HONORS 135: Ideas in Honors is a one-credit seminar course intended to introduce first-year Honors students to topic-driven scholarship at the advanced undergraduate level. Senior Honors students create their own topics and develop their courses with the support of an Honors Program advisor, and with the supervision of the program director. This year, we have eight sections taught by a group of extraordinary seniors. We would like to introduce each of them and share a bit about their courses, which will run this coming Fall 2023 semester. Visit the LSA Course Guide if you are interested in learning more about each course or to register! Honors 135 is open to all first year Honors students with the exception of section 002 taught by Luisa Sanchez being open to both first and second year students.

Pristina Koon is a senior from Burke, VA studying Linguistics & Asian Studies with a submajor in Southeast Asian studies. Pristina’s course, Language. Our greatest tool or deadliest obsession? will be centered around analyzing language as a common, quotidian phenomenon from an interdisciplinary standpoint. The topics covered will span language and its connection to identity; fictional languages; language policy; justice and truth; the biology of language; language and history; second language acquisition and bilingualism; and trends in mapping language.

Pristina was initially drawn to linguistics because of a book about Klingon. She has this to say about her upcoming course: “Majoring in a field I love has played such a large part in my college experience. Even if no one in this course decides to take a linguistics class (even though I hope they do!), I want this course to help freshmen realize that they can take anything that interests them and turn it into an academic passion - either to study at UMich or beyond. My goal is to have this course be a low-stakes opportunity for first-year students to engage with the research process! The final course project will likely be an exploratory project into any aspect of language they may be interested in.”

Zeynep Koseoglu is a senior from Izmir, Turkey studying International Studies, Psychology, and History of Art. Her Honors 135 course, Storytelling in International Affairs: How Conflict Comes into Narrative, aims to highlight the importance of narrative in shaping our experiences and understanding of intergroup tension and conflict, to be able to approach peacebuilding and conflict related research in a grounded manner. The course focuses on opposing narratives and their capability to incite further tension and potential violence. It intends to emphasize critical thinking skills, and research-based decision making, while giving students a taste of different facets of narrative building with respect to the good and the bad.

Zeynep previously interned for the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims through the Donia Human Rights Center. Following graduation, she hopes to pursue post-grad education in addition to pursuing research-based non-profit work. She plans to write an Honors thesis focusing on various degrees of collective healing after experiences of conflict and societal upheaval, as well as further relating this to measurements for any latency for further violence or chaos.

Tess Klygis, a senior from Hinsdale, IL studying Classical Civilizations with a minor in Law, Justice, & Social Change is teaching an Honors 135 course entitled The Art of Argumentation this fall. Tess plans for the course to be an interactive look at the construction and performance of compelling legal speeches from Cicero to the modern day! She has this to say about her course: “The inspiration for this topic is two-fold, coming from both a lecture series I had the privilege of attending lead by Dr. Andrew Sillett at the University of Oxford and from my experience competing in collegiate mock trial. Since Ancient History is typically not a large topic in high school, I hope to inspire a curiosity in Classics in some first-years, as well as show how applicable it can be in the modern age. My course will culminate in a sort of 'mock trial' where students will present their speeches using the rhetorical tactics we have learned. This aspect aims to help students gain confidence in their public speaking and also have a bit of fun!”

Tess has recently finished her second term at the University of Oxford at Hertford College where she has been doing relevant research and immersing herself in the English culture. Previously, Tess has worked as an Intern at the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office in Illinois, and soon will be heading to Washington D.C. as an Intern with the U.S. Department of State focusing on Digital Policy. She is also a proud member of the UMich Mock Trial team, which is currently ranked as one of the top 10 teams across the nation. After graduation, she hopes to pursue graduate work in the sociology of law or to begin working in the legal field before attending law school.

Eliana Kraut is a senior from Larchmont, NY studying Political Science with minors in Entrepreneurship and Screenwriting. Her course, Parasocial Relationships: Shaping the Media, Politics, and Entertainment of Our World will focus on what happens when people feel a strong one-way connection to someone they don't know (a celebrity, influencer, baseball team, political party, etc). The class will examine the different ways students are directly impacted by parasocial relationships, and encourage them to examine the role these play in society.

Eliana plans to write an Honors thesis about nonpolitical entertainment media (TV, movies, etc.) and how it impacts political decision making. She has studied abroad in two countries, England and The Netherlands, and has been exposed to different types of learning through these experiences. She plans to use the teaching styles she has experienced in England, The Netherlands, and the U.S. when teaching her own course this fall. Eliana has held internships in media, politics, and marketing that will contribute to this area of focus as well.

