Honors Program Student Newsletter 2015-2016
We are pleased to send you a copy of this year’s Honors Program eNewsletter, edited by Kathleen McGrail ‘17 CPS. It profiles some of the program’s recent activities, as well as one of our superstar faculty members.
I hope the program will remain as important to you as it is for us and that you will continue to participate in our events.
With continuing wishes for your success,
Robert Forman, Ph.D.
Honors Program Director
By Wesley Martinez ’14
Early in the fall semester a new exploratory trip was added to the repertoire of traditional Honors Program walking tours. Though the possibility had been discussed in the past, this was the first time that Dr. Forman conducted a tour of Central Park for the honors students.
The group arrived by bus on the southern end of Central Park. The tour began with an examination of the statue of Simon Bolivar which is situated at the entrance to the park. After entering the park, the tour strolled alongside The Pond, while Dr. Forman discussed the history of the park; how its architects envisioned it to be a work in progress and how the park was always supposed to be in the act of “becoming.”
After detouring around a protest that was taking place in Grand Army Plaza, Dr. Forman led the students to the old Irish Shanty Town where he discussed its historical importance and presented a rousing rendition of Thomas Moore’s “Believe me, if all those endearing young charms.” The tour proceeded to Inscope Tunnel where Dr. Forman drew the students’ attention to the design of the tunnel’s arch which was made out of basalt that had been unearthed in the construction and landscaping of the park. Dr. Forman then guided the tour to the Arsenal, which once served as an armory for the New York State Militia, and then to the Delacorte Clock just in time to see the figures dance around to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” The next stop was the Literary Walk followed by the Bethesda Fountain where the tour paused for lunch allowing, for a peaceful half hour of rest and the opportunity to observe the boats on the Lake.
Following lunch, Dr. Forman led the way to Strawberry Fields and then across the street to The Dakota, a famous apartment building, where students took turns standing on the spot where John Lennon was murdered in 1980. It was on that note that the tour came to an end, and everyone filed back into the bus for the return to campus. The tour was both a pleasant retreat from day to day campus activities, and an educating experience on the Park’s unique history. I am hopeful this tour will become a part of the collection of other walking tours, museum trips, and other events that make the Honors Program such an attractive option.
Just about anyone who has been fortunate enough to have been a student in one of her classes knows what a privilege it is to study with Dr. Alison Hyslop, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and a regular faculty member of the Honors Program. Indeed, the immediate response one has to first meeting Dr. Hyslop is an unusual mixture of enthusiasm for her discipline coupled with a quick, brilliant mind, and even more an inherent kindness that makes the intimidating discipline of chemistry clear and accessible.
Dr. Hyslop describes one of the teaching techniques she regularly employs in general chemistry. She gives beginning students an unidentified compound and requires them to identify it by its chemical and physical properties, then to synthesize it. She carefully organizes her students into groups and invariably, she notes, the fears and barriers begin to fall. One student takes the initiative and at first others follow until another comes forward with another procedure to allow the team to reach an empirical conclusion.
It is typical of Dr. Hyslop that when asked about herself she describes her experience with students. She so clearly identifies with them that they are inseparable from the way she views herself. Dr. Hyslop does not mention until specifically asked that she obtained her doctorate in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, that she has taught all levels of chemistry during her decade and a half at St. John’s, or that her research interests have focused on the design, synthesis, and study of light-harvesting complexes based on porphyrins, essentially how they convert light into usable forms of energy. Dr. Hyslop is, in every sense, a treasured asset of the program.