Alumna Kellie Masters shares her story

"In business, we talk about competitive advantage as those attributes that lead a company to outperform the competition and earn superior returns. Apple’s competitive advantage is its brand appeal that allows it to command premium prices. Coca-Cola’s is its 'secret recipe' and portfolio of global brands.

People have competitive advantages, too. Mine is my Honors education. It was the experience that defined my college career.

"For example, in my junior year I was approached by three of my Business Honors classmates with a proposition: If I joined their financial analysis team, we might have a chance of winning in the state of Virginia and traveling to Canada for Regionals.  I didn’t know anything about finance, but I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge.  We ended up sweeping the state level and traveling to Toronto to compete against 47 teams from North and South America.  Our final rank was in the top 16 teams in the world.

"Another example: Just weeks after I graduated, my Business Honors capstone professor reached out to two of my classmates and me for help with a consulting project.  Our team researched and interviewed the members of a local nonprofit and delivered recommendations to its board of directors.  I learned many valuable lessons about consulting and was able to apply the skills I had learned to a real-world problem.

I read about the Honors College when I was researching colleges as a senior in high school. When I saw what they had to offer in exchange for the increased commitment and energy, the decision to apply was easy.

"I think it goes back to never turning down a challenge.

 "I continue to be involved in the Honors College today as a part of the Dean’s Advisory Council.  My participation has even afforded me the opportunity of meeting the donor of the Honors scholarship I received for three years as an undergrad.  As an alumna of the Honors College, I have the marketable skillset and experience necessary to differentiate myself from the crowd."