Fifty Years of Memories: A History of the Honors Living Learning Community

Students chatting outside of Currant Hall, the current Living Learning Community for the University Honors Program.
Students chatting outside of Currant Hall, the current Living Learning Community for the University Honors Program.

From a single floor of 35 students in Webster Hall in 1969, to more than 200 students living in all four floors of Currant today, the honors living-learning community has grown, but remains true to its intent: to foster a close-knit community among students with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Celebrating its 50th year in 2019, our living-learning community (LLC) is the oldest in the UC system.

As a current UHP student nearing graduation, I find myself nostalgically thinking back to the time I spent in Currant Hall as a first-year. I knew how important this time was to me; bonding with other students in Currant set the tone for the rest of my undergraduate career. Yet, I never realized how far back the history of our community reached. The students of the programs that developed into UHP, including Integrated Studies (IS), Integrated Studies Honors Program (ISHP), and Davis Honors Challenge (DHC), shared many of the same feelings of warmth and support from the honors community that students continue to experience today.

Finding Community in a Large University

Living together in the honors living learning community creates a foundation for community for incoming first-year students. It can be easy to feel lost in a campus as big as UC Davis, but by starting their undergraduate career in the honors residence hall there are long-lasting friendships ready to be made just a few doors down.

I.S. is a good way to start college: It makes the adjustment easier. Everyone in the program is your friend, even before you’ve met them…" -- Unknown student, 1975-1976

Living with fellow students with completely different life stories, career goals, and hobbies truly enriches the first-year experience. One might discover a new admiration for insects after chatting with their neighbor who majors in entomology, or have an interesting discussion about regional colloquialisms.

“Being surrounded by like-minded individuals [...] practically guarantees that you’ll find your niche in UHP.” --  Kelly N., 2016-2017

"The Community is Always There to Boost Your Spirits"

Of course students also have to find some time for studying, and when you are living in a building with 200 of your closest friends taking the honors curriculum, there is always someone else sharing the same classes. Recent resident, Dana B., “This community has provided me incredible support. Whenever I am struggling on anything academic - from finding the derivatives to writing an essay - I can just go next door and ask for help.”

As first-year students all take one honors class per quarter, study groups and group projects are practically inevitable. It is common to see a few students in the hallway practicing a skit for their class presentation, quizzing each other on potential test questions, or working on last-minute essays just before the midnight deadline.

Even when classes seem bleak, like in the middle of midterm season, the community is always there to boost your spirits or be an empathetic ear.

“There’s nothing like staying up all night with twenty people who have the same assignment… You can all freak out together,” -- Unknown student, 1976-1977

This sentiment remains today. I can remember walking back to Currant Hall with a group of students after a particularly difficult chemistry midterm, collectively overthinking our calculations. Ranting about classes together may not seem too important, but it can be incredibly helpful and validating to know that other students are facing the same struggles as you are and that you can work through them together.

Creating Lasting Friendships

The most significant outcome of living in such an active and friendly community is simply that it is a lot of fun! After you have graduated and find yourself mid-career, you may not look back and remember a specific English essay or a biochemistry principle, but you will remember the experiences you had with the people that made an impact on you. One student from 1974-1975 emphasized this, "Obviously what I like best about Integrated Studies is the people. Many of them I feel like I’ll always know, twenty years from now I could meet them and we’d still be friends.” 

Students throughout the years enthusiastically recall memories of their time in the LLC. In 1987, the Integrated Studies class won the Picnic Day Residence Hall Float Competition with their “Nora’s Arc” tribute for Bixby Hall and their director, Nora McGuinness.

“We've had socials where everyone brings their instrument, and we have a mini concert in the second floor lounge.” -- Kathryn S., 2016-2017

These are just a few of the many memorable stories of students who have participated in the honors residence experience; there is a general consensus that being a part of this community was incredibly valuable for the community, the support, and the strong friendships they made. 

If you have a memory from your time with the honors community that you would like to share with us, consider submitting to Share Your Story so that we can feature you and your experience!