2019 Director’s Reception Award Winners

Honors College Awards:

Edward Gentle III Award: Matthew Ergle

Awarded to a graduating Honors College student in recognition of his or her outstanding scholarship, mental attitude, and leadership qualities over the course of his or her career in the Honors College. To be eligible for the award, the student must complete the entire Honors curriculum, which includes the Senior Capstone Experience.

Distinguished Research Scholar Award: Chloe Haverkamp 

Awarded to the Honors College student whose distinctive research record best embodies the Honors College mission to “pursue truth with courage and conviction.”

Meritorious Service Award: Sam Lubor 

Awarded to the Honors College student whose dedicated service to our local, regional, or national community best embodies the Honors College mission to “serve others with compassion.”

Wayne and Louise Crews Award: Sam Lubor 

Awarded to the Honors College student whose contributions to the Honors College embody the full spirit of the Honors College mission to serve others with compassion, to pursue truth with courage and conviction, to honor the diversity of human experience, and to participate in the creation of a more just world.

Faculty Award:

Professor of the Year: Sarah Hamilton

Awarded to the professor whose outstanding teaching has most inspired, enriched, and challenged Honors College students.

Non-Student Awards:

Honored Alumni Award: Trellis Smith 

Awarded to a graduate of the Honors College whose contributions to the Honors College, to Auburn University, and/or to our broader world embody the full spirit of the Honors College mission to serve others with compassion, to pursue truth with courage and conviction, to honor the diversity of human experience, and to participate in the creation of a more just world.

Jane and Sherman Pitts Volunteer Leadership Award: Lee Christian 

Awarded to an outstanding volunteer who graciously gives their time, talent, and resources back to the Honors College. 


To view all pictures from the event, visit: Our Gallery

RESTORE Research Program

Honors students are known for their ability to constantly find ways to elevate their educational experience, which is exactly what is taking place in the new sex trafficking research study here on Auburn’s campus.

The RESTORE Program is a community based participatory program which focuses on a one-size-does-not-fit-all type of study. RESTORE works together with non-profit organizations, law enforcement, healthcare providers, and, most importantly, the survivors of sex trafficking, in order to gain an understanding of each survivor’s unique experience and how needs may vary from one survivor to another.

Through this research, RESTORE hopes to provide information about better healthcare practices and recovery support.

According to Dr. Lauren Ruhlmann, assistant professor at Auburn University and creator of the program, this type of research is especially important because it is the most practical. Through the work of the RESTORE program, therapists will begin to fully grasp the physical, psychological, and relational health of the survivors of sex trafficking, thus leading to more advanced clinical intercessions.

Dr. Ruhlmann currently has four Auburn Honors College students working as undergraduate research assistants with her, all from a wide variety of majors.

These Honors students range from freshmen to juniors and study neuroscience, microbiology, pre-med, and computer science. She finds it especially beneficial for the freshmen to learn and engage with the older students, including graduate students working with Ruhlmann, in order to fully benefit from researching with the RESTORE program.

The undergraduate research assistants tend to work for seven hours each week if they are volunteering with the RESTORE program, but if the research is for class credit they are in the lab for the duration of their class period. Along with the different projects the students are working on, their responsibilities include coding and entering data, cleaning data in computer software, writing manuscripts, and much more.

Rachel Howell, one of the Honors College students working as an undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Ruhlmann, states that social justice and advocacy have always been large parts of her life and the RESTORE program lets her combine the two, which elevates her love for research.

The students themselves are working on both quantitative and qualitative projects for the RESTORE program.

The quantitative project involves working on a one-size-does-not-fit-all survey, which is an online national resource. This quantitative survey is teaching the students how to translate science to everyday practice and how to communicate that research to the general public.

The qualitative work being done has to do with reading and analyzing the transcripts of interviews with survivors of sex trafficking. These interviews give researchers an insight into issues with healthcare, obstacles in survivors’ relationships, and the social stigma surrounding survivors of sex trafficking. Through this qualitative work, students learn how to incorporate social consciousness into their professions. Instead of seeing a list of symptoms, they will see the patient as a whole.

While Howell’s tasks may change from week to week, she regularly completes nine hours of research each week in the RESTORE lab with a  focus on examining and interpreting the current literature in order to contribute to the on-going projects. She is currently working on the qualitative segment of the project, researching the barriers survivors face, with her main responsibility being the literature review. According to Howell, this literature review specifically involves “reading the current research and interpreting it in order to contextualize your own research.” Once completed, the review will then be presented at a regional conference.

