Sarah Timmons || The Honors College
Meet Sarah Timmons, the next person in our #FirstYearFeature series. Sarah is the First-Year Experience Coordinator, Honors Book Club Coordinator, a Senior Academic Advisor, and the Staff Head of Bell House in the Honors College.
“Current students can apply to the honors college at any point in their college career, but earlier is better so that students have more time to complete honors course work requirements before graduation. It is a great idea for any student at Texas Tech to join the Honors College, because our classes are smaller, and our professors are fantastic professors that definitely care about teaching. The personalized attention is what we do really well here in the college.” –Sarah Timmons
Q: What services does your office have for First Year Students at Texas Tech University?
Here in Honors, we actually have (I’d like to think) a very strong First-Year Experience program in which we require all of our entering Honors freshmen to enroll each fall.
As part of the FYE Program, Honors students take one of our diverse and engaging FYE courses, each taught by a fantastic professor in a small group setting of 18-20 students. They will also gain a built-in community through an attached Learning Community Group (LCG), taught by two upper-classmen who function as peer Mentors in guiding their students though the first semester adjustment period and in integrating them fully into the Honors and Texas Tech communities.
FYE Mentors assist their students with finding and utilizing campus resources and introducing them to the many involvement and enrichment opportunities within Honors. Moreover, the LCG is a safe space in which to introduce the vocabularies of difference and multiplicity, to engage in difficult dialogues with other students in their very first semester, so that they can continue to hone, develop, and refine their communications skills during their college careers. The faculty- and Mentor-led discussions aim at giving students the vocabulary needed to deal with issues they will face in a diverse and nuanced global society with courage and integrity.
I believe our FYE program is special because of our employment of the student Mentors (a team of between 45 and 50 each year), who function as peer role models, friends, guides, and resources for our freshmen. And we also hear from students who’ve gone through the FYE program that the development of community and the relationships formed in the FYE/LCG classes are key to their feeling comfortable and capable of academic success and personal growth here. We also want to move beyond the traditional bounds of many first-year student programs in focusing not only on tools to ensure a successful adjustment from high school to college, but on engagement with the sorts of questions and conversations that happen more and more frequently in a diverse global society, where we are all interdependent and where understanding of and generosity for each other is crucial. These difficult dialogues are a key feature in our 2016 FYE program. We offer/mandate the Honors FYE Program for all entering members of the Honors College each year. In the LCG curriculum, we also acquaint all new students with ways they can invest in Honors and in the wider university by becoming involved in organizations and taking leadership roles everywhere on campus.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love so much about my job, but all of the things I love begin with the amazing students with whom I work. I love meeting prospective students as of Texas Tech, then seeing them come to RRO and decide which Honors FYE they’ll take in their first semester, advising them through their undergraduate careers, helping them map out their coming years, watching them come into their own as Honors student leaders, reading and discussing with them in the Honors Book Club or cheering them on at Bell House events, rejoicing with them when they are accepted into graduate or professional programs, and congratulating them when they walk across the stage at the Honors College Medallion ceremony right before gradation. Getting to know these incredible students and being involved in their lives during the time they are at Tech is priceless, inspiring, and immensely impactful.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Texas Tech and why?
My favorite thing about Texas Tech is the beauty of our campus. I expect that it takes many of our students by surprise the first time they visit.
Q: What is your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite place on campus are the stacks in the library. I think I could live there indefinitely (if someone would bring me food).
Q: What advice would you give first year students?
It’s difficult to narrow down my advice to first-year students to just one thing alone; there are so many things I would want to say. Among them would be, “Don’t walk into a mistake knowingly; if you’re aware beforehand that an action you’re about to take is a bad idea which will have negative consequences, it’s simple: don’t do that. But for those mistakes you can’t anticipate, don’t stress out about your failures. Accepting the fact that you’re not perfect, that you still (and always will) have things to learn, will make your future a much easier place to live in. When I look back now on the days that I regret most, those days are not the ones on which I got a C on a paper, or received a rejection letter from a program or job I wanted to get into really badly. The days I remember still, now, as failures, are the days on which I spoke an unkindness to someone else, or said something without fully thinking about its implications. They are the days I wish I could take back. So I would just encourage you to develop patterns of thought and of action now (which will become habits of thought and of behavior in the future) that will make you the person you want to see yourself become. That’s what a university education should do for you, after all: make you into the person you’re going to be (a person you respect and admire), not just prepare you for the career you’re going to pursue.”
Q: Looking back to your first year, what would you change? What would you do the same?
If I could re-do my first year here at Tech, I would follow Traffic and Parking regulations more faithfully. (See previous note about walking into mistakes knowingly.) After paying three tickets in my first semester, I learned that those guys are not playing around. I would also make the effort to step outside of my comfort zone and become involved in campus organizations earlier on; those involvements and the attendant relationships built are what make our college experience richer and make this feel more like a place of belonging. The thing I would do the same is to buy an academic planner on the first day of classes and write in all of my tests, papers, quizzes, and assignments: deliberate and effective time management is key to making the first semester (and every semester afterward) less harried and more successful.
Q: What is your favorite place to eat in Lubbock?
My favorite place to eat in Lubbock is, hands down, Sazon, which is housed in The Arrogant Texan on University, right across from campus. Best. Burritos. Ever.
Q: What are some hobbies you have?
I don’t have a ton of spare time in which to indulge my hobbies, as mother of an extremely active and exuberant four-year-old, but I do still make handmade jewelry, which I sell (occasionally) on Etsy. Also, I read constantly, both for my own enjoyment and as coordinator of the Honors Book Club, which I started in 2009. I love British classics and mysteries best; the effervescent Ms. Austen is my very favorite.
Q: What is your favorite Tech Tradition?
Hmmm, I don’t know if I have a favorite recognized “tradition,” but as a student, I did love attending football games. I’m not really a huge football fan generally, but I loved the communal excitement and the sense that we were all, in the moments we cheered for the team and shouted to the fight song, part of something bigger than ourselves. Now, my favorite thing is walking around campus in the spring, enjoying the warm weather, the blaze of tulips, and again, the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself.
More about the Honors College:
Honors College students have the unique advantage of experiencing a small, intellectually and socially vibrant environment while having access to the vast resources of the major research university at TTU. Honors College students simultaneously benefit from being with others of the same intellectual preparation and commitment while enjoying the advantages of a university environment actively engaged in exploring all areas of human interest and concern.
All students who are admitted to Texas Tech and the Honors College also enroll in a disciplinary college and pursue one or more of the 150+ available majors and concentrations, including one major housed within the Honors College, Honors Arts and Letters. Their education is the result of the integration of all colleges at TTU, including the Honors College, that cultivate the talents and interests of Honors College students and endeavor to meet their changing needs as they develop academically and socially.