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* Honors Grad Jerimiah Rice found the intellectual stimulation he wanted in Honors Program

“Take research, work with it, discover something new.”

“This program prepared me to get the most out of my education – and my life in general.”

Jerimiah Rice is passionate about his education.  The recent graduate enrolled in classes that challenged his intellect and fed his desire for knowledge and understanding.  Rice was looking for thought-provoking conversations, both in and out of the classroom.  When he learned about the Honors Program and the opportunity it provides for another level of intellectual exploration, he immediately enrolled. 


“My psychology teacher and I would have long conversations about all kinds of interesting things,” Rice said, referring to Prof. Peter Sparks. “One day, he asked if I was interested in enrolling in the Honors Program so I looked into it and decided it was something I could really enjoy and get something out of it.”


The program had just been launched when Rice enrolled in 2006.  He enjoyed the conversations led by a team of instructors that centered on the philosophical and scientific questions that have challenged generations of scholars.  In those discussions, Rice found the creative stimulation that was instrumental in forming the thesis that he would present at the end of the program.


During the first quarter, Rice, an SCC scholarship recipient, was introduced to the many forms of research and the influences and perspectives that define them. 


“I learned that there is no one way to look at things or approach a problem, that each situation or event is truly unique,” Rice said. He learned to consider cultural, scientific, perspective, time and many other factors.  “I learned to not take anything at face value; that just because it was written didn’t always mean the truth,” Rice said.


His thesis title was heady: “Neuronal Systems of Creativity: Specifically Focused on Motivation and Problem-Solving or Cognitive Flexibility.” Behind the words was the idea to look into what happens in the brain to stimulate creativity.  In the research phase of the program, Rice said he discovered the diametrical views of scientists and philosophers and scholars from different times throughout history. Through the research, Rice touched such diverse ideas as intervention of divinities, spiritual possession, madness and Sigmund Freud’s belief that creativity was the result of tension between the conscious and unconscious areas of the brain.


“I learned how to look at things in different ways – and the value of doing that,” Rice said.  


One of the program highlights for Rice was the weekly one-on-one meetings with Sparks, who was his faculty mentor in the program. Rice said those conversations stretched his imagination and awareness beyond expectation. It was in those meetings, along with similar conversations with other Honors Program students, that Rice discovered the program’s value.


“I enjoyed every minute,” Rice said. 


Sparks said the experiences with Rice and the other Honors Program students was a positive experience for him as well.  “It was truly inspiring working with Jerimiah,” Sparks said.


Rice said he also enjoyed the camaraderie with other honors students. While the required weekly student discussions were centered on academics, there was a lighter side, too. Rice discovered that the questions and findings on which they were founding their research could be presented in not-quite-standard form: a humorous skit.


“We thought this creative approach supported the idea of the program in a new, unique way,” Rice said.  “We felt like a team throughout the program and wanted to complete the project that way.”


What might have been a little risky turned out to be a good bet when Sparks embraced the effort. “The energetic team came up with a problem that needed to be solved and were able to use each of their topics together to generate the story and the solution to the problem,” Sparks said. 


Currently, Rice said he’s “staying ahead of the economy” by putting his skills to work as a sheet metal worker.  He plans to return to school to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and is checking out a number of possibilities, including the University of California - San Diego.  Eventually, Rice said he wants to do research and then teach.


One of the aspects that Rice didn’t expect are the lasting friendships from Shoreline and the Honors Program. On a regular basis, he and a few classmates are enjoying stimulating conversations over coffee.   “I don’t see that ever ending,” Rice said.


                                                                                         Donna Myers/PIO

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