Micah Melia had lots of options of where to go to college, and she investigated all of them. KU was on the list for family reasons – she would be the 4th generation to attend KU – but it was academic reasons, particularly the University Honors Program, that ultimately brought her to KU.
“You don’t come here because you can name-drop it. You come here for all those opportunities that the name-drop institutions give you,” she says.
Micah, who is a junior from Prairie Village, felt comfortable at KU and was eager for the challenges that the Honors Program presented.
“I felt like I had a lot more flexibility to change my mind about my major at KU. I knew I could feel special and get away from being just one of 100 students from my high school who goes to school here, because of what the Honors Program offered,” she says.
Micah is a finalist for the Truman Scholarship – one of four Honors Program finalists in this year’s competition – and plans to pursue her Ph.D. in educational policy, with hopes of researching in an academic setting.
She took advantage of the “change your mind” option, arriving at KU planning to major in international studies, and now as a junior she is majoring in anthropology with a minor in psychology.
Micah credits the Honors Program faculty and advisers for showing her and encouraging her to explore the range of majors available at KU – and opportunities off campus to expand on her interests.
Last year, she attended a conference at Harvard University about public policy, and that sparked her interest in education policy, which is what she hopes to pursue as a career.
Last summer, she was selected to the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at the University of Virginia, where she was matched with a faculty member who specializes in education policy research. There, she formulated her own research question and had access to public data sets to pursue analysis, all under the tutelage of an expert in the field.
Her research focused on standardized high school graduation requirements in the state of Michigan and whether more stringent requirements have led the students to achieve more.
“I went to the Leadership Alliance’s national symposium and presented my poster and research. It was a cool experience to get to do,” she says.
Although few students at KU are studying exactly what she is studying, Micah says she has learned a great deal from her fellow Honors students, through University Scholars and her classes.
“There’s never a competitive vibe among the students – most of them don’t come off as arrogant or self-absorbed. They’re just doing all these cool things and are happy to tell you about them,” she says.
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