Why you should join the Honors program

By Janelle Harb


As a student at Canisius College, we are already part of an elite group of esteemed students and alums.  However, there are some students that are a part of an even more select group: the All-College Honors Program.  

In general, the Honors program is offered to students who have excelled in high school, by being within the top 10 percent of their high school rank, holding an above 3.8 GPA, 1300 SAT, or 28 ACT, and then choosing to accept the offer to join the program before the start of their freshman year.  

However, students currently enrolled at Canisius who were not initially invited into the program can apply no later than their second semester, if they received a 3.75 GPA in their first semester.  I think you need to seize the opportunity to join this program if you are able to, and here’s why.  

Canisius is already home to many communities and sub-communities, such as the various clubs and organizations, which we pride ourselves on.  The Honors program we have here at this institution is no exception, as it is home to a great number of brilliant students on campus who all share the same passion for learning and education.  

Being a part of the Honors program, I have been able to experience a number of incredible opportunities that I would’ve never known otherwise.  One of the yearly trips that Honors helps to sponsor every year is to Stratford, Ontario to see a play or musical during its festival season.  The small chocolatier shop alone in the small town, is enough incentive to go on the trip, along with seeing an incredible production at a significantly lower cost, thanks to Honors.  

When I was able to go on the trip last year, the Director of the Honors program, Dr. Bruce Dierenfield, was able to arrange for two dancers from the musical, “Carousel,” which we were to see later that evening, to teach us a number from the show.  

As a former dancer and avid musical theatre enthusiast, I was beyond overjoyed that we were able to learn from professionals, ask them questions, and later see the show with the choreography that we had just learned and cheer on our teachers in the chorus.  

Other travel opportunities include a yearly trip to a nearby city, with previous trips being to Chicago and Boston.  Generally, Honors also provides discounted ticket prices to various plays being performed in the Buffalo area, mainly at the Irish Classical Theatre.

Another unique opportunity that Honors provides is their Lunch & Learn series where students are able to receive a lecture in a casual setting where they are able to talk to a guest speaker and ask them questions.  An upcoming speaker is Donna Fernandes, Buffalo Zoo President and CEO, which is especially exciting for all ABEC students.  Along with inspiring conversations and networking opportunities, this event also features free food. What more could a Griff ask for?

In addition to these incredible opportunities, Dr. Dierenfield is an incredibly helpful mentor to every single student in the program.  Personally, he has been very accommodating to my needs with being a double major and weaving the Honors program through them both while helping me to achieve my personal goals.  When I was entertaining the idea of studying abroad through the Honors’ program exclusive connection with the University of Glasgow in Scotland, Dr. Dierenfield was there to answer every question, and if he didn’t know the answer, then he would find someone who did.  

Also, Honors offers exclusive housing with other Honors students, which helps to form bonds with more students in the program and unites more people with common interests.  Formerly, some of this housing was in the George Martin house, but now resides, for freshman, on Bosch 6, and for upperclassmen students, in Dugan.

Besides all of these extracurriculars and exclusive housing that Honors offers, what the program is really founded on is accelerated classes designed to challenge students and force them to think independently.  I have been able to take classes with incredible professors that I would not have had a chance to work with had I not joined the Honors program.  I feel fortunate to have been able to take classes with chairs of departments outside of my majors here at Canisius because of this program.  

The All-College Honors Program, is a community that I am incredibly proud to be a part of at Canisius.  Like any other program, the classes can get difficult at times, however, Honors has provided me with more opportunities than I can count, and has introduced me to some of my closest friends, including my best friend and roommate of three years now, and for this, I’m forever grateful.  If you’ve been considering joining the Honors program, I hope that I’ve helped you to decide and that you can take from my first-hand experience that it has been one of the most rewarding parts of my experience at Canisius thus far.


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