Thirty-third semester trip for Honors students

group on trip

Pictured (from left): Maddy Smith, Victoria Matiz, Perla Guzman, Aubrey Watkins, Luke McCraw, Neida Perez, Sarah Dierflinger, Michael Rodriguez, Raul Leija, Dr. Drew Murphy, Melody Mott—assistant honors director, Alison Majors, Vanessajane Bayna, Fernanda Aleman, Sam Pollan, Dr. Karyn Skaar, Benjamin Kolodziej—the SMU organist, Skylar Hodson, Michelle Calderon, Victor Diaz, and Kaden Groda. Not pictured, Dr. Andrew Yox—honors director.

By: Dr. Andrew Yox, Honors Director

For the 33nd time, thanks to honors donors such as Drs. Jim and Paula Archer, NTCC honors students were able to take a free, day-trip to a big city. Seventeen students and four faculty drivers left campus at 7:45 a.m., 26 January for a whirlwind experience that began with free breakfasts at Starbucks in Greenville, and ended with the musical, I love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change, in Garland.  The itinerary also included an encounter with the Southern Methodist University organist, Benjamin Kolodziej, shopping and skating at the Galleria, a visit to the Dallas cultural district, a special scavenger hunt designed by Christine Yox of Mount Pleasant, and a late-night stop at Buc-ees.

girls with clown

Neida Perez & Vanessajane Bayna

One novelty with the trip this January was the culture-district scavenger hunt.  Each team received eight clues of places or works of art in the culture district, and each were supposed to photograph themselves at that site.  The winning team, calling themselves the “Circus,” consisted of Fernanda Aleman, Vanessajane Bayna, Perla Guzman, and Neida Perez. Academically, they were already formidable, and they each won $20, coming in first place.

It was the fourth time in ten years that an NTCC group learned about the pipe organ from Mr. Kolodziej.  Before the telephone exchange of the early 1900s, the pipe organ was the most complex invention known to mankind. Kolodziej both conveys the technical aspects of the organ, and demonstrates the ecstatic rhythm and textures of its music.  This year, the honors student group actually had an organist of their number, Sam Pollan, and he and other students took their turn at Kolodziej’s church organ.  The SMU organ is currently being rebuilt, but the university’s Perkins Chapel will soon feature one of the most notable vintage pipe organs in the country, a 1927 E.M. Skinner.


Victor Diaz, Michelle Calderon,
& Raul Leija

Willing faculty drivers, as well as the willingness of NTCC administrators to meet business-office, auditor-related challenges have made the trips possible each semester.  For this trip, honors professors Dr. Drew Murphy, Dr. Karyn Skaar, and Dr. Andrew Yox as well as assistant honors director, Melody Mott served as drivers. 

Honors Northeast is now accepting applications for the 2024-25 school year. 1 March is the deadline for obtaining an optimal scholarship. The program confers institutional and private scholarships, as well as many other amenities. High-school seniors, homeschoolers in transition, parents, and students with less than 30 hours at NTCC are welcome to contact Dr. Andrew P. Yox, Honors Director, at, and/or apply through the honors website.

pipe organ

Victoria Matiz tries the Pipe Organ.