HIM Testimonials

The following testimonials are from students who have participated in The Burnett Honors College's Honors in the Major Program.  We hope that these accounts will provide insight into how the program can positively affect the chances of being selected for a graduate program of study, professional school, or career and highlight how our students have grown from the research and thesis writing process.


The HIM program allowed me to challenge myself to an extent that my major could not do alone. As an English major on the Technical Communications track, I originally thought that the HIM Program was only for STEM majors. However, I'm glad that I thought twice, did my research, and decided to participate. By graduating as a HIM student, I was able to impress employers with my thesis and help others with my contributions to the field of Technical Communications. I recommend the HIM program to students of all majors, as it prepares you for the workplace by teaching you how to work independently, overcome obstacles, and manage time. The personal sense of accomplishment and pride that the HIM program gives you is one that no other class assignment can provide and one that I believe every Knight should experience.

~Brittney Adams
~Major:  English-Technical Writing/Editing
~Thesis Title and Chair: Social Media and Its Effects on Privacy, Directed by Madelyn Flammia

The Honors in the Major program was the most rewarding endeavor of my undergraduate career because it enabled me to explore and expand my own research interests. My independent research led to involvement in presentations at numerous professional conferences, innumerable networking opportunities, and a unique firsthand understanding of the research process. Perhaps most importantly, my participation in the program carried great weight when applying to graduate programs; ultimately, it aided in my admittance into a competitive PhD program in Clinical Psychology. 

~Emily Edwards
~Major:  Psychology
~Thesis Title and Chair: Preserving the Right to a Fair Trial:  An Examination of the Prejudicial Value of Visual and Auditory Evidence in the Context of a Criminal Case, Directed by Karen Mottarella

During my time at UCF, Honors in the Major has been one of my most meaningful experiences because it allowed me to reflect on my true passion and aspirations. I have made many friendships in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences and my experience has made me excel and standout among other medical school applicants. I was given an invitation to join the UCF College of Medicine with my strong research background. When I began my medical education, UCF COM required every student to do FIRE (Focused Inquiry Research Experience) and I was ahead of the game because I already had experience and a research mentor from undergraduate years which allowed me to transition easily. Whether you are aspired to become a scientist, physician, or any other type of professional, HIM will lead you down a good path towards your goal.

~Brenda Nguyen
~Major: Molecular Biology and Microbiology
~Thesis Title and Chair: Expression of an Epitope Tagged Tarp Effector in Chlamydia Trachomatis, Directed by Travis Jewett


Pursuing Honors in the Major was the best decision I made as an undergraduate. The biggest question I asked myself at first was, "Do I really have the time for this?". This was especially a challenge for me because no student had pursued HIM on my campus to date. Moreover, I was already volunteering in my community along with serving as the President of my college's student association. I can now say with confidence that, of all the things I chose to be actively involved with, HIM was the most rewarding. Not only did I get to work on my own research, but I was able to get to know my professors on a one-to-one level along with learning the 'hows' and 'whys' of what makes real research so intricate, complicated, and interesting. It is a year's worth of additional hard work, but in the end you are distinguishing yourself along with your University and you will also, undoubtedly, establish a life-long impression on both.

~Luke Eddy
~Major: Nursing
~Thesis Title and Chair: The Relationship Between Childhood Obesity and Depression, Directed by Patricia Lafferty

My participation in the Honors in the Major program for electrical engineering was an experience that truly encapsulated my undergraduate studies, and gave me a taste of graduate level research.  Being completely immersed in the research environment gave me a perspective unlike the traditional engineering student at this level, as well as depth in an area that solidifies a true understanding of the related coursework learned in classes.   With the many benefits that came with Honors in the Major I cherished the relationship with my faculty member, collaboration with other students in the research group, while maintaining the independence needed as a research student.    Most importantly, by the end of the experience I was given the confidence I needed to realize that graduate level education in engineering was an attainable and achievable goal. 

