Victoria Johnson is blazing the trail as the first University Honors Research Scholar in the history of the Auburn University Honors College.
The Honors College at Auburn University introduced two new graduation distinctions: Honors Research Scholar and University Honors Research Scholar two years ago. These research-intensive curriculum paths reflect the Honors College’s commitment to help expand Auburn University’s enterprise as an R1 Carnegie Research Institution and to uphold the Honors College mission to “seek truth with courage and conviction.”
With the new distinctions, students can plan a profound, individualized research experience. “Many times, in my life, I have been taught the power of hard work, and my experience in the Honors College was no exception. However, I did not go on this journey alone. I had several incredible Honors professors that made their challenging material fun and engaging, and had the support of my advisors, older Honors students, and peers throughout my entire journey. The Honors College community is so encouraging, and I would not be here without them,” says Johnson.
Originally from Panama City, Florida, Johnson graduated from Auburn University this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Microbial and Cellular Biology with the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM). Johnson was preparing to be a University Honors Research Scholar way before she knew what the prestigious distinction would mean. “I went to North Bay Haven Career Academy for high school, where I was able to challenge myself academically through vigorous Advanced Placement and Duel Enrolled courses. My high school also offered a health science career track, in which I was able to explore the medical field far earlier than most students,” says Johnson
The distinction is a major milestone that goes down in Johnson’s book as a sweet surprise. “Never in my life would I have guessed that I would be named Auburn’s first University Honors Research Scholar! It is such an honor, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have had such a thorough research experience at Auburn,” states Johnson. “However, the title is not what is important to me. When I was choosing a university to attend, I wanted to pick the one where I was sure that I would leave as a better person than when I entered it four years prior. In reflecting on my time at Auburn and my experience in the Honors College, I am completely confident that in becoming an Auburn woman, I achieved that goal.”
Thanks in large part to her journey as a University Honors Research Scholar, Johnson says that she is entering the next phase of life believing in the power of hard work and convicted of the need to pursue truth with courage and conviction, no matter how challenging that may be.
While at Auburn, Johnson participated in two and a half years of research in the Human Development and Family Studies Department under the direction of Dr. Wendy-Troop-Gordon. Her study examines the relationship between students’ and teachers’ perceptions of conflict resolution strategies used by teachers and the levels of student victimization in elementary school classrooms. Johnson’s research paper is in the final stages of revision before she submits it to the journal for publication.
Johnson admits that she was intimidated by Honors classes as an incoming freshman. She feared that she would not be able to handle the workload. However, that wasn’t the case. “The Honors College curriculum is designed in order to broaden perspectives and encourage critical thinking among its students. Embrace the challenges because they will ultimately mold you into a more inquisitive, well rounded individual,” Johnson says.
Now that Johnson has had the opportunity to blaze the trail of being the first University Honors Research Scholar, she will realize her lifelong dream of attending medical school. In July, she will move to Omaha, Nebraska, to attend the Creighton University School of Medicine.
For more information on the Honors College, or Honors graduation designations, please visit honors.auburn.edu.