What comes to mind first when you think of Sookmyung Women’s university as Sookmyungians? While some may say snowflake, the colour blue, a beautiful campus, a long history or ROTC, there is likely one thing you will probably overlook. It is the Sookmyung Honors Program, which was uniquely established for Sookmyungians. In order to know more about the program and its changes over the last two years, The Sookmyung Times looked into the program deeply.
The Honors Program Beginnings
Sookmyung Honors program was created by the Leadership General Education Institute in 2014. The purpose of the program is to nurture potential passionate first year global leaders with warm personalities and creativeness through variety activities. Therefore, to qualify for the program, you must be a first year student. In order to qualify, a first year student must pass two tests: a document submission and then an interview. Sookmyungians who successfully enter the program should participate in the program for one full school year, including the summer and winter vacation months. The privileges of program participation are opportunities to join overseas internships, additional academic credits, and certificates for certain activities. Also, all the events and activities are provided to participants for free.
Honors Program Explained
1) Public Speaking Class
Sookmyung Honors Program opens a public speaking class eight times in the first semester and four times during winter vacation. The class is offered to program participants because it corresponds directly with the purpose of Sookmyung Honors Program. In order to be a global female leader, it is essential for one to have a good public speaking ability. Therefore, renowned experts and speech stylists like Lee Jungmin and Bae Hyeonjin visit Sookmyung to guest lecture in the class for the Honors program and teach the skills of presentations. They have been coming to Sookmyung for two consecutive years as a way of improving students’ vocalization, attitude, interviewing skills, active listening, and discussion competency. Students are given the opportunity to present on a variety of subject matter after listening to these public speaking classes. They also get a chance to receive individual feedback as their performance is recorded.
2) Special Lecture
One of the best aspects of the Honors Program is the provision of free special lectures for participants. The program invites field specialists who have succeeded after facing various challenges to guest lecture for participants and provide practical advice and information. During second semester, special lectures are offered once a week, and the type of people who come to lecture are from various fields like information systems, diplomacy, fair trip, UNESCO, Microsoft, and so on. Sookymyung Women’s University professors from the Department of Political Science & International Relations, Department of Clothing & Textiles, and School of Communication & Media also provide students with valuable information and lessons. After each lecture, students are given the opportunity to discuss their opinions.
3) Mentoring Program
Sookmyung Honors Program also offers students mentoring. Students meet with professors in charge and are counseled on a variety of areas as well as receive valuable information from professors. In addition to receiving advice as mentees, students also act as mentors for children. Last September, the Honors program students met with children at the Community Child Center. They spent three days with kids, playing and listening to their stories. Participants spent time drawing and painting with the children. Participants also invited Heukbit Village children to Sookmyung Women’s University and led them in play and other activities scheduled for the event. For example, one group of children and mentors baked a cake, ate lunch, and watched a theatrical performance near Hyehwa station.
For almost two years since its establishment, Sookmyung Honors Program has engaged in volunteering actively. Last December 30, 2015, 103 students visited mountain villages to delivery charcoal briquettes and other necessaries for disadvantaged families in winter. According to Jeon Hyesu, Department of English ’15, “Through the briquette delivery volunteer work, I realized how many senior citizens suffer in poverty and from the cold of winter and realized how lucky I am to live as I do.” The program provides students the chance to do volunteer work and join donation campaigns both on and off campus. For instance, Honours students sold cookies and beverages to fellow Sookmyungians in order to earn money to purchases briquettes and other supplies for poor families. Money collected from Sookmyungians was used to purchase 2,100 charcoal briquettes, which were delivered to families who need them along with messages of hope.
Thoughts about the Honors Program
As detailed earlier, Sookmyung Honors Program provides students with numerous programs and opportunities. Knowing all the benefits, are actual Honours students satisfied with the program? According to a survey by SMT of 22 students who are currently part of the program, the greatest strength of the participating in the program is the opportunity to meet students from a variety of majors. Participants also mentioned the benefit of winter vacation camp training as it enables students to become more intimate through the 3-day event. In typical university classes, there are few chances to meet other major students and fewer chances to create strong bonds of friendship with fellow students. However, through the Honors Program, students participate in various programs with students from all kinds of majors, which enable students to make precious personal connections. Also, each program makes participants deeply reflect on their future and the kind of person they want to be. Yun Seongryun, a student in the Department of English ’15, said, “Through Sookmyung Honors program, I learnt to introduce myself to someone new, make concrete plans for my future, and pondered deeply my vision in life. Especially, during the 3-day camp, I had time to look back on my first year as a university student and make plans for my next 3 years.”
Participants also highlighted the joining of various programs as a great advantage to the program. They mentioned the charcoal briquette delivery work, the public speaking classes, and operatic lessons as activities they would never had the opportunity to get involved with or learn if they hadn’t been a part of the program. Ryu Sueon, a student from the Department of English ’15, said, “The public speaking classes were the best part of this program. I learnt how to address an audience professionally and perfect my vocalization and presentation methods.”
However, the program is not without its disadvantages. Participants said the school needs to operate the program more systematically. Also, during its publication, promoters need to be more specific with details on the activities the program will include so that students can make a more informed decision on whether to participate. This way, students will be more willing to continue with the program right to the end. Also, some participants said in a SMT survey* that when Sookmyung Honors Program selects students for its overseas programme, students are not selected according to academic standing, but according to activeness in the Sookmyung Honors program. Also, ‘too many lessons’ was selected as bad point in SMT survey. Participants said there is a need for more practical work like volunteer activities. Lastly, participants said the Honors Program should be suspended during exam periods. Despite its strengths, students are burdened by it during exam periods. The right to study during exams is a fundamental right of students.
For Truly be for Sookmyungians Only
Sookmyung Honors program offers a number of beneficial chances for participants and has guided students to realize their potential and desire in life. Sookmyung Honors program has been in operation for last two years. However, to become a program sincerely for Sookmyungians, the program needs to address students’ concerns, even though Sookmyung may consider them trivial. Fortunately, the person in charge of this program also promised to keep them in her mind. Sookmyung Honors Program can be compared to a toddler just starting to walk. It has a bit of a way to go before it will be sturdy on its feet.
First year students! Now is the chance to apply for a program designed solely with you in mind.