~Jared Bindl
~Major: Electrical Engineering
~Thesis Title and Chair: Multi-Pole Permanent Magnet Motor Design and Control for High Performance Electromechanical Actuation in All Electric Aircraft, Directed by Thomas Wu

The HIM program helped me both academically and personally, in ways I didn't anticipate. Not only did I learn in depth information about my topic, but I also learned valuable research, presentation, and writing techniques. These skills will continue to help me through graduate school and my career. Through my three-semester experience with HIM I also had the opportunity to travel to a conference in Durham, North Carolina to present about my thesis, my travel costs were covered by UCF! This is something I would not have been able to do without HIM.

~Jessica Ortega
~Major:  Art History
~Thesis Title and Chair: Pestilence and Prayer:  Saints and the Art of the Plague in Italy from 1370-1600, Directed by Margaret Zaho

I am very pleased that I participated in the Honors in the Major program through the University of Central Florida College of Health and Public Affairs, Legal Studies Department. I chose to conduct my research and thesis writing over a summer, fall, and finally, spring semester, amounting to a total of seven credit hours. The project was very rewarding and a true test of my research, time management, and organizational skills. The program itself is very well organized and deadline oriented, but not overwhelmingly so. This program allows exceptional students who qualify to conduct a challenging but gratifying project that can truly set the tone for their post graduate careers. I am sure my participation in this Honors program helped influence the admissions departments for all the law schools where I applied to take a long, hard look at my application before issuing a letter of acceptance. An exceptional student should do as I chose to do and embark on a journey of discovery and enlightenment through this Honors in the Major program. The Honors distinction that I will receive at graduation is transcended by the confidence bolstering experience brought on by the ultimate completion of this fulfilling accomplishment.

~Dayton King
~Major:  Legal Studies
~Thesis Title and Chair:  Study of Whether United States Supreme Court Sex-Discrimination Jurisprudence is Well-Grounded in Fourteenth Amendment Legislative History, Directed by David Slaughter


The Honors in the Major Program was an important culmination of all of my work at UCF and a great learning experience for my future studies. Working with my thesis chair and the rest of the committee allowed me the individual attention that some students never experience at such a large university and improved both my oral and written communication skills. HIM allows a student to improve their critical thinking skills while participating in original research that goes beyond many normal assignments that consist of regurgitating information from textbooks. As a student pursuing my Master's degree at the University of Denver, I have utilized many of the skills I used in my HIM thesis and the program is an invaluable tool for any student who is continuing with their education.

~Christopher Estoch
~Major:  Political Science - International Relations
~Thesis Title and Chair:  Nuclear Deterrence:  Insecurity and the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Directed by Houman Sadri

Honors in the Major program opened up a whole new world for me. I was an English/Creative Writing major and my thesis was to complete a novella. This is something that I probably wouldn't have been pushed to do otherwise, and even if I had completed it on my own, I would have never gotten the invaluable input of my mentors/committee members. My final product, my novella, was expected to achieve standards of excellence, and therefore, it was edited by me and my committee members to its full capacity. Every possible aspect was worked on and bettered. This final product was only possible through HIM program, and to say more, I feel very fortunate to have gone through the process. Because of the rigorous attention to my thesis, I was able to have well-crafted writing samples for graduate school, and was able to get into a fully funded program at Virginia Tech for their MFA in Creative Writing. I also got my letters of recommendation from my committee members, which helped the process enormously. I can't say enough good things about the marvelous Burnet Honors staff (always so attentive and helpful), and of the committee members (not only brilliant in their input, but ever available for help and emotional support).  I have to say that this was the highlight of my undergraduate years, and that I wouldn't be where I'm without this experience. My dream of entering a fully funded MFA program was granted, in huge part, as a result from this process.

~Maria Vera Tata
~Major:  English - Creative Writing
~Thesis Title and Chair:  The Maze, Directed by Cecilia Rodriguez-Milanes

Honors in the Major was definitely a challenge, but it helped me learn so much about myself, my determination, and my passion for my career. After researching and publishing my thesis I had greater knowledge in the field of education, so much so that it helped my principal decide to hire me because of the extensive knowledge I attained in my field.

~Kristin Bider
~Major:  Elementary Education
~Thesis Title and Chair: Exploring Elementary Teachers' Perceptions of Teaching Social Studies Through Historical Fiction Using Google Lit Trips, Directed by Sherron Roberts

The benefits of participating in undergraduate research are invaluable. I truly believe that writing a thesis and taking steps towards producing original research was the most educating experience I had as an undergraduate. Once you go through the experience of establishing a committee of professors to oversee your research from beginning to end, then have these professors help you develop your ideas and choose a research topic (literally it can be about whatever interest you in your major), after producing the actual paper on that topic, and then submitting it for publication and to conferences around the country, I believe that you will come out of UCF with a very clear idea of what it takes to excel in everything else you do after you’ve earned your bachelors. 

If what I just described is not enough, you also get to build excellent relationships with your professors (who will vouch for you with great letters of recommendations), you will have a writing sample to show selection committees or potential employers, and expertise on a topic, which is very beneficial if your chose to do your research about something related to your professional ambitions. Oh and I almost forgot; you actually get credits for this and you graduate with an honors distinction. 

In other words, do it! The benefit is impossible to quantify. I feel that the HIM program helped me get a better idea of what is expected from a student to be considered extraordinary and what can one do to exceed those expectation. I was fortunate enough to be selected for great programs like the National Science Foundation research program for undergraduates, I attended the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs at the West Point Military Academy, I presented my research at the Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago, and was able to secure an internship at a strategic communications firm in Orlando. I believe that going through the HIM program made me very competitive for all these opportunities.

Now I am getting ready to move to Washington D.C. where I have been admitted into the Elliott School of International Relations at George Washington University.

~Roman Torres
~Major:  Political Science - International Relations
~Thesis Title and Chair: Axis of Identity:  How Socially Constructed Perceptions Affect the Foreign Policy of Nations, Directed by Houman Sadri

As a student with many different interests, undergraduate research served to tie everything together. I was able join psychology, health, and writing with a focus on an area that I'm very passionate about. The Burnett Honors College is incredibly supportive and independent research is a great opportunity for students to showcase their work. The program helps develop critical skills to graduate/professional schools and the workplace: independence, intellectual curiosity, and communication. Students from all majors would benefit from undergraduate research and I highly recommend it.

~William Butler
~Major:  Psychology (Pre-Medicine)
~Thesis Title and Chair:  Physical Health Outcomes of the Stigmatizer, Directed by Mustapha Mouloua

Under the auspices of the Burnett Honors College and the exceptional faculty of UCF, I have had the privilege of engaging in research and writing a thesis, which explores the representation of poverty in Great Depression American literature.  This groundbreaking experience has served to broaden my horizon and passion for research.  The rippling effects have propelled me to share my thesis at the Showcase of Undergraduate Research Findings (SURF), which I will also present at the Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE).  The opportunities for research at UCF are endless.  As a result of writing a thesis, I have been given the opportunity to participate in The International Conference on Poverty, Globalization and Schooling: A Holistic Approach, the brainchild of UCF’s extraordinary faculty.  Embarking on added research will allow me to contribute to the field of education and curricula while networking with experts from around the globe.  UCF’s phenomenal faculty has embraced and supported my keen interest in research, which helped me to develop professionally.  In addition to publishing in the UCF Undergraduate Research Journal, Dr. Elsie Olan, my committee chair, seeks to publish an article based on my thesis in the English Journal.  My journey into the field of education has grown from simply wanting to obtain a degree to researching classroom curricula.  This growth results from the many opportunities UCF has presented.

As an Honors in the Major scholarship awardee, I am resolute in making a positive difference for incoming students into the undergraduate research program.  Since I accepted the challenge of writing a thesis, I have grown exponentially both professionally and socially.  As a result, I have founded and coordinated a Mentoring Program geared specifically toward undergraduate researchers.  I endeavor to work closely with students as they strive to achieve success.

~Cavel Austin
~English Language Arts Education
~Thesis Title and Chair: The Representation of Poverty in "Great Depression" American Literature, Directed by Elsie Olan