One wants to create a documentary exploring student political activism. Another will build a Lord of the Rings strategy game for middle schoolers. Nine more will form a summer book club.
These are among the 28 student-led summer projects funded by the Clemson University Honors College. For the second year in a row, the Honors College has replaced grants for summer travel, often international, with educational enrichment mini grants.
“Honors mini grants give our students opportunities to learn, to stretch themselves, to connect with each other, and to help their communities — all of which are vital to an Honors education,” said Honors College Executive Director William Lasser.
“We wanted to remind students that they can do all these things without leaving their home towns, or even without leaving their homes.”
More than $14,000 in grants were awarded this year, with individual grants ranging from $125 to $1,750.
Transition from Travel
The idea for the mini grants was born in 2020 after COVID-19 shut down the world and travel was impossible.
Prior to Covid, the travel grants were awarded to students for out-of-the-classroom summer experiences and international travel was especially encouraged.
Past recipients included an engineering major who spent eight weeks conducting lab research on material properties in Singapore, a mathematics major who studied biology and conservation while taking care of animals in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, and an engineering major who partnered with a nonprofit organization to teach children living in poverty in India.
Instead of canceling the travel grants, Lasser decided to still award money, but change the criteria to projects that could be done at home or virtually.
Student applications were creative and varied, proposing projects such as piano lessons through Zoom and building a prosthetic hand.
“When we realized that travel wouldn’t be allowed, we knew the students would still want to remain active academically in the summer,” said Melissa Hawkins, the program coordinator of the grants program. “The mini-grants allowed them to continue their academic pursuits.”
Think Globally, Act Locally
This year, the Honors College prioritized projects that addressed global issues, but within the context of the local community. Not only will these projects further the education of the students, but they will also give back to others.
Some of the projects taking place this summer include:
- Crocheting blankets to send to Warm Up America!, an organization that provides blankets for homeless shelters, hospitals, AIDS facilities, and nursing homes.
- Participating in an at-home course and lab on bioengineering.
- Attending a virtual conference to support research of the health effects of college diets on Clemson’s campus.
- Taking online training to become a yoga instructor, with plans to offer free lessons to students.
“Just like last year, the students came up with creative and thoughtful ideas to enhance their educational experience,” Hawkins said. “The focus on community this year was a bonus, and I am glad the Honors College could assist them in benefiting so many people.”
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