Although Howell finds herself with her own specific tasks, she views the work she does in the RESTORE lab as part of a team. She works directly under Dr. Ruhlmann’s graduate assistants, who not only work on their own research, but assign tasks for individuals on their teams. Howell states that each undergraduate research assistant is assigned projects based on their amount of experience and number of hours at the lab. While these undergraduate research assistants may not be assigned the same project all at one time, they still pride themselves on working together as a team.

When it comes to the future of the program, Howell is interested in combining her time spent in the RESTORE lab with parts of her Honors Thesis project. She specifically wants to include research on “the prevalence rates of body dysmorphia and eating disorders” in survivors of sex trafficking. Through the inclusion of this research, she hopes to be able to determine whether or not it is a significant factor in terms of recovery.

The Honors College itself has proved to be especially beneficial for Rachel Howell. From the start, she found that the Honors College could open her mind to much of the world’s issues. She began her freshman year as a participant in the Honors College k(no)w poverty? Week of Service, which gave her an opportunity to meet friends, but to also “strengthen [her] interest in social advocacy.” In addition to service/learning experience, Howell was introduced to the RESTORE program through the Honors College which then eventually led to her enrolling in an Honors Research Seminar in the Spring 2019 semester. The support the Honors College has given her, and continues to give her, has allowed her to travel and present the research done in the RESTORE lab.

Dr. Lauren Ruhlmann is only in her first year as an assistant professor at Auburn University and she has already managed to bring significant change to campus. Ruhlmann earned her PhD at Kansas State and it was there that she developed the idea to create a research program centered around survivors of sex trafficking.

Before she came to Auburn, Ruhlmann was the director of trauma services for survivors of sex trafficking in a residential recovery program. Through this residential recovery program and her history as a marriage and family therapist, she was able to provide trauma therapy to the survivors in the program. Additionally, Ruhlmann worked as both a clinician and a researcher as she met with these survivors.

Many times Dr. Ruhlmann encountered an issue in the trauma room that could not be addressed or met a survivor with such a level of trauma that she started to wonder if there was anything else that could be done. After finding that there was not much information on the severe levels of trauma she was witnessing, Ruhlmann took it upon herself to help start a one-size-does-not-fit-all national study that is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of its kind.

If you are interested in joining the RESTORE program, you can email Dr. Lauren Ruhlmann (lmr0051@auburn.edu) or reach out to any of the students currently involved. Applications will re-open in the fall for all those looking to join.

Auburn’s New CEO Fellows Program

The CEO Fellows hopes to give students access to a wide-range of CEOs throughout the country and expand their view when it comes to leadership in the corporate world. The first five Honors College students selected to be a part of this program are Katie Burdine, Jacob Puckett, Ryan Smith, Megan Thompson, and Carson Word, and they could not be more excited about it.

Each of these students are in various majors that range from engineering to business, and one is even minoring in German. Most say they were drawn to the program due to its leadership aspect and ability to introduce skills needed in entry level jobs all the way to CEO.

Member Carson Word, states that he wanted to find an organization that would allow him to be involved in the Honors College specifically. Word, who is a civil engineering major, explains that the program also “allows [him] to have some business experience without adding a separate major or minor.”

This program is specifically designed to expand upon the students’ pre-existing leadership abilities. Ryan Smith explains that “by learning the methods of real business leaders” he is able to enhance these leadership abilities “as well as develop relationships with mentors to further encourage personal and professional growth.” In addition to the group having the opportunity to set up video conferences with the program’s founder, Jeff Cohn, they will soon be able to be partnered with a CEO of a major company who will act as a mentor to the student.

The program itself is partially online and partially in-person, with meetings held every other Wednesday. These meetings, run by Honors College Director Dr. Tiffany Sippial, typically consist of the group discussing their progress so far and the steps they have covered with their online materials. Currently, the students are working together to “come up with a solution within the Honors College” to enact positive change on Auburn’s campus says Katie Burdine.

When it comes to the plans these students have for the future of the Auburn CEO Fellows program, each sees a lot of opportunity for development and growth. The students are interested in helping the program advance, even after they complete the program, and encourage more Honors College students to become involved.

