Point Park University Honors Program: Together Apart, Only a Virtual Meeting Away Wednesday, April 15, 2020
“We are so thankful that all of our graduating seniors chose Point Park University out of all of the higher education institutions in the world. We are honored to have such talented and dedicated students that invest in their futures and the futures of their classmates. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish in their futures!”
There is a first time for everything as many college and university organizations attempt to navigate togetherness in an absolute online environment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, April 6, the Honors Student Organization hosted a virtual meeting, a first for the student group.
“We wanted to make sure that we congratulated our seniors as we always do at our final meeting of the semester. It is very important to me as the adviser because they work so hard inside and outside their classrooms,” said Helen Fallon, M.A., professor of journalism and director of Point Park's Honors Program. “We have managed to maintain contact in many ways with our honors students as they finish out this unusual semester. This just seemed to be natural.”
Thirty-four honors students ranging from freshmen to those graduating seniors attended the virtual meeting. Jonas Prida, Ph.D., assistant provost, Barbara Hipp, M.A., alumni engagement officer, and Colin Parrish, honors program graduate assistant, offered their congratulations to seniors, recapped the honors events of the year and more.
“Honors students represent the best that Point Park has to offer. It has been great to show up to an honors meeting, sit at a table with a group of students whom I have never met, and immediately be able to have a conversation about theatre, science and art,” said Prida. “Although COVID-19 brought our physical meetings to an abrupt end, the quick transition to virtual meetings allowed us to capture some sense of what our previous meetings were like.”
Led by Kelsey Wolfe, HSO president and senior public relations and advertising major, the virtual meeting began with the question “How are you quarantining?” through an interactive PowerPoint. The honors office all-student staff — Rosalie Anthony, Kate Griffith, Parrish and Wolfe — and Fallon provided photos depicting their daily routines under stay-at-home orders. Members recounted their days in a public chat.
Wolfe reflected on the HSO meetings, fundraisers, events and activities throughout the academic year. Popular mentions in the group chat included coming to campus early for Welcome to Honors Week, staffing a water station for Pittsburgh’s annual Great Race, honors trips to Washington, D.C., and New York City, and an annual program with the Veterans Breakfast Club.
“Being both a senior and the current HSO president, this meeting was an important one for me and held a really special place in my heart. I was able to really thank our mentors, our executive board and so many others who put their all into HSO over the past two semesters,” Wolfe said. “I'm grateful for everything this organization and program has done for me, and I'm glad I got to have a little send off."
Additionally, Hipp joined the presentation to explain how the alumni association, which includes many honors alumni on its board, is interested in and wants to work with current students.
“We are so thankful that all of our graduating seniors chose Point Park University out of all of the higher education institutions in the world," said Hipp. "We are honored to have such talented and dedicated students that invest in their futures and the futures of their classmates. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish in their futures!”
Fallon, who is stepping down as Honors Program director at the end of this academic year, is working on the creation of an honors affinity group with Hipp.
“I have been very fortunate to work with such amazing students for the past 10 years,” Fallon said. “They make a difference in our classrooms, our performance spaces and outside of campus every day. I know I will continue to learn about their amazing work and lives for years to come.”
Text and photo collage provided by Colin Parrish