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"What the Fogelman College Honors Programs Means to Me."

A testimonial by William Henderson, FCBE Honors student.

Many people are starting to say that a degree does not mean as much as it used to mean back in the day. With universities pumping out hundreds of thousands of graduates each semester, a simple piece of paper will not make you stand out from the mass of other graduates looking for employment. So wait a minute, you're telling me that paying out thousands of dollars, staying up late doing homework, walking across campus in the bitter cold or scorching heat, surviving off ramen noodles and cereal, and spending my entire tax refund check on books, isn't going to matter to potential employers? Unfortunately, probably not. Now, before you start thinking that this is the worst, most depressing and discouraging speech you've ever heard... let me finish. It's not your degree alone that makes you stand out, but it's what you've put behind the degree that makes you stand out.

Your degree is like the title of a book. It may look nice and sound intriguing, but without any substance behind it, it won't mean much. And that's just the reality of the world we live in. About 65% of high school graduates go on to attend a college or university. Whether that number is high enough, is another discussion for another time, over another meal. But one thing is for sure. That's still a lot of people, and it won't be long before you meet someone else with your "title".

So most of the current students in this room have already picked their title, but now you have to not only earn that title, in the form of graduation, but you have to write a good book, and the Fogelman Honors Program will be a great help in both endeavors. How? For one thing, you get the best teachers Fogelman has to offer. If any of you are like me, you never knew there were so many different ways to count money. That's right, I'm talking about Accounting. Despite the mutual hate between accounting and me, I pulled through. Not because I'm a genius, even though I am, but because through the honors program I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Charlene Spiceland as a teacher, who, although was teaching me what will go down in history as one of my top 3 most hated subjects of all time, genuinely helped me, and each and every one of her students understand accounts payable, accounts receivable, and all those other fancy money words. Like I said, I am not an accounting major. No student can be an expert in every subject, but every student can leave class with an understanding of every subject, so when you encounter a list of liabilities and assets in the real world, it will not stop you from performing your job effectively.

Being in the honors program also allows you to learn in a more intimate environment, with smaller class sizes. This allows your professors to not only teach you the subject at hand, but how to truly stand out from the masses. Dr. Tankersley's "Life Nuggets" taught us that where you went to school, or how high your GPA was, did not necessarily give you a head start when looking for a job. Simple things such as eye contact, putting your phone away, keeping your word, putting your phone away, being not just on time, but early, and, of course, putting your phone away, can put you ahead of even an Ivy League graduate with a 4.0.

Being an honors student will also give you first-hand information about the many programs Fogelman has to offer that teach you the soft skills that you will definitely need when meeting professionals in the workforce. You get a chance to interact with the college's most influential faculty and staff, who can get you connected with internships, and even jobs, with a simple email or phone call.

Before I take my seat, there is one more benefit of the honors program that I need to mention, and it is my hope that my peers don't overlook it. Being a Fogelman honors student connects you with some of the brightest, and most talented students this side of the Mississippi. Being around students with the ambition, discipline, determination, and creativity of those in the Fogelman honors program has been one of the most enriching experiences of my education, and I consider it a personal honor to be part of such a great group of people.

Albert Einstein once said, "You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to learn to play better than anyone else." For example, we all know the basic rules of basketball. Shoot from here and its worth 2 points, a little further is worth 3, if you touch a player a certain way, it's a foul. But that's not enough to be a great player like Lebron, Kobe, Marc Gasol, or Zach Randolph. These great players not only know the rules, but they know how to play the game. They know how to stand when shooting a free throw, and how to properly handle the ball when navigating across the court. The same goes for the business world. We all know the rules: wear a suit to an interview, make eye contact, don't be late. But knowing how to play the game requires things like knowing how to network, knowing the do's and don'ts when dining with a prospective business partner, and making sure that you're not just doing your job, but you're doing it effectively. So while you're at the University of Memphis, learn the rules. And while you're doing that, let the Fogelman Honors Program teach you how to play better than anyone else.