Music and tennis programs put University of Lynchburg on the map for Juan Borga ’20, but the challenge and opportunity of the Westover Honors program helped put it at the top of his list.
Juan was the first-year speaker at the recent induction ceremony for the Westover Honors Program, which provides an in-depth, interdisciplinary curriculum for high-caliber students at LC. Like other Westover students before him, Juan appreciates how the program is helping him stretch his mind and reach his potential.
“I like it when I’m challenged. It allows me to work harder for myself and gain more knowledge,” he said. “It makes me feel better if I know more and I work for it too.”
Originally from Argentina, Juan lived in Maryland for several years as his father worked for an international development program. His family then moved to Japan for the past nine years. Juan plans to major in business or management, but he appreciates the opportunity to enjoy music classes, too. He has played the flute since fourth grade.
He likes the camaraderie he feels with other Westover students. “We have a lot of variety,” he said. “Everyone has multiple things that they’re skilled in. We’re going to be able to impact the College in many different ways.”
Just a few years ahead of Juan, Sarah Nicoletti ’17 looks back on the Westover Program as an experience that has expanded her horizons.
When she was accepted to LC, she knew that she would want to participate in the Westover program. “I had always taken challenging classes throughout my academic career. That was something I wanted to continue,” she said.
The variety of colloquia classes designed for Westover students has been one highlight of Sarah’s experience at LC. “The Westover program gives you the opportunity to take classes that aren’t necessarily related to your major, but are very interesting,” she said. Medical ethics and the politics of sport are two topics that opened her eyes. Currently, she is taking “Fat America,” a class that examines obesity from a variety of angles, including nutrition, high-stakes weight loss programs, and fast food. The class members also are working on food-focused research.
A communication studies major, Sarah also is working on her senior Westover thesis, a research project that requires her to examine a subject from an interdisciplinary standpoint. She is researching the marketing and messages associated with the “Meatless Monday” movement, which encourages people to forego animal products every Monday.
Both Juan and Sarah point out that the honors program isn’t easy, but they see ways it pays off. Elizabeth O’Hara ’15 is well aware of that. After four years of intense, discussion-based classes in the Westover Honors Program, her graduate school at Georgetown University come naturally to her. “I was surprised how well Westover prepared me for going to graduate school,” she said. “Not just any graduate school, but a pretty good one.”
At Georgetown, Elizabeth is studying democracy and governance, with a focus on the role corruption and economic development play in a new democracy. Last summer, she worked with Amal Ou Salam, a program that helps teenage Syrian refugees become integrated into new schools. She recently visited campus to speak to current students about that experience in the Middle East.
Those types of experiences make it worth having gone through a program that helped her reach her potential. “You only get out what you put in,” she said of Westover. “You are expected to do the hard work. Nothing is handed to you. But you’re supported throughout the way.”