride in our intelligence. I remember being the only person who could read in my preschool class, and my mom would brag to everyone that her child was so smart. I remember feeling happy that I could read better than everyone else. I also remember that, in elementary school, I would finish my work before everyone else. I would always get in trouble for talking, so my mom would send in extra worksheets for me to finish to distract me. I remember feeling proud of myself for excelling. When we were little kids, our fellow classmates didn’t seem to care that we were smarter. We were still invited to their birthday parties, and they still picked us for their kickball teams at recess. Now I’m grown up, and I wish people wouldn’t think I’m so smart. I used to take pride in my intelligence, and now I find it bringing me more misery than happiness. If you’re an Honors student, you might see where I’m coming from, if not, let me explain.

In the three years I have spent at UWF, I think the only thing my fellow classmates have actually learned about me is that I’m in the Honors Program. At first, I enjoyed people knowing that I was in Honors, but that feeling eventually faded. I learned quickly that being smart in college was not the same as being smart in grade school. Once people find  out I’m in Honors, they always have a snarky comment, like, “Wow, everything must be so easy for you since you’re so smart.” At first, I didn’t let this bother me, but, after three years of your classmates making assumptions about who you are based on one fact, it gets old. Instead of these people learning more about me, they assume that, since I’m in the Honors Program, I think of myself as better than them, and that I don’t have time for fun due to studying. All of my classmates have put me on a pedestal that I didn’t even ask them to put me on. Once other students learn that I’m in Honors, they don’t want to invite me to their birthday parties like the kids I grew up with.

Instead, my classmates treat me like I’m only a brain. They forget that I have a soul, a life, and a heart. My classmates proceed to make statements that just a brain would like to hear. Here is a list of my favorite ones- maybe you’ve heard some of them:

  • “When did you start preparing for college? When you were 3 years old?”
  • “What are you going to do over the summer? Oh, I know you’re going to do school work all summer.”
  • “I bet you make 100 on every test.”
  • And, my ultimate favorite, but I should provide some background before I state the quote. Some fellow students had asked me how I studied, so I proceeded to tell them that I start studying one week before the test. When I get to the end of the week, I realize that I remember more than I thought I knew. I thought this was a good response, and it would help them study, but I was wrong. To this they responded, “Wow, it must be so nice that everything is so easy for you.”

Now, to answer some of these questions, so people can learn that I am not just a brain. My life consists of more than just studying, and everything is not easy for me. To begin with, I didn’t even want to go to a four-year school. I wanted a way to get a degree quickly and get into the field of nursing as fast as possible. My mom’s best friend, who is a nurse, told me I had  to go to a four-year school to become a nurse. I didn’t do any other research, because I believed her. Only after starting nursing school this year did I find out that I  could have gone to a two-year school to become a registered nurse. Going to college and joining an Honors program were  not my biggest concerns after graduating high school, and I would have skipped all of it if I knew then what I know now. I am literally only in college right now because I was lied to. Second, everything is not, “so easy for me.” Being smart has never been something easy for me. Being good at anything has never been something easy for me. I have always worked harder than everyone I know to be smart and excel in what I do, and it’s quite frustrating. In both academics and sports, I have put in more effort than most to get where I am. My little sister is one of those people with natural talent. Growing up, I always worked hard for everything, and when my sister started following in my footsteps, I thought things would be difficult for her too. Instead, she was a natural softball player without even practicing while I spent countless extra hours on the field trying to master the sport. She could study the night before the test and ace it while I had to study a week in advance just to make a B. So in response to everyone who thinks everything is easy for me, it’s not. Everything is tremendously difficult for me, but I work hard to do well. I don’t only study. I actually enjoy doing other human things, like any other human. What I find most distressing about being an Honors student is that a majority of my classmates learn about my brain, and they never learn about my heart and soul. I’m almost 100% positive that if you asked any of my classmates the things I do besides school, they wouldn’t be able to tell you. My classmates haven’t taken the time to get to know me.

But if they did, they would learn that I am a concert junkie. In high school, I used to go to 3-6 concerts a month.  I would probably still attend concerts  now, but Pensacola doesn’t support that kind of lifestyle. They would learn that I suffer from a mental illness, that every day is a struggle, and that  I’ve learned to not let the sadness win. They would learn that I am a wander luster, and I take advantage of any chance to travel. They would learn that I have a jean jacket full of patches from all of places I’ve been. They would learn that I’m a big sister, and that being a big sister holds so much more importance to me than being smart does. They would learn that I am loud, weird, and outgoing, rather than the quiet, shy, person I portray in the classroom. They would learn that I have a tattoo, and that I plan on getting at least 3 more. Finally, they would see that I’m not just a brain, but that I’m a free-spirited person who does more than just stick her head in books. They would see that I have feelings. They would invite me to their birthday parties if they only knew how cool I am.


Everything You Need to Know About Your Core 1 Representatives

By Jade Jacobs

Last week, Carder Dilger, Brett Farran and Sierra Hobbs were elected the three Honors Core 1 Representatives for Fall 2016.

This semester, they will serve as the liaisons connecting the Honors leaders and advisers to the freshman student body. Their duties include attending Council and presenting information from the committees to the Core 1 students along with aiding PR Chair Leonie Dupuis with promoting events and updates within the Honors program.

The three representatives are eager to share a little about themselves and encourage their classmates to become familiar with who they are, as they are excited to fill this leadership role.

Carder Dilger

Carder D.