Without the Honors College, these students would not be able to experience a program like CEO Fellows. Along with this opportunity, the students feel as if even their educational experience at Auburn would have been drastically different. According to Jacob Puckett, the Honors classes allow him to “have a class of 20 instead of 120,” giving him a more in-depth education. Word agrees and adds that he appreciates the fact that he can be “around other students who think like you and who are able to help you out,” when added into those smaller Honors classes.

If you would like to know more about the CEO Fellows program and how to get involved, email Dr. Sippial (tat0004@auburn.edu) or visit the CEO Fellows website (https://ceofellows.com/).

Katie Burdine, Sophomore

Major: Supply Chain Management

Minor: German

Jacob Puckett, Freshman

Major: Chemical Engineering

Ryan Smith, Freshman

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Megan Thompson, Senior

Major: Marketing

Carson Word, Freshman

Major: Civil Engineering

Rebecca Shippen New Coordinator of Student Recruitment

The Honors College is thrilled to introduce our new Coordinator of Student Recruitment Rebecca Shippen. Ms. Shippen started a few weeks ago, and is excited to begin her journey with the Honors College at Auburn University!

Let's get to know Ms. Shippen.

Name: Rebecca Shippen

Hometown: Montgomery, AL

Degree(s): B.A. English, Huntingdon College

Why did you choose those degrees?

I love to read, research, and study different cultures and history.

What brought you to the Honors College?

I have a passion for Auburn University and for helping students be successful in all of their endeavors, while here at Auburn and beyond. When the opportunity presented itself for me to come to Honors and be able to share my love of Auburn and my experiences here with incoming students and their families, I just knew that this was the right place for me.

Do you have any hobbies?

I have two-year-old twins so they tend to keep me very busy these days, but when I do have free time I like to read, binge watch a good Netflix series, try out new restaurants, and travel. I love museums and libraries so they are always at the top of my must see list when I go somewhere.

What are small things that make your day better?

Always having coffee, starting a new book, and having dinner with a friend.

Movies, TV, or Books- or all three? 

Definitely all three!

You'd be surprised to know that I can...

Professionally and seamlessly gift wrap and make bows.

What do you hope to accomplish here in the Honors College? 

I began my academic career here at Auburn and loved it, but I ended up graduating from a small liberal arts school. I loved the unique and individualized experience that I had there as well as the lifelong connections that I made. The Honors College is unique in that we try and create a smaller liberal arts shool environment for our students inside the larger university experience. I hope to be able to showcase all of the wonderful things that we have to offer to incoming students and help them to really feel at home here in the Honors College and at Auburn. We have such a talented team that is very invested in our students and wants to help them succeed in any way that we can.

What are you most excited about working at the Honors College?

I am excited about the opportunity to share and create a welcoming, engaging, unique, and academically successful college experience for our students during their time at Auburn.

What advice would you give an Honors College student?

Take advantage of all the resources that Auburn and the Honors College have to offer, do not be afraid to ask questions, and step outside of your comfort zone and explore the world around you.

Do you have a favorite Auburn memory/ or Auburn area memory?

I have a lot of great Auburn memories, but two of my favorites are being at the "Kick Six" Iron Bowl in 2013 and stepping back on campus as an employee of Auburn.

Best way to contact?

Email is probably the best way to get in touch with me, ras0072@auburn.edu, but you're always welcome to stop by Cater for a visit.

Picture of Rebecca Shippen

Getting to know: TeKisha Rice

TeKisha Rice is an Auburn University Honors College Alumna pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with aspirations to attain a tenure-track professor position at a research university. Her time as a student in the Honors College encouraged her to pursue meaningful research and engage in critical discussions about a variety of social issues, transforming her career trajectory. TeKisha has picked up several exciting hobbies since she was at Auburn, let’s read more about her to find out.

Name: TeKisha Rice

Degree: M.S. (held); Ph.D. (in progress)

Graduation Date: 2015 (AU); 2020 (expected)

Current Title: NSF Graduate Research Fellow

Current Employer: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

What brought you to the Honors College at Auburn University?

I had taken honors courses in high school and was interested in doing the same throughout college. Initially I was interested in the prestige that came with being affiliated with the Honors College but I soon learned there was much more to be gained. I stayed in the Honors College because of the ways it uniquely enriched my learning experiences while at Auburn. I was encouraged to pursue meaningful research and engage in critical discussions about a variety of social issues. Enrolling and remaining in the Honors College was one of the best decisions I made during my undergraduate career.

How did your Honors College experience shape your career path?

