Guest Contributor: Joy Hamilton, Student, University of Dayton (Dayton, OH).


While I value my professors and the relationships I have with them, the greater value is what they teach me. For me, success starts at the initial provoked thought. It starts at the spark of interest, that intellectual prod to my brain that sends spark flying and inspires me to ponder, to ask questions. Success begins when I am inspired to open my mind up to a lesson and explore materials, soaking up the subject like a sponge.

I am an admitted and open brainiac; I will own it. For some college students, this means the pompous and snooty student who interjects in class discussions with an all-knowing sense of authority regarding topics. I assure you that I have not allowed myself to get to this level—I am just a kid who really enjoys learning. I am part of a program at the University of Dayton called CORE, a specific Honors program for students who demonstrate strengths in Philosophy, English, Literature, History, Arts, and generally all Humanities courses. UD programs group students of different strengths and different majors together into “Clusters” to best suit their achievement levels, courses, and interests. Each Cluster has its own specific course fulfillment requirements and rules for graduation for that specific degree. My Cluster happened to be CORE—and I am a proud CORE kid through and through! This CORE integration provides students with the opportunity to ask questions, challenging students to be as inquisitive as possible about anything and everything due to its emphasis on and basis in seminar class discussions over academic material. I have grown immensely as a student because of this opportunity. I gained a sense of how to take “flat” topics and augment them on my own by asking “what if?”, making them three-dimensional through personal thought and exploration prompted by genuine interest in course material.

This program has a “rep” on campus for being the most difficult, but I wouldn’t change it for anything, as I have loved every minute of it. It’s all about integrating subjects in order to come to well-rounded understandings that can be applied to multiple facets of academia and to the world.

Other students typically react in a horrified “how are you surviving?” kind of way when they hear I am part of this program, but I don’t care. As I said before, I love to learn in ways that allow me to make connections between subjects From CORE, I gained the ability to relate concepts to one another and come to my own individual understandings and conclusions across all manner of topics, all because I have been sparked to think beyond the individual subjects and allow my mind to “squeeze the juice from the fruit,” if you will.

By always asking “What if,” I am able to take the skills I have learned and not only apply them to each and every one of the courses I have taken in college, but also to build upon them as I have travel beyond those paths of knowledge. As a result, the course materials provide so much more, with words that nearly jump off the pages to crawl into my mind and make me itch to ask questions. This has been the spark for all of my success throughout college.


What helps spark your students’ success? What do you believe ignites their passion for learning? Share your thoughts in the comments below.