Carder is a computer and electrical engineering major from Burbank, California, though he has lived in the Pensacola area for the last few years. He has a wide range of interests, with music being near the top of the list. Carder considers music a large part of his life and enjoys listening to, playing, and learning more about various genres. He plays both the bass and guitar, but most enjoys immersing himself in different types of music to learn more about them. Another of Carder’s hobbies is to learn as many new things as possible to improve his life skills and himself as a person. He fully embraces the mantra that you truly do learn something new every day.

In Honors, Carder is looking forward to getting involved in leadership roles because he wants to improve his public speaking. He sees his new position in Core 1 as good practice for building that skill. He believes it will help him secure more leadership positions in the future.

One goal Carder has as Core 1 Representative is to help create a feeling of unity among the Honors freshmen. He feels that the class is all going through the same experience together and would like to promote the dynamic that everyone is here for each other.

Outside of Honors, Carder plans to be involved in Cybersecurity organizations and Active Minds, along with potentially starting a new club focusing on playing and/or appreciating music.

On his bucket list is traveling to outer space.

Brett Farran

Brett F.

Brett is an environmental science major from Tallahassee, Florida. Brett was a rower in high school, and he continues to stay involved in activities that keep him moving.

His hobbies include running and binge watching Amazon Prime movies and series because exercising is much more manageable when you know you can relax and watch four seasons of your favorite show back-to-back.

In Honors, Brett hopes to attend an Honors conference to network and meet Honors students from other schools. He says experiencing a conference firsthand will help him be confident and prepared when it’s his turn to present. Following in the footsteps of last year’s Core 1 Representatives, Brett is considering presenting on his experience in the leadership role as a freshman at the Florida Collegiate Honors Conference. His goal as a Core 1 Representative is to motivate his fellow freshmen to be more involved in the Honors Program and in student organizations on campus.

In his spare time, Brett plans on being active in handball, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, SCUBA club and Marine Ecology Research Society.

His bucket list includes going glacial kayaking in Greenland.

Sierra Hobbs

Sierra H.

Sierra is a biology/environmental science major from the Pensacola area. Her passions include acting and theatre, baking delicious culinary delights and binge watching Netflix, especially Broadway musicals. If you need someone to duet Hamilton or Moulin Rouge to, she’s your girl. Who knows, there might even be cookies involved!

As a student in the Honors Program, Sierra is looking forward to presenting at conferences. She has presented at science-based symposiums and conferences in the past, and is excited to get involved with the honors version. Sierra is excited to attend Honors Retreat, a two-day leadership and team building trip that will take place in early October. Her goal as Core 1 Representative is to give everyone the opportunity to have someone to relate to in order to unite the class as a whole.

When she isn’t working with Honors, Sierra will be involved with handball, SCUBA club, Student Environmental Action Society and garden club. She aims to be a very active, involved and well-rounded student and wants to encourage others to do the same.

One thing she wants to cross off her bucket list is climbing Mount Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

Honors Alumna Inspires Honors Class of 2020 with Speech about Failure


By Abigail Megginson

Former Honors student and current employment attorney, Holly Griffin, spoke to the 2020 class of Honors students August 19, Friday night, at Induction. Her main theme was failure.

However, Griffin is anything but a failure. She graduated from the Kugelman Honors Program in 2008, majoring in pre-law, political science and international relations with a history minor. Afterward, she attended law school at Florida State University. Now, she works at a law firm in West Palm Beach handling employment cases where she represents and provides consultations for businesses, a job she loves.

Holly Griffin speaks to Honors freshman and their families in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

Her speech to Honors students Friday evening featured anecdotes about her failures and how they shaped her character and prepared her for her career. Many of them were stories from her time at the University of West Florida.

Griffin chose UWF because she wanted to be actively engaged on campus.

“I had the option of being a big fish in a small pond, UWF, or a small fish in a big pond, FSU, and ultimately I chose UWF for that reason along with the small class sizes and me being a Pace Scholar,” Griffin said.

As for the Honors program, she said her high school IB courses inspired her to continue academic excellence in college. She cited the Honors seminars as one of her favorite benefits of the program. Two of them made her favorites list: Politics in the Hebrew Bible and Spy Novels.

Today, Griffin says the Honors program sharpened her critical thinking skills, which are essential for her current work as an attorney.

“The Honors program also taught me to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself, and that we should always be looking for opportunities to grow and challenge ourselves.”

When she wasn’t studying, Griffin made use of her time in Honors Council, the student ambassador program, Relay for Life, and the Student Government Association.

Griffin exemplified the typical Honors student. She was incredibly involved, academically minded and Type A. When she found out she had lost the SGA presidential race, she felt like she had failed. It was DL who reminded her that failure is only an opportunity to look for more opportunity to grow and learn.

“Everyone needs to find out what failure means, especially in college,” Griffin noted.


Holly Griffin, Greg Tomso and Robin Jones at Honors Induction.

Failure of a different kind faced Griffin at law school. At the end of her first semester of law school, she considered quitting. Not knowing if it was the right choice for her, she consulted mentors from her time in Honors who suggested she give it one more semester. Griffin stuck with law school and graduated in 2011 with no regrets.

The advice she gives to current Honors students can be used both in college and for a professional job post-graduation.

“Take the chances and try something, even if you don’t know if you’ll do well. Don’t let uncertainty keep you from success.”

Griffin also reminds students to keep in touch with your mentors, even after college. After all, it was a Christmas card she sent to DL that was the catalyst for her speaking engagement to the class of 2020 for Honors Induction.