The Honors College is one of the main reasons I became involved in undergraduate research which transformed my career trajectory. When I initially learned of the undergraduate thesis I thought it was interesting but was unsure whether it was for me. With the encouragement of mentors, I completed the honors thesis and presented the findings at a national conference. My experience with undergraduate research and the honors thesis steered me towards graduate school and a career in academic research. Completing the thesis gave me a level of preparation for graduate school unmatched by any other undergraduate experience. My undergraduate honors thesis became my first peer-reviewed publication.

What advice or insight do you have for future and current Honors students?

My best advice would be to get uncomfortable! Push yourself to do things even when you aren’t sure you will succeed. Believe your mentors when they tell you that you’re ready for something new or more challenging. Growth occurs just outside of your comfort zone so reach out to that professor, write that paper, and apply to your top choices of jobs and schools. Nothing is beyond your reach with a little hard work, but be sure to take care of yourself too.

What are your future career goals?

My future career goal is to attain a tenure-track professor position at a research university.

To date, what is your greatest professional accomplishment?

My greatest professional accomplishment would have to be attaining my National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. While at Auburn I actually applied for the Rhodes and Mitchell national prestigious scholarships. Although I did not receive these, the process helped me refine my research interests and writing skills which greatly contributed to me completing a strong application for the NSF GRFP.

If you received a scholarship, how did that impact your time at Auburn University?

I received multiple scholarships during my time at Auburn, however, it was only in my senior year that those scholarships added up to cover the full cost of tuition. Scholarships lessened the financial burden associated with college. I was able to complete my degree at Auburn because of financial support from many donors!

Any fun facts or hobbies we should know about you?

I’ve taken up a few hobbies since starting grad school – things I’ve always wanted to do. My favorites have been an adult gymnastics class and a women’s boxing class!


Tekisha Rice headshot

Cater Hall Under Construction

As many of you may have noticed, the back porch of Cater Hall is undergoing renovations. This short-term project at Cater Hall will help bring our porch up to code and into better alignment with the early twentieth-century architectural design. Project lead Hank Moreman, an Auburn University alumnus, answered a few questions about this construction and how it will affect students and Cater Hall as a whole.


When is the completion date?

We are hoping to be completed by November 16th.

Why are you all doing this project?

We believed that the structure has begun to become compromised by water.  It has not rotted yet, but would have eventually. Aesthetically, it has been an eyesore where the trim pieces have already rotten.

Who is doing the work?

In-House Construction, which is part of the Maintenance Division of Facilities Management. Johnny Clark will be handling the project management and the field leadership will be done by Darrin Moody. I felt that this was the best team that I could have assigned to the project due to the historical elements that needed to be catered to.

What roughly are you doing?

We are completely removing the roof and columns of the back porch and rebuilding them.  Also, we are altering the window above the porch roof. These two things will enable us to slightly increase the pitch of the roof as we build it back, thus enabling it to look nice for another 100 years.

One of the most exciting aspects of this project is that we will be reclaiming parts of the structure (the ceiling boards and the heart pine framing) and reusing them for other projects within the university (these are yet to be determined). In my pre-Auburn faculty days, I was, among other things, a furniture maker and I’m glad to be able to use that skill set to make Auburn a better, greener and cooler place.

Yvette Stone New Honors Advisor

The Honors College is thrilled to introduce our newest academic advisor Yvette Stone. Ms. Stone started earlier this week, and is excited to begin her journey with the Honors College at Auburn University!

Let's get to know Ms. Stone.

Name: Yvette Stone

Hometown: Gulf Shores, AL

Degree(s): M.A., History (Auburn University); B.A., History (Auburn University)

Why did you choose those degrees?

I always joke that History was my first love. I am an avid reader and as a kid I loved getting lost in detailed historical fiction. When I came to Auburn, I was not quite sure what I wanted to do career-wise, but I knew that I was going to major in History. I couldn’t imagine spending my time studying anything else. When I got to my senior year, I still was not sure which direction I wanted to go in after graduation, so I decided to stay at Auburn and earn my Master’s in History as well. During that time, I was a graduate teaching assistant and a tutor over in the athletic department. Both of those experiences led me into a career in higher education.

What brought you to the Honors College?

I started my career in higher education working as an academic advisor at the University of South Alabama. At South I got the opportunity to work closely with Honors College students and enjoyed every second. When an opportunity presented itself to return to Auburn and work with the astounding Honors students here, I jumped on it. I am thrilled to be here and can’t wait to get to know everyone.

