About the Honors College

Student Profiles

headshot of Catherine Gao

Catherine Gao, Class of 2022

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Major: Electrical Engineering

Honors College living-learning program: University Honors

Hometown: Clarksburg, Maryland

A few of my activities: IEEE@UMD President, Technica Organizer, Honors Ambassadors, ECE Peer Mentor, University Honors Peer Mentor, and Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity

What I enjoy most about my living-learning program: I love that I'm able to explore courses and fields that are completely outside of my major. There are a variety of disciplines covered in UH classes, and some of these classes I never expected myself to take, but ended up enjoying immensely. My peers in these classes come from all different backgrounds and majors, and I'm able to have a great level of balance in my course schedule.

Advice for prospective students about choosing a university or college: There are a multitude of factors to consider when choosing a university. Take a campus tour and shadow current students to learn more about the campus culture and determine whether you would be comfortable there. Also, do some research about the academic programs that you are interested in and take note of the resources and opportunities that the school has to offer, as these are important in shaping your college experience.


headshot of Kayla Foster

Kayla Foster, Class of 2021

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Major: Public Health Science

Minor: Sustainability Studies

Honors College living-learning program: Gemstone

Hometown: Bowie, Maryland

A few of my activities: President of Petey Greene Program; Honors College Student Advisory Board; School of Public Health Undergraduate Teaching Assistant; Maryland LEAD Intern; student supervisor, outreach team member, and personal trainer at University Recreation & Wellness; Gemstone Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee Co-Director; research assistant; Honors Ambassador

What I enjoy most about my living-learning program: While the University of Maryland is very large, being in the Gemstone program has given me four years worth of access to brilliant peers and amazing staff that truly care deeply about each and every student. Getting the opportunity to engage in a four year team research project as well as having all of the enriching opportunities to engage and lead outside the classroom (or research lab) has been really crucial in my personal and professional development throughout college!

Advice for prospective students about choosing a university or college: Selecting a college or university can be a very stressful process! I would definitely recommend connecting with current students and faculty who are involved in the programs you are interested in. Try to learn as much as you can about the schools and imagine yourself involved in their majors, student organizations, and activities. Along the way, remember to enjoy the process and consider more than just academics: try to pick somewhere where you can imagine yourself being happy and making lifelong friends!


headshot of Jackson Devadas

Jackson Devadas, Class of 2021

Pronouns: he/him/his or they/them/theirs

Major: Biology (Physiology & Neurobiology)

Minor: Statistics

Honors College living-learning program: Design, Cultures & Creativity (DCC)

Hometown: Kensington, Maryland

A few of my activities: Honors College Student Advisory Board, LGBTQ+ Students and Allies in Public Health, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Lab, Honors Ambassador, Research Assistant at UNC-Chapel School of Public Health

What I enjoy most about my living-learning program: DCC gave me the opportunity to exercise my academic curiosity, while simultaneously enjoying an incredible community. DCC coursework provided me with space to be creative and learn concepts that were outside of my major. I learned non-traditional design methods that centered diversity, inclusion, and equity. Furthermore, the community was absolutely incredible; all of my DCC peers were filled with such kindness and propelled by a desire to change the world for the better. This community has substantially shaped me for the better and it will always hold a significant place in my life.

Advice for prospective students about choosing a university or college: Preliminary PSA: you should always remind yourself that regardless of where you end up going to school, you have the ability to shine and make your mark! Keeping that in my mind, I think that when you are looking at universities make sure that you take a tour or talk to current students, so you get a good idea of the community you are about to enter. This is potentially going to be your pseudo-home for the next four years, so you deserve to be comfortable there! Furthermore, look to see if the university provides you with adequate resources (e.g. job/internship opportunities, research experiences, etc.) to succeed in your prospective major, as well as the room to be curious and expand your interests in multiple disciplines (being interdisciplinary is not a bad thing).