SAFE SPACES IN NEW PLACES:
HONORS COLLEGE ALUMNUS WORKS TO PROMOTE
COMMUNITY DIVERSITY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIAMarch 10th, 2014 (Jupiter, FL)—The community of students and faculty at Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College is always happy to hear from its alumni and excited to learn about what they went on to do after their time in Jupiter. Recently Alex Lange, who served as the MacArthur Campus Governor before graduating in 2012, contacted the Wilkes Honors College to update everyone about what he has been up to since he left. Unsurprisingly, he has been busy putting his Honors College education to good use.
Lange is on the verge of completing his Masters of Education degree at the University of Georgia in Athens, where he focuses on College Student Affairs Administration. In addition to his academic work, he is also employed as a Graduate Assistant for Leadership Programs in the Office of Student Leadership and Services at nearby Emory University. “I work with students at Emory in doing leadership development with first-year and fourth-year students while also working on developing curriculum for the OSLS,” Lange explains. “I am looking to work at college and university campuses in leadership development, community engagement, student conduct, multicultural initiatives and programs, and/or LGBT life.” In fact, it is Lange’s interest in promoting diversity awareness and creating safe spaces for people of varied backgrounds that dives Lange’s academic goals. “I am also engaged in a research endeavor, looking at how students develop their multiple dimensions of identity (race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, class, religion and spirituality) in relation to campus environments,” Lange elaborates. “Specifically, I am looking at gay men of color and how they experience their multiple marginalized identities on campus, how they develop those identities, and how practitioners and administrators can create inclusive campus environments for students.” Lange hopes that this research opportunity will open the door for him to continue his exploration in the area of campus development and diversity studies. “I have a fair amount of research I want to look at in the future, including looking at gender policing between gay men on college campuses as well as studying how college practitioners can measure and define student involvement,” he says. “There’s plenty I want to research, inspired a great deal by the Honors College and everything I studied there.”
Lange attributes much of his success in his graduate program to the rigorous and engaging environment he was exposed to at the Honors College. “The HC prepared me SO well for graduate school,” Lange exclaims. According to him, the environment of a small graduate program is similar to the intimate learning community he experienced at FAU. “Studying with the professors across disciplines really improved the clarity and approach of my writing, especially since I was going into a new discipline. My graduate cohort is comprised of only 18 people, including myself. It’s actually one of the bigger classes I’ve ever had, whereas for many of my classmates, it’s the smallest class they’ve ever had,” he explains. “Engaging and being an active participant class is pretty much standard to me because that’s what was required at the HC.” However, the curriculum of the Honors College has helped prepare Lange for more than just class discussions. Recently Lange was pleased to learn that he had passed his comprehensive exams; a grueling, six-hour long ordeal designed to test graduate students on everything they’ve learned during their studies. “Despite the fact that the Honors College never asked me to prepare for an exam that long or that encompassing, it did prepare me in making me think in a multidisciplinary way. It was a great skill to have to make connections across different classes and areas because our faculty here at UGA promotes that interdisciplinary thinking the same way professors at the HC did,” Lange adds.
As he did during his time at the Honors College, Lange is committed to being involved in campus life outside of the classroom. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of Research-elect for the American College Personnel Association’s Commission for Student Involvement (CSI). The CSI works to promote greater understanding of college and university students in terms of their characteristics, purposes, attitudes, behavior, mores, campus activities, and community life as a basis for more effective planning of relevant programs. Lange is also a trained facilitator for the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) and works to advance their mission of understanding across difference with faculty, students, and staff at UGA. “I also work on developing social justice attitudes in students through a four-hour workshop that I facilitate with different student groups. I have been able to give that presentation both at UGA and at Loyola University Chicago, where I have worked as an intern the past three summers,” says Lange.
As he continues to work with students and faculty from different disciplines, backgrounds, and institutions, Lange reflects on his time at the Honors College and on the ways in which it helped him become the student and professional that he is today. “I still discuss my HC experience with fondness. The amount of academic, social, personal, and mental development I gained from attending the HC was enormous and something that I wouldn’t trade for the world,” he says. “The relationships I built with the faculty are truly unique and something I don’t hear from friends who’ve graduated from other colleges.” Lange hopes to return to the Honors College one day, either to visit or even as a faculty member. “The Honors College is a special place where you come to get an education but you gain so much more - lifelong friends, a sense of who you are, and you become a critical consumer of research and knowledge,” says Lange. He hopes that other generations of Honors College students will have just as much success in their academic future as he did, and will remember their time at the Honors College as being as special and formative as it was for him.
About Florida Atlantic University: Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu