Each student has their own unique journey to become part of the Honors College. Sometimes, parents and family join their students and get involved in the college in their own way.
After her son Zac began his career at the Honors College in the fall of 2016, Kathy Pinard became a member of the Parent and Family Leadership Circle in order to be more connected to his experience. Now, four years later, she’s a member of the Board of Regents – the Honors College’s leadership advisory board – as well as a parent of a soon-to-be Honors College alum.
Kathy was herself a member of the honors program during her time at Oregon State. “That program had a few similarities to the Honors College, such as colloquia and thesis requirements,” Kathy says, “so I was vaguely familiar with the concept.
“I was very excited for Zac to attend OSU and amazed at how the Honors College had grown,” Kathy says. During her time as a student, the honors program was much smaller than the 1500 current honors students and did not confer Honors Baccalaureate degrees. “I was so impressed by the Honors College that I wanted to know more about it and be involved in some way.”
The Honors College offers a number of different avenues for parent and family involvement. The Parent and Family Leadership Circle (PLC) is made up of the family members of honors students who want to become more engaged with Oregon State and the Honors College student experience. Members of the PLC meet quarterly with Honors College and Oregon State leadership to learn more about the university, network with other honors family members and provide feedback about the family experience. Members also contribute to differential tuition scholarships, ensuring that all qualified students can fully participate in the honors experience.
“When I learned of the Parent Leadership Circle it seemed like the perfect vehicle. And an extra bonus was having a good excuse to be on campus and visit Zac every term!” Kathy says.
Kathy quickly became an asset to the PLC, even going so far as to host Honors College Send-Off events at her home in California. “One couple and I cohosted send-off events for Bay Area students entering the Honors College. These events were held in our homes for students and their parents,” Kathy says. “It was a great opportunity for them to meet each other and hear about both the Honors College and OSU.”
When her son Zac was preparing to graduate, Kathy wanted to find a way to stay involved in the Honors College. “I spoke with Dean Toni Doolen; she told me more about the Board of Regents and offered me a position. I was happy to accept.”
The Board of Regents is the development advisory group of the Honors College. Distinguished alumni and friends of Oregon State join the executive staff of the Honors College in promoting the long-term success and sustainability of the Honors College; working as external advocates; advising on fundraising strategies, opportunities and projects; and contributing to the HC’s long-term goals and stability.
“I’ve only attended one meeting so far, so I’m still learning about the board and my role. The information shared is more detailed than with the PLC, including more long-term strategy and financial discussions,” Kathy says. “We participated in evaluating top applicant essays, which was a daunting task! It was very hard to choose the best one from such compelling essays.” Board members help select a “best” essay from Honors College applications each year, and the winner is recognized at the annual New Student Induction ceremony in the fall.
Like many parents, Kathy had a difficult time sending her student off to college. Knowing that Zac would have the Honors College to support him, though, made the transition easier for her. Through her involvement in the PLC, Kathy was able to see the dedication faculty and staff brought to their roles – dedication that helps students like Zac to grow and thrive in the college.
“Meeting some faculty members, I was impressed with their energy and how much they enjoyed working with Honors College students. HC staff members clearly care not just about the academics, but also about the emotional wellbeing of the students,” Kathy says.
“What stands out to me is how they make such a personal connection with the students. It is amazing how in touch they are when they have so many students to support.”
Reflecting on her experience as an involved parent and supporter in the Honors College, Kathy has one simple piece of advice for those considering whether they should get involved: “Do it!”
“It was a great experience for me,” Kathy says. “I certainly felt more in touch with what was going on in the Honors College and was able to have more meaningful conversations with my son about his participation and experiences.”
“It was rewarding to play even a small part in the continuing evolution of the Honors College and to re-establish my connection to Oregon State,” Kathy says.
For more information about the HC Parent and Family Leadership Circle, visit https://honors.oregonstate.edu/honors-college-parent-and-family-leadership-circle.