Do you have any hobbies?

Most of the time you can find me reading or bingeing Netflix. I also love to travel. My husband and I try to find one or two fun destinations each year and we are also trying to visit all 50 states. Next on our list is the Pacific Northwest.

What are small things that make your day better?

A Coke Icee and any kind of donut. Also walking around campus and seeing students enjoying their university experience. I loved my time as a student at Auburn and I am excited to be back and close to the action!

Movies, TV, or Books- or all three? 

All three! In addition to reading and hanging out on the couch watching TV, I am the proud owner of the AMC refillable popcorn bucket and go to the movies all the time…mostly for the popcorn.

You'd be surprised to know that I can...

When chewing bubble gum, I can blow a bubble inside a bubble inside another bubble…aka a triple bubble.

What do you hope to accomplish here in the Honors College? 

I hope to be a resource to students during the entirety of their undergraduate experience. Being a student is a full-time job, and Honors students in particular have a lot on their plate. I want students to know they can come talk to me about their highs and lows and everything in between.

What are you most excited about working at the Honors College?

I am excited to be surrounded by students who are invested in their education and have an incredible curiosity about the world and their place in it. College is a transformative time and I am excited to be a small part of that process with Honors College students.

What advice would you give an Honors College student?

I would encourage students to take advantage of all the resources the Honors College has to offer. There are so many things to get involved with, whether that is undergraduate research, study abroad, internships, or community engagement. If I could go back and give my freshman self some advice, it would be to get involved in all of these opportunities sooner rather than later. Before you know it, graduation will be here!

Do you have a favorite Auburn memory/ or Auburn area memory?

Too many to count! Other than being a student during our national championship year in 2010 (War Eagle), one of my favorite memories is the West Virginia football game my freshmen year. It started to pour during the first half, and while the majority of the stadium left during the rain delay, almost the entire student section stayed. We stood for over an hour dancing to music and getting completely drenched. It was one of the best games I’ve ever been to—we were just enjoying being Auburn students and wanted to represent our team regardless of how wet we got (very).

Best way to contact?

I check my email constantly, so feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

Yvette Stone headshot

Getting to know: Adrianna Crossing

Adrianna Crossing is an Auburn University Honors College Alumna with a passion for fighting against social injustice, working closely with families, and learning through research. Adrianna is a doctoral student in the School of Psychology at Michigan State University that hopes to combine her passion of working with families and learning in a university setting. Her time as a student in the Honors College was an integral part of her educational journey.

Let's get to know Adrianna

Name: Adrianna Elizabeth Crossing

Degree: BA in Psychology

Graduation Date: May 2014

Current Title: Doctoral Student, School Psychology, College of Education, Michigan State University

Program Assistant, MSU Dialogues, Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, Michigan State University

Current Employer: Michigan State University

What brought you to the Honors College at Auburn University?

The Honors College at Auburn offered me an incredible support package that was unrivaled at any other institutions I applied to. I received individualized advising and guidance, a connection to an honors research mentor within my own department, an organization created specifically to support students who looked like me, and a competitive scholarship package. When it came time to pick where I would spend the first 4 years of my adulthood, it was a no brainer!

How did your Honors College experience shape your career path? 

I would day three honors experiences in particular were the beginnings of threads that are still prevalent in my life today. First of all, my first honors English class taught me that skating by like I did in high school was not going to cut it. I decided to take the same professor the next semester and fully commit myself to the readings, essays, discussions, and exams in a way that I had not before. That level of dedication to my studies prepared me for and propels me through my current doctoral program.

Second, my experience with Undergraduate Research made me into the budding social scientist I am today. I did research for almost three years at Auburn with a professor in the psychology field. If that isn't a testimony to the critical role of those experiences in my life, I don't know what is!

Lastly, I worked closely with Dr. Ken Thomas and many other students on Diversity in Honors while I was at school. Under his guidance, I learned to ask questions about the success of and barriers for diverse students. I have not taken a break from this work since we started in 2011. Recently, I was named to a social justice committee for my field's national organization, where I will continue to advocate for diverse students of all ages.

What advice or insight do you have for future and current Honors students?

Listen to your advisors and mentors! Take risks! There are opportunities I now have access to today because of a one-off conversation with an honors professor seven years ago. Support each other, study together, serve the community together, grow together. I am still close with almost all of my honors college friends, many years after graduation. These bonds can be for life!

What are your future career goals?

