Makenna Betar, an elementary and early childhood education graduate, shares her experiences at Penn State Altoona and with the Schreyer Honors program.
The Schreyer Honors College is Penn State’s University-wide honors program. It comprises a broad set of opportunities for study, research, travel, and scholarly exploration in the arts, humanities, and sciences. The program’s hallmark is an honors thesis that allows students to showcase their diverse intellectual interests in the form of a substantial, independently inspired research or creative project.
Seven Penn State Altoona students graduated this spring from the Schreyer Honors College including Makenna Betar, who earned a degree in elementary and early childhood education. We caught up with Betar to ask a few questions about her experiences.
What made you choose Penn State Altoona?
I chose Penn State Altoona because I am local, and I really loved the idea of a small campus with smaller class sizes. For me, it was so much better than going to a bigger university where I could not make the same connections with people on campus.
Why did you become involved in the Honors College?
At the end of my second year, someone reached out to me about joining the honors college, and I thought it would be a great experience that would challenge me as a student.
What were the advantages of being a Schreyer Honors College student while at Penn State Altoona?
As a requirement I had to do several honors option courses. Because of this, I was able to do extra projects in some of my major-specific classes that were more than what I would have done in the course alone. It made the classes and experiences more meaningful.
What did you learn about yourself and your abilities from being a Schreyer Scholar?
I did not expect to be invited into the Schreyer Honors College, but throughout my journey, I came to see that I deserved and earned it. I am very passionate about school, and I always give my best effort. I think this is something I proved to myself during my time as a Schreyer scholar.
Overall, how was your experience, and do you feel prepared for the next steps in your education/career?
I really enjoyed my experiences through Schreyer’s. My team was amazing, and we worked well together. The research I conducted associated with Schreyer’s also helped me to get a better understanding of what I will encounter in my profession.
What is your advice for others considering combining Penn State Altoona and Schreyer Honors College?
Schreyer’s is a wonderful opportunity for those who work hard and enjoy school. I encourage students to take advantage of it.
What are the next steps for you?
I plan to become an elementary teacher before going back to school to further my education.
Betar’s honors thesis, “Teacher Perspectives of Autism Inclusion,” completed under the direction of Dr. Mary Anne Mong, focuses on gathering teachers’ perspectives of the inclusive classrooms with students with autism.
“Makenna has always been a curious student, asking questions, diving deep in discussions, and thinking critically in her response to readings, so I was not surprised when she approached me about her Schreyer’s Honors project,” says Mong. “She wanted to do something about autism and my area focuses on inclusivity, so we were a good match. She worked hard on the protocols for the Institutional Review Board, which is sometimes the hardest part of the study. From there, she recruited participants and started conducting the interviews. She is a remarkable young woman who will be a great teacher for a few years, but I see a Ph.D. in her future!”
More than 4,000 of the Schreyer Honors College medallions have been presented to Penn State graduates over the years. They are inscribed with “scholarly achievement, integrity of purpose, and intellectual curiosity.” These medals are tangible symbols of the outstanding accomplishments and dedication of these students.