Honors Portfolio

Growing Intellectually 


My semester abroad was one I don't exactly have the words to explain. I studied at Harlaxton College in Grantham England and it was by far the best decision I have ever made. I took three classes at Harlaxton: (The required) British Studies, Political Philosophy, and Irish Literature. Each class challenged me in new ways and exposed me to information not accessible to me in the States. 

British Studies: 
This was required class for all students studying at Harlaxton. The timeline starts at the Roman invasion of Britania and works its way to today. Essentially, they just hit us over the head with 2000 years of history in one semester. The lectures, given by the oh so smart and hilarious british studies team were at 8:30 Monday and Wednesday mornings. After the lectures we would all split into our seminar classes to dive deeper into the content of the lecture. We read Shakespeare's Henry the IV, John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, and Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. With each text we read, we discussed its effect of England and England's effect on it. I found the history to be so old and rich and complex, I didn't mind going to early morning lectures. 

Political Philosophy: 
As a Literature and Communications major, I often come into contact with philosophers during my readings so I decided to take Political Philosophy. The reading was light, only 934 pages of everything from Plato's Republic, to Hegel's Dialectic. There were often parts of my Political Philosophy class that overlapped with my British Studies class. This was the class that really encouraged me to challenge myself and connect texts and concepts on a more intellectual level than before. 

Irish Literature: 
This was by far my favorite class I took this semester. I found everything about Ireland and its authors utterly fascinating. What I found most interesting about Ireland was its identity independent of England's. To us, here in the United States, Ireland doesn't really exist. We know it's there but unless we're celebrating St. Patrick's day, or thanks to U2 singing 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', Ireland doesn't really come up in discussion. When in the class I learned that those involved in the Celtic Revival would have laid down their lives for their cause and country. I was particularly drawn to this concept because as Americans, we don't necessarily have a bond with the land we live on. To the Irish, (Maybe all expect James Joyce)  the land is sacred.  It's part of their identity. I really found a sense of vocation when I took this class. I am making it my mission to receive a PhD in Irish Literature and to hopefully teach it at the college level. 

FALL 2012
This is a place where I, Jenna Sickenius will be compiling evidence of my academic growth and intellectual findings.


This fall semester has been especially challenging for me. I took on two honors classes, each with a heavy reading schedule and I changed my extra curricular activities. The two honors classes I took were; Honors Seminar, and International Relations. Each class challenged my mind in different ways allowing me to expand my thoughts on the world. My extra curricular activities changed from Theater and Student Government to Volleyball and the new on campus coffee shop, Nelson 116.

Honors Seminar: I decided to join the honors program here at Bethany as a sophomore because I felt the need to be academically challenged. The texts we read in Seminar have shifted my views on humans, and nature and life, as we know it. I have a broader view of the world and I am more accepting to the ideas of those so different from me. I feel confident that this class helped me grow as a student and prepared me for my future as a hopeful lawyer.

International Relations: I have taken American history and World history but I have never studied the history of foreign policy. In my Honors International Relations class I was able to do just that. There were five students, including myself. And collaboratively, we chose the three (dense academic texts) for the class and created a curriculum. This was my first time being involved with the planning of a class. It taught me to be self-driven and persistent. Every time the reading got tough I had to remind myself that I had a significant part in choosing the books for the class. For our final paper we had to pick a topic under the international relations umbrella and write 15-20 pages on it. I wrote on U.S - China relations and the effect of China’s new government changes on the United States. It challenged me in several ways. I knew nothing about China, so the research was immense. I was clueless and economics so I had to buckle down and comprehend my research. And to top it all off, it was the longest page requirement I have ever had. Successfully finishing this class was a growing moment for me because the class allowed me to push myself outside of my academic comfort zone.

Volleyball: Over the spring semester of my freshman year I joined the Bethany Volleyball Team. This fall was my first season of a collegiate sport and it taught me a lot. I had spent two years away from volleyball before joining so I had a lot of catching up to do. Being on the team pushed me physically and mentally. It aided in my studies because with all the exercise I was able to think clearly and push myself academically. If done correctly, sports can form a well-rounded student leader and that’s why I started playing again. I felt that some of the values like sportsmanship, honesty and health were necessary in my life. Volleyball challenged my body and my mind to continue getting better, always.

Nelson 116: Last year, when the finishing touches were being done to the new on campus coffee shop, I expressed my interest in managing it. As a baker with a chef for a mother I was drawn to the idea of some culinary opportunity. I was asked to be the baker and manage the coffee shop along side a few others like Lauren von Klinggraeff. The idea for the coffee shop was to uphold the Bethany core value of sustainability. Not only do we have a direct relationship with our suppliers from around the world, we have also acquired donations in the form of furnishing and supplies. Virtually everything we do is environmentally conscious. I was drawn to this idea because it has been on of my pipe dreams to open a bakery sometime in my life. Nelson 116 allows students like me to experience what it’s like to run a business before jumping into the real thing.

In summation, I have grown up a great deal this semester. I have learned to make decision based on my happiness and wellbeing rather than everyone else’s and I have stretched myself intellectually. I feel like I am filling up a glass of really good water and at the end, drinking the success is going to be more than worth it. I feel prepared to travel abroad...alone and see world through my new eyes. So thank you fall semester, you pushed me. You beat me down so I’d pull myself up and be ready to conquer the UK. So I can honestly say, Keep Calm and Bring it On. 

Spring 2012
Honors Shakespeare:

Fall 2012
Honors International Relations:

Honors Seminar:

Spring 2013
Harlaxton College, UK

Fall 2013
American Literature:
English Novel: