Lindsey Lilenthal photo

"Honors was critical in my eventual acceptance to graduate school."

Lindsey Lilienthal - Assistant professor in psychology at Penn State Altoona
Vermillion, South Dakota
Major: Psychology

I originally thought I wanted to go far away for college, but I agreed to a campus visit at USD, and am so glad I did. That visit, which included meeting with the Honors program, helped me see USD in a new light. USD provided the resources and opportunities of a much larger institution, while maintaining a sense of community and emphasis on quality undergraduate education that are more common at smaller colleges. It seemed like the best of both worlds.

Being a part of Honors was helpful in many ways. The small classes helped me get to know professors who would be instrumental in me getting involved in research and who were later able to write letters of recommendation that opened many doors for me. The easiest thing for me to point to, though, is the thesis project. Not only did it help me narrow down my research interests (which was important in my ability to identify graduate programs that would be a good fit), but I also believe that it was critical in my eventual acceptance to graduate school. Being able to discuss my research, rather than just my hypothetical interests, during interviews was incredibly important, and the thesis project gave me that.

Some of my most challenging, but also rewarding, classes were part of Honors. I have vivid memories of an Honors seminar on the First Amendment, taught by a law school professor – it was unlike any other class experience I had. In fact, most of my vivid memories from college are related to Honors. I also think Honors classes bring out the best in professors – especially the seminars, where professors have space to experiment and really share their passions. I particularly appreciate that now, as a college professor myself – many of the people I try to emulate and learning environments I try to recreate came from my Honors classes.

"My Honors experience was key in helping me build relationships with students and professors, which helped me determine exactly what I wanted in a career."

Patrick Davis – Product Development Engineer for Ford Motor Company
Yankton, South Dakota
Major: Physics

After diving into research in the physics department, I knew my passion was physics. I found it thrilling, challenging and inspiring.

I chose to be involved with the Honors program at USD because it offered the variety in education that I was seeking. I was able to take such a wide range of classes, which taught me so much more than just the basic science courses I would have otherwise taken.

The program is a unique melting pot of great people, inspiring professors and intellectually challenging and stimulating courses and subject matters. It often takes the student outside of their comfort zone, and it allows a greater scope of the world around them. It helped me get a much better understanding of a much broader subject matter than just math, science and physics. I thoroughly enjoyed living on the Honors floor, and some of my best friends are still those that went through the Honors program with me.

Through my Honors experience, I was able to research and develop a large-scale neuron detector. My research experience was truly incredible. I was able to work with students from across the state and with universities across the country. We even spent two weeks learning about and requesting equipment from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California.

My Honors experience helped me get accepted to the University of California, Riverside, where I received my Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Today, I’m a product development engineer with Ford Motor Company, focusing on interior product development for the F-150. My Honors experience was key in helping me build relationships with students and professors, which helped me determine exactly what I wanted in a career.