I will likely be some combination of university faculty and practicing licensed psychologist, whether that be a full-time clinician and an adjunct appointment, or a full-time tenure-track faculty position with a small caseload at a clinic. Working with children and families is a must, but I recently started considering adding teaching and research to that "career goals" picture. All of this time in school has nurtured a love of learning and research and I hope to return to academia as a professor so that I can create new spaces for learning and research for the next round of students.

If you could say thank you to the donor who helped fund your scholarship, what would you tell them?

My scholarship allowed me to use my existing college savings for graduate school, and to continue to save throughout college instead of spending it on tuition. As of 2018, eight years after I graduated high school, I am still student debt free. This is an incredible blessing that I do not take for granted for even one second, and I have my donor(s) to thank.

Were you part of any organizations in the Honors College? 

I worked closely with Diversity in Honors when I was at Auburn. The group of students that participated with me became like family to me. We still support each other's accomplishments and lend an ear whenever we can . I was also an Honors Ambassador, which was just a ton of fun! I loved meeting prospective students and families while working closely with our Honors College faculty and staff to coordinate recruitment efforts!

headshot of Adrianna Crossing

Honors Student Spends Summer Interning in Nepal and Fighting Exploitation

Lindsey Olive spent her summer trekking through villages nestled between breathtaking mountains while contributing to ethical business practices in a country plagued by exploitation from tourists. Through an internship with ethical company “Five14 Nepal,” Lindsey spent her summer in the villages of Nepal learning how to fight the exploitation locals face every day while contributing to businesses that promote ethical practices. She was able to learn through immersion; experiencing once in a lifetime opportunities such as paragliding while working towards a cause she feels passionate about.


Read about Lindsey's homestay trek, internship, and unforgettable experiences in Nepal in her own words.

Lindsey Olive in traditional Nepali dress
Lindsey in Nepal village with other interns and locals
Lindsey Olive on homestay trek through Nepal

Homestay trek

My favorite moments in Nepal were spent in homestays nestled into a valley of the Himalayas.  While trekking, we took water breaks and looked up to see snow-capped mountains while our guides played the ukulele and sang Nepali songs. We trekked across wooden bridges and ran from leeches and washed off in freezing cold mountain streams. At the villages, our time was often spent laughing over cups of hot ginger tea, fresh popcorn, and heaping piles of dal bhat. Every morning I woke up to breathtaking views of what I initially thought were mountains and would soon come to know them as only hills.  Our homestay trek was not only a great window into life of rural communities in Nepal; but was also a form of sustainable development for villages prone to exploitation.

Five14 Nepal battling "voluntourism"

During my time in Nepal, I traveled, stayed, and interned with an ethical business called “Five14 Nepal.”  Five14 is a group of businesses that operate with a purpose: to prevent all types of exploitation in the country.  Areas of Nepal are often susceptible to various forms of exploitation such as human trafficking, child labor, and corruption because of the lack of income-generating opportunities.  In order to combat this, Five14 operates to bring tourism development opportunities to vulnerable populations.

The topic of development strategies has been brought up several times in my Honors Hunger Studies and Global Studies classes.  Last fall, one of our problem-based learning cases in Hunger Studies focused on the dangers of “voluntourism.”  Often, tourists with good intentions travel to different countries looking for ways to give back to their host communities.  Due to the influx of travelers going on voluntourism trips, a multi-billion-dollar industry has been created to make travelers feel good about the positive change that they are supporting; when in reality, people are taking advantage of the tourism opportunities and creating another form of exploitation.  An example of this is called “orphan tourism,” in which (often unqualified) tourists visit orphanages and play with the children for a day.  If the orphanage is real and functioning, activities like this only serve to harm the children, emphasizing attachment disorders in consequence of the consistent arrival and departure of people who care for them.  What this also does is influence the orphanage to become more like a business—in which those in charge keep the environment in bad condition in order to gain more donations from the tourists.  In our Hunger Studies discussions, we talked about how important it was that tourists have specialized skills that are truly needed in the countries they are visiting if they are looking to volunteer.

Lindsey with group of interns and locals in Nepal village
top of a building in Nepal with colorful flags
Lindsey parasailing over Nepal

Wrapping up an unparalleled experience

The week I spent traveling through picturesque Himalayan valleys, the day I paraglided over the beautiful city of Pokhara, the afternoon I explored the jungles of Chitwan, and other once in a lifetime memories, all supported the end of exploitation in Nepal through my investment into an ethical business. My homestay trek brought income to the family that fed and housed me, supported the building of schools, and helped introduce new ideas and perspectives to the local people.

