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Student Spotlight - Biology
Shady Bassaly
Shady Bassaly, an Egyptian-born ETSU junior, enrolled in the Biology Honors-in-Discipline (H-I-D) program as a freshman at ETSU. He states, ”I chose to enter an Honors program in my first year following advice I received from my advisors in high school. In high school, I was taking honors/gifted student classes in Biology and my advisors informed me that I there was a possibility of continuing my education in this type of intensive learning environment while in college.” Shady emphasized that when he entered college he was looking for a particular program that would satisfy his prospects for a challenging, hands-on academic experience.

Shady heard about the Biology H-I-D program while applying to ETSU. The staff in the ETSU Financial Aid office referred him to the Honors College because of his high GPA and interest in pursuing an honors program. Shady applied to a number of Honors programs at various colleges; ETSU was the first to accept him. He explained that in order to attend college, he needed a program that would assist with the cost of tuition and provide financial support during the pursuit of his college degree. When he visited the Honors College, he was introduced to the Biology Honors-in-Discipline program and was immediately attracted. Not only was a scholarship available, but the program was a full four-year academic plan of study. It was also important that “…the staff members in Biology Honors were very helpful. They took the time to meet with me and answer all of my questions about the program”.

Shady is currently involved in paleobotany research at the Gray Fossil site with Dr. Christopher Liu. Like all other honors programs at ETSU, Honors in Biology requires a Senior Honors Thesis based on significant research conducted in the student’s area of interest. Shady explains, “This promotes student maturity and responsibility.” He credits the faculty and staff involved in the Biology H-I-D program in teaching the research methods that have enabled him to achieve his goals. He would really like to publish a research paper as an undergraduate scientist, an accomplishment that would be extremely helpful for securing admission to a good graduate program and for future job opportunities. When he finishes his studies at ETSU, Shady plans to apply to medical school. Currently, he has three institutions in mind: Emory University, Georgia College of Medicine and the J.H. Quillen College of Medicine at ETSU.

As far as the intrinsic value of Shady’s H-I-D in Biology experience is concerned, he enthusiastically mentions his highly improved analytical skills: “The Biology professors at ETSU are very analytical and this is something that I have not encountered before attending college. He credits the Honors-in-Discipline program with “teaching you how to be analytical and how to identify the bias in papers that you read.” This skill is helpful in other subjects as well. Thanks to his improved critical thinking skills, Shady says that “…I’ve developed a habit of not taking everything that comes my way as a fact, but instead analyze and judge for myself.” He believes that the Biology H-I-D program has prepared him very well for any career. Although the Biology H-I-D is not directly geared towards medical school, Shady acknowledges that it has helped him to prepare for this phase of his academic career.

Shady’s involvement with the Biology H-I-D program was not at all what he expected. “It has surpassed my expectations and I believe this is because they have a lot of experienced people who have done this program before. They know exactly what to ask from their students and they make their requirements very clear. I thought the program would be just taking a bunch of classes, getting an A, putting a good, colorful thing on you at graduation and that’s it. It’s so much more than that.”

Shady was asked to give advice to other students, American and International, who may be thinking about pursuing one of the thirteen H-I-D programs currently available in the Honors College: This is what he had to say:

The thirteen Honors-in-Discipline (H-I-D) programs are geared toward students who love the subject that they’re taking and that’s why they offer so many of them. Students should not pursue this program just for the scholarship opportunities but because the genuinely have an interest in the subject. Additionally, I would advise them not to stress out. It’s very easy just as long as they like what they’re doing, stick with it and take a little more responsibility.

For those students who may be hesitant about participating in an H-I-D, the best advice I could give is to first weigh advantages and disadvantages very carefully. This is a committed program. You need to be committed with your time and energy for at least four years for this. However, while I understand that students may be hesitant, I strongly encourage them to see the positive aspect of the H-I-D programs and to understand that it will help them immensely in the future. And for me, personally, I think it was very enjoyable.

As for international students, I believe some may think it’s harder to pursue honors  coursework in the United States. Personally, I don’t believe that is true. Honors are Honors no matter where you go to college. As long as you’re mature and responsible enough it doesn’t matter where you are; it is going to be worthwhile and credible.

My advice, once again, is not to stress out. There is faculty, staff, and administrators at ETSU involved in these programs that are very friendly and eager to assist you in your academic career. The inclusion of the Office of International Programs and Services as part of the Honors College make it easier for international students to become acquainted with programs and advisors that are very efficient and effective at what they do. In closing, my advice is, if you have interest, do it.

USPS Mailing Address:
Honors-in-discipline Programs
The Honors College at
East Tennessee State University
PO Box 70589
Johnson City, TN 37614-1708

Phone: 423.439.7506
Fax: 423.439.6080
email:  hid.scholars@etsu.edu

Street Addresses of The Honors College offices:
  Administration: Yoakley Hall, Room 129
161 S. Dossett Drive
University & Midway Scholars: Ada Earnest House
310 S. Dossett Drive
Honors-in-Discipline Programs: Yoakley Hall, Room 206
161 S. Dossett Drive
Fine & Performing Art Scholars: Yoakley Hall, Room 206
161 S. Dossett Drive
Undergraduate Research: Yoakley Hall, Room 129
161 S. Dossett Drive
International Programs & Services: Yoakley Hall, Room 122
161 S. Dossett Drive

East Tennesssee State University The Honors College