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Honors projects provide new opportunities

Katherine Kim and her Vietnamese classmate, Nan Dinh pose for a photo during the Nazan Summer Japanese Program graduation day. (Photo submitted by Katherine Kim)

Noah Turner completed a research paper that helped lead to a full ride in a doctoral program at Michigan State. Katherine Kim created a program on campus to help international students with basic necessities. These were honors projects that Turner and Kim said helped shape their future. Both are graduating in May with the other 35 honors college graduates.

Turner, senior criminal justice major and Kim, senior international studies major, are graduating from UCM through the Honors College program, where they were provided unique opportunities that go beyond the classroom for their major.

Turner said to him, the Honors College is an opportunity to take that extra step to distinguish yourself as a student.

Noah Turner presents his McNair project at the McNair Heartland Conference last year.
(Photo submitted by Noah Turner)

“So often, students with phenomenal skill sets and interests are not provided the chance to manifest those interests and apply those skill sets,” he said. “The Honors College, rather, integrates your interest into your coursework, particularly with the honors project, and gives those students willing to take that extra step a chance to do so.”

Turner said his honors project about was a research study examining mental health courts in the area.

“I wanted to analyze how the staff members of mental health courts perceived the work they do on a daily basis and gain their opinions on the future of mental health courts,” he said. “I also wanted to highlight the issues which mental health court staff are consistently running into and make recommendations for potential areas of improvement.”

Turner said to do this, he interviewed staff at two different mental health courts, one at a rural area and one at an urban area, and compared their perceptions.

“We found that funding and negative stigma were the two largest obstacles that the (courts) were battling with,” Turner said.

Turner said they discovered the urban mental health courts had more community resources than the rural ones.

Noah Turner presents his honors project.
(Photo submitted by Noah Turner)

“Overall, both courts had a very positive outlook on the future of (courts), and advocate for more federal funding to be allocated for the implementation and support of this branch of treatment courts,” Tuner said.

Turner said this honors project provided him his first ever research experience.

“During my freshman year at UCM, my focus became fixated on obtaining my Ph.D. in criminal justice,” he said. “However, I had no research experience and no idea where to begin. With the guidance of the Honors College, I was able to start a research project with a professor and see it to completion.”

Tuner said by doing this, he and his mentor have an article under review at a criminology journal and he was offered a full scholarship to Michigan State University’s doctoral program in criminal justice.

“However, none of this would have happened had I not completed that first research project with the help of the Honors College.”

Turner said UCM has a cooperative and supportive culture on campus.

“The idea that I, as an undergraduate student with no research experience, could approach a professor…and ask to help them with a research study and them say, ‘Yes,’ is invaluable in my opinion,” he said. “They truly care about my success and attempt to help in any way possible.”

Kim has ambitions to help international students in her future career. Through the Honors College, Kim received the funding to study abroad in Japan. She said the city she wanted to go to wasn’t partnered with UCM and the Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity didn’t have a grant, but the Honors College did.

“I completely relied on my funding from the Honors College to study abroad last summer,” she said.

Katherine Kim posing in front of Torii Gates in the Kenrokuen Garden.
(Photo submitted by Katherine Kim)

Kim said she was recently accepted to go to Japan through a program called Japan Exchange and Teaching.

“I will move to Japan this summer and start teaching English there as an assistant language teacher for at least a year,” she said. “I picked the competitive Japanese Language Program because I really wanted to have the full learning experience and really get far ahead in Japanese as I could. It was so intense and so fun and everyone would only speak Japanese to international students, which is great.”

Kim has helped international students already by creating a program here at UCM called “From My World to Yours,” a donation project to assist international students when they arrive on campus. They take the donated items, clean them and give them to international students in need.

Kim said she started the program by posting on Facebook, asking people to donate their unwanted things to international students, and the program grew by word of mouth.

“Now when international students arrive, they’ll come in and say ‘Are you Katy? My friend from university told me I have to find you and get free stuff.’ I had no idea the big impact it would have.”

Kim said her career is to help international students on American campuses, to help cultural conflict and helping people navigate into a new culture.

“I would just love to work on campus somewhere here and help foster intercultural relations between the domestic students and international students, help them interact with each other and identify the problems and work to create practical solutions. That’s really my dream job.”

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