This summer was integral in understanding that both prevention and cure development strategies can be successful—if done thoughtfully.  It is no secret that most foreigners come to Nepal to experience their amazing adventure opportunities and famous hospitality. Travelers have to understand that by simply investing their money into the economy and responsible businesses, they create opportunities that truly benefit their host communities instead of ignorantly supporting exploitation and ineffective forms of development.

close up of monkey on Nepal streets
window of an airplane with Mount Everest in the distance
close up of elephant in Nepal

Story and images provided by Lindsey Olive.

Getting to know: Dr. Tiffany Sippial

A love of Latin American culture, world travel and a great cup of coffee are just a few traits that describe the newest member of the Honors College staff, Honors Director Dr. Tiffany Sippial. With the beginning of fall semester just around the corner, the Honors College is excited for the future as Dr. Sippial charts a course towards creating an environment where Honors College students not only achieve academic success, but honor their dreams in the process.

Let's get to know Dr. Sippial

Name: Dr. Tiffany Sippial

Hometown: Huntsville, Texas

Degree (s): Ph.D., Latin American History (University of New Mexico); M.A., Latin American Studies (University of New Mexico); B.A., Spanish (Southwestern University); B.A., Art History (Southwestern University)

Why did you choose those degrees?

I fell in love with my region of study (Latin America) before I fell in love with a specific discipline. Pursuing an M.A. in Latin American Studies was the perfect fit for me, as it allowed me to stay broad in my approach to Latin America before I decided to define myself as an historian. Being an historian allows me to draw upon all of the tools and approaches to research and learning that I developed over the course of my undergraduate and graduate studies. Historians look to art, literature, archeology, political science, and foreign language sources in their work, and that is what makes it such an exciting and rewarding field.

What brought you to the Honors College?

I have had the great pleasure of leading two Honors Study and Travel groups to Cuba and have taught a variety of Honors classes over the course of my eleven years at Auburn. My interactions with Auburn’s Honors students have always been wonderfully enriching and rewarding, as have been my interactions with the amazing Honors College staff. When the opportunity arose to continue my work with the Honors College as the director, I was thrilled. I could not be more excited about the future of the Honors College.

Do you have any hobbies?

I am the proud parent of a wonderful four-year-old boy, so I have acquired some new hobbies as a result—most of which revolve around toy trains, cars, trucks, and anything motorized. Travel is still my favorite thing in the world, and I try to make time to read fiction as often as possible.

What are small things that make your day better?

Small things that make my day better are a great cup of coffee, a phone chat with a friend or loved one, and having a few minutes of quiet time to write. I also love connecting with a current or former student to hear about his or her most recent adventures and accomplishments!

Movies, TV, or Books – or all three?

I love all three! I thank my father for encouraging my love of movies and both of my parents are avid readers. A great weekend for me includes some reading during the day followed by gathering our favorite snacks and sitting down to watch a great movie--which is often animated these days—in the evening.

You’d be surprise to know that I can …

Sing the names of all 50 states in alphabetical order in under 30 seconds.

What do you hope to accomplish here at the Honors College?

My vision for the future of the Honors College centers on increasing the number and variety of research and internship opportunities available to our students. We are hard at work on our new marketing materials, so be sure and be on the lookout for what we have in store for our current and future Honors students!

What are you most excited about working at the Honors College?

Our incredibly talented students are the heart of our program, and I am dedicated to helping them achieve their dreams. The Honors College students motivate our staff to be and do our very best and we are definitely up for the challenge.

What advice would you give to an Honors College student?

Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone! The Honors College offers our students so many exciting opportunities for research and internships, service engagement, and domestic and international travel. If travel to a foreign country seems daunting, for example, use your time in the Honors College to conquer that fear and learn something new about yourself and the world in which we live. You won’t regret it!

Do you have a favorite Auburn memory / or Auburn area memory?

I have so many great memories related to Auburn University that it would be hard to remember just one. I have to say, however, that walking into Cater Hall on my first day as director ranks pretty high!

Best way to contact?

I am always available by email, no matter where I am in the world. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about the Honors College experience. My office number is 334-844-5810 and my office hours are: Mondays, 8:30-9:30 am and Thursdays, 2-3 pm. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tiffany sippial in her office