Honors Roots

Memorabilia from the Honors 50th event on October 11, 2019. Photo by Daniel Oberbauer
Memorabilia from the Honors 50th event on October 11, 2019. Photo by Daniel Oberbauer

by Integrated Studies alumni

Steven Styer participated in the Integrated Studies program from 1969-70. He graduated from UC Davis in 1973 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. His personal reflection is below:

“I was one of the original 35 Integrated Studies students housed in Webster Hall starting in Fall 1969. The only person in the group with an engineering major. None of my suite-mates at Webster were in IS; the group was spread out through the Hall. As such, my subsequent years at Davis did not include sharing later classes with any of my IS peers, and I lost touch with all of them. The burdens of philosophy reading assignments were far more difficult for me than dealing with the likes of chemistry or physics! I graduated in June 1973 earning a BS ChE degree, and went on to Berkeley to pursue graduate studies there also in chemical engineering.  After several stints with large employers, I became a self-employed consulting chemical engineer in 1995, and still work part-time on projects for repeat clients. Life is good! I doubt if any of us in 1969 had any idea that Integrated Studies would evolve into anything like the University Honors Program.

I continue to practice my engineering training part-time as an independent consulting engineer; I founded Styer Engineering in 1995 after corporate experiences at Dow Chemical, Kaiser Aluminum, and Hexcel Corporation. I have began painting again (acrylics) in partial retirement and find gratification in seeing results immediately; a nice change from couples and long-term technical projects. Indeed the most difficult part of many engineering projects is getting all people involved to buy-in to a solution.

My IS experience broadened my horizons, and over time I have come to realize that social issues with no definitive answers can be far more interesting and difficult to solve than topics bound by the simple black-and-white rules of physics, chemistry and mathematics.

I married Margaret ("Peggy") A Hopkins (UC Davis 1974 BA Economics and International Relations) in 1974. We have two adult children and two grandchildren (so far...). We have lived in Phoenix since 1986. Peggy recently retired from a career in supply chain management for a large hospital group organization. We enjoy frequent travel now. Go Ags!”

Lilley Leong participated in the Integrated Studies program from 1981-82. She graduated from UC Davis in 1986 with a degree in Animal Physiology. Her personal reflection is below:

"After a few months in the Integrated Studies (IS) program and life in B-Building, I returned home and met up with my high-school best friend. She commented that I have changed tremendously, less shy, more outgoing. From my perspective and likely my fellow-IS students, I was extremely book-ish, shy and introverted. However, I was meeting people from different parts of California, and making good friends in IS, and I am still in touch with them now. 

Little did I realize how quietly and insidiously IS influenced my intellectual development.

Then, the IS classes were unique in their fusion of different disciplines (for example theology, history, literature), with passionate discussions from earnest freshmen. IS classes and seminars exposed me to provocative ideas, such as the role of science in society (Jacob Bronowski), the nature of scientific revolution (Thomas Kuhn), and social engineering (B.F. Skinner) that had little impact initially, but, upon greater maturity and life-experience shaped my attitudes about these matters. 

Aside from the unique and advanced classes, the best part of IS was living in the same dorm and making close friends. In fact, 6 fellow-IS friends ended up getting married later. While I am a research scientist now, with little need for the "liberal arts" education I received at IS, my intellectual propensity to gravitate toward areas that represent the overlap of two or more scientific disciplines is likely due to the IS education I received as a freshman. 

While IS was not the only influence on my professional development, it was the first and most important, in preparing me for the rest of the college experience, exposed to stimulating ideas and learning how to think for myself."

Carol McMasters-Stone participated in the Integrated Studies program from 1980-81. She graduated from UC Davis in 1984 with a degree in Biological Sciences. Her personal reflection is below:

"I was in Integrated Studies my Freshman year at UC Davis. I was recruited by another IS alum from my High School. We were in B-Building Tercero at that time. I think I met everyone in the building my second day of o-week. It was a great community. Someone from another Tercero building was planning a mixer and I heard her say, 