Illinois State University human resource management major Nicki Ott joined the Honors Program in the spring of her sophomore year. “I had a pretty strong GPA and got an email encouraging me to apply to the program,” Ott said. “The next day, I asked my advisor about it then went straight home to apply.”

The Honors Program’s motto, “Exceptional Learning for Exceptional Learners,” caught her attention. Ott said she wanted to prove that she, too, could be exceptional. She also looked forward to spending time with people who share similar interests and goals. “I’ve always been attracted to hanging out with intelligent people and what better way to do that than get involved in the Honors Program?” Ott said.

Since joining the program, Ott has found that she works harder to keep up her GPA and frequently serves as a leader in group projects. She is continually motivated to achieve her very best. “The Honors Projects I’ve participated in have been extremely beneficial in helping me delve deeper into the topics covered in class so that I learn more,” Ott said. “The Honors sections I’ve taken have been some of the most fun classes I’ve had because they are filled with students like me who want to learn and are there to get the most out of their education.”

The Honors Program has impacted more than just her educational experience, however. Ott describes her freshman year as somewhat isolated. “When I joined the Honors Program, I realized my group had been right in front of me the whole time,” she said. “The Honors Program made ISU feel like the home I always knew it could be and I am forever grateful for that.”

Ott graduates in May and plans to move home, spend more time with her family, and travel as much as possible. She said the opportunity to participate in the Honors Travel to Florence, Italy, planted the travel bug in her and she is “eager to continue exploring the beautiful world we live in.”

Looking to the future, Ott said she wants to continue to be exceptional and better herself as she has been taught the last few years. “Learning doesn’t have to end just because your education does,” she said.