areté Alumni News
The 20th Great Conversation welcomed more than 350 attendees and raised over $250,000.
The Karim Family Legacy
Siblings Jason, Justin, and Alicia Karim flourished within the Honors community, at least partially because it provided a “sense of family…unlike any other college that I’ve seen,” remarked Alicia (’12, Operations Management and Marketing), the youngest sibling. The Karims expanded their Honors legacy when Justin met and married fellow Honors student Nadia.
Oldest sibling Jason (’02, Interdisciplinary Studies), an algebra teacher and volleyball coach, chose Honors because he knew it would enrich his education. “I also loved the idea of a college within a college; being a part of the Honors College allowed me to get a very ‘small school’ experience,” Jason said. “The professors and students knew each other, the class sizes were small, and it felt like being a member of a very close family.”
On the other hand, when it comes to family, Alicia said she “chose Honors despite my siblings going there, rather than for it.” Originally she visited other schools—ones she thought she preferred. When Alicia attended the Honors open house, however, she quickly changed her mind. “The attention I received from the professors and the programs available were unlike any other schools,” she said. It seems to have worked out for Alicia, who graduated from Honors and the Bauer Honors Program in May. As she said, “After a week here on campus, I never looked back and have always been extremely happy with my decision.“
Justin (’06, Marketing) and Nadia (’09, Accounting) met as Honors College students on the University of Houston forensic team. Nadia recalled, “we were assigned to each other as debate partners, and many weeks on the road made us tolerate each others’ presence, then we became friends.” As it worked out, Honors kept pushing Justin and Nadia together, first for an Honors photo shoot and then on an Honors study abroad trip to Italy a few weeks later. “Now that we’ve been married three years and returned to Italy for our honeymoon, the Honors College memories and hilarious brochure photo are a great memento of how two random Honors College students fell in love.”
Family and friends are core to what the Karims appreciate about Honors. As Alicia said, “The friendships I’ve made and the mentors I’ve found are things that I will always remember and be grateful for.” Jason agreed, “My favorite thing about Honors would definitely be the students and faculty. I was surrounded by students who had a passion to learn, and the friendships I made helped shape who I am.”
As Jason hints, though, it goes beyond friendships to academics. Alicia said, “The academic preparation has allowed me to secure my dream job straight out of undergrad.” Nadia’s favorite part of Honors was “the freedom of thought and debate that was practiced in the safety of the abandoned basement.” She said, “In Dr. Price’s class I felt completely free to completely disagree with my professor without worrying about my grade—in fact, the thrill of the Human Situation was always being passionate about the subject matter. It is a rite of passage that trains you in various logical reasoning styles while exposing you to amazing literature.”
As you might expect, their Honors experiences affected how they have approached their careers. Nadia said, “The trials of the Honors College definitely expanded my ability to succeed in graduate school and in my career.” Jason, the teacher, “tries every day to inspire my students and push them to discover things about themselves, like the Honors College did for me.” And Alicia, who wasn’t even sure what she wanted after college, has already had both of her “dream jobs before even graduating—one while a student and the other already secured upon graduation.” She believes that is due to the kind of education Honors provides. “In every interview, the Honors College has come up and stood out... Not only does Honors give you the technical knowledge that you need, but it also teaches the arts of written and verbal communication and creative thinking that differentiate you in the workplace.”
With so much connection to the College, it’s no surprise that the family stays involved. Jason was proud when his siblings followed him to the Honors College, but appreciated it even more because it “allowed me to stay up-to-date with what is happening in Honors, and I have been able to see the incredible progress that the Honors College has made over the last 15 years.” Justin and Nadia were excited to meet with the Honors crew when they were in Phoenix for the National Collegiate Honors Council meeting last year. Nadia said, “thanks to the Honors dinner, I’ve already met some alumni within my city and at the company where I work!” Unsurprising to those who know her, Alicia is even more enthusiastic. On the practical side, she said, “I plan on being an active part of the alumni program and coming back to help students prepare for the next steps after graduation.” She had to add: “I also plan on being at as many UH football games as possible! GO COOGS!”