Anna Nachazel is a senior English, Creative Writing, and Literature major from Bloomfield Hills, MI. Her Honors 135 course entitled This Teenage Girl Will Save Us All! A Look at Young Adult Dystopian Novels will look at 6 different young adult (YA) dystopian novels that were released between 2006 and 2015, with a particular focus on The Hunger Games. Each class will focus on one particular theme where students will critically examine the ways it appears in each of the novels. For instance, family loyalty plays a very big role in Katniss Everdeen's (The Hunger Games) story as her love for her sister is what prompts her to volunteer for The Hunger Games. In Veronica Roth's Divergent (which is often criticized as a Hunger Games knock-off), however, we see the protagonist choose her own happiness over her family when she chooses to leave her faction. Many of these stories engage with similar questions but give the reader different answers. Anna has this to say about her course: “In this course, I hope that we can work to trace trends in this genre and consider the way that these works engage with each other both through parallels and divergences. Though YA fiction in general is often thought of as simplistic or silly, I think there is a lot to be gained from applying a critical lens to these books.”

Anna has previously worked as an intern for the Mike Morse Law Firm. When she graduates, she plans to continue her education either in a Creative Writing MFA program or an English Ph.D. program.

Rohit Ray, a senior Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major from Sterling Heights, MI plans to teach his Honors 135 course entitled, Diabetes & Health Disparities this fall semester. Rohit became interested in diabetes through his Honors thesis research on type 2 diabetes, which also became a topic of interest since diabetes runs in his family. Rohit has this to say about his upcoming course: “In this course, we will explore diabetes as an illness by examining its physiological basis, different types, risk factors, complications, and the state of current research and treatments. Then, using this background, we will delve into diabetes as a public health issue by analyzing the U.S. healthcare system, social determinants of health, and health inequity, focusing on these topics in the context of diabetes outcomes in underserved populations. Examining diabetes from both scientific and public health perspectives will develop a well-rounded understanding of the condition.”

Rohit has worked as an undergraduate research assistant at Reinert Lab, he was selected for the 2023 Honors Summer Fellowship, and also serves the Honors Community as an Honors Resident Advisor where he builds community among Honors students through a number of exciting events. After graduating, Rohit plans to continue working in research and also plans to apply to medical school.

Luisa Sanchez is a senior from Orlando, FL studying Latina/o Studies and Political Science. Luisa’s Honors 135 course, Yo Perreo Sola: Reggaetón in the 21st Century, will focus on the way in which artists in the genre of reggaetón address femininity and masculinity through their music. Mirroring her Honors thesis topic, Luisa hopes to share the music and history of one of her favorite genres, while understanding the nuances of the lyrics, music videos, and interviews of the artists that make the songs that are now being consumed worldwide. The class will analyze the music and lyrics of artists like Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, Young Miko, and more. Through this analysis, she hopes the class will be able to answer the following questions: Has femininity actually been accepted in reggaetón? Has masculinity in reggaetón been challenged?

In addition to her academic accomplishments, Luisa has interned with The Raben Group in the Government Affairs practice area since January 2023. During the summer of 2022, she worked on two political campaigns in Florida: as a campaign intern for Annette Taddeo's Gubernatorial campaign and as a National Democracy Fellow with the DCCC for the reelection campaign of Rep. Darren Soto. Additionally, she works as a Marketing and Media Assistant with Michigan News en Español.

Alex Yee is a senior studying Economics and Mathematical Economics from Chantilly, VA. Alex’s course entitled The Art of Short-form Economic Argument will introduce students to concepts he learned in his economic theory and econometrics sequences and will be structured primarily as a writing workshop. Alex has this to say about his course and it’s topics: “I chose short-form economic argument as the topic of my course for two main reasons: One, you can think about almost any subject through the lens of economics, and two, constructing a persuasive, well-supported economic argument for a general audience is a valuable skill. Economics is very much about crunching numbers and estimating economic relationships with statistical methods, but it also requires the ability to tell a good story. When I read The Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg, I don't just come away with a number for GDP growth and unemployment. Narratives attempting to explain these statistics, whether that's supply-chain issues, demand from a particular sector, or federal stimulus checks, makes a much greater impression and is much more difficult to create.”

Alex hopes that students with a variety of academic interests enroll in the course, even if the title may be more appealing to economics majors. Alex has been a Senior Editor for the Michigan Daily’s Opinion section since 2022. He is also an economic consulting summer intern with FTI Consulting. Upon graduation, Alex hopes to use his degree to enter the job market in the field of economics.