Students bask in honor's light

by Apr 28, 2008 12:00 am

Hundreds of people filled San Jose State's Event Center on Friday evening, but not to see a concert or a basketball game.

Instead, students, faculty and friends and family gathered to celebrate some of the best and brightest of SJSU at the 46th annual Honors Convocation.

Charles Whitcomb, vice provost for Academic Administration and Personnel at SJSU, described the event as "an opportunity . to really see their daughters and sons recognized for their academic achievements."

The first students to be honored were those who qualified as dean's scholars by earning a 3.65 GPA or higher at SJSU in at least two contiguous semesters of the three semesters prior to Friday's celebration.

Katy Griffin, a senior engineering major, said she had never been to the Honors Convocation before and that it felt great to be honored after putting in 70 to 80 hours of school work each week.

Close to 2,000 of SJSU's 23,000 undergraduates received the dean's scholar award and were presented to the audience in groups by the dean of their respective colleges.

Alix Perez, a junior psychology major, said she did not think she would be at the Honors Convocation.

"I've never been, like, a hard-core studier," Perez said, "but last semester I was always hitting the books because I love my major and wanted to learn more."

The second category of student honorees was president's scholars.

Only 235 students earned this title, which means they earned a 4.0 GPA at SJSU in at least two consecutive semesters.

Each president's scholar was recognized by announcing his or her name and major to the audience and shaking hands with President Don Kassing before exiting the stage.

Suzy Woolhouse, a senior environmental studies major and one of the 235 students, had little to say about the challenges of achieving a perfect GPA and more about what helped her get them.

"The teachers that I've had so far have really rocked," Woolhouse said, "and all my classes have been really fun.

"I don't really go out and party," Woolhouse added.

Will Russell, an SJSU environmental studies lecturer, wrote in an e-mail that "because of her unusual dedication and ability, in many ways Suzy Woolhouse resembles a graduate student more than the undergraduate that she is."

Woolhouse said she participated in a study last summer in the redwood forests of Northern California, which involved long days of hiking without established trails.

Russell said that next to the graduate student who used the study as her thesis, Suzy was "the most dedicated member of the team" and that he was struck by her "perpetual enthusiasm and cheerfulness."

Woolhouse said she put in a lot of tiring work over the summer but that it was worth it because it helped her gain a focus for her future.

"It was a life-changing experience, as cheesy as that sounds," she said.

Woolhouse said she plans to attend graduate school and eventually use her environmental studies degree to work in restoration.

"I'll basically be restoring a natural area, like a forest or wetland or something that's been degraded, as best as possible to its natural state," she said. "It's pretty nerdy."

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