Senior Jonathon (JJ) Malone came to Illinois State because it reminded him of his hometown of Farmer City.

“I came from a small high school and I wanted a university that still had that small-town atmosphere but also had big school opportunities,” Malone said. “And I felt like Illinois State was the perfect school for that combination.”

Malone also found that same feeling within the Honors Program. He was welcomed into the program when he was awarded the Presidential Scholarship, the most prestigious scholarship available to incoming freshmen.

“I was looking for a tight-knit group within Illinois State and I felt that the Honors community could be one that I fit in really well,” he said.

As a student, Malone took advantage of new opportunities to learn. Through an Honors Exploration, Malone was able to investigate compelling concepts beyond traditional college coursework. Honors Explorations offer students the opportunity to discuss unique topics in-depth, such as “small flying robots,” commonly referred to as drones.

Malone holding drone

In his Honors Exploration, Malone learned about the impact drones have on farming and agriculture.

“We spent five weeks learning about drone technology and their different applications in farming and agriculture,” said Malone. “I learned 100 percent more about drones than I ever knew and I learned even more about agriculture than I thought I already knew.”

“I realized that drone technology can have a major impact on the economy of small-town farming communities such as my hometown,” said Malone, a double major in business and economics. “I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if it wasn’t for the Honors Program.”

Malone recommends the Honors Program to all students interested in a greater and more personalized level of learning.

“Honors completely exceeded my expectations,” he said. “I came for the community, but I didn’t expect to find the family that I did within the Honors Program. I know that if I have any trouble or any questions at Illinois State, the students and staff of the Honors Program will help me out.”