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Stephen Colonna Says American Honors Classes Focus
'Not Just on Structure, But on Ideas’


A 2014 graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, Stephen Colonna is studying Liberal Arts at Mercer. But his true passion lies in illustration.  He is considering a career as a graphic novelist, but then again, who knows?

While he considered other colleges, he chose MCCC because it would give him time to sharpen his illustration skills and focus his energy on his art.  “But when I heard about American Honors (AH), I knew I wanted to be part of it.”

Stephen says that it’s been all good since he started in September.  “I have acclimated to college life.”

With a goal of transfer in mind – maybe to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, or the School of Visual Arts in New York City – Stephen has two key objectives for the MCCC phase of his college career: to improve his art abilities and to take care of his General Education requirements.  “It’s less expensive to take them here and then I can concentrate on my art in my third and fourth year,” he says.

His two AH courses this fall – English 101 and Psychology – were great.  “English, in particular, prepares you for college level writing in different subject matter. I can apply what I learned there in my other classes. The approach to writing focused not just on structure but on ideas.”

According to Colonna, that’s a thread that ran through both courses. “There is high level thinking being asked of us.  Lectures are always a part, but in these classes, it’s not just a memory test.  You have to be self-driven and internalize what you are learning.  You have to care. That’s what American Honors is all about.”

Stephen Colonna

Stephen notes that the openness of the environment is empowering. “People speak about ideas. We don’t just take notes; we discuss concepts. We break it down and arrive at an understanding,” he said, adding that class sizes of 12 to 15 help to make this personalized approach to learning possible.

That sharing of ideas also fuels friendships. “You recognize mutual interests and find that you have a lot in common,” he says of his AH friends.

Stephen also appreciates the support he has gotten from AH advisor Nick Geremia, who has helped him with a lot more than just class selection. “He offers feedback and advice. He is looking out for us.  Individual attention is his goal to ensure our success. He is very motivating.”

American Honors has also proven to be a confidence-builder. Stephen advises students who may be considering the program not to be daunted. “Don’t doubt yourself. You have to look for opportunities that can better your future.  If there is an opportunity, why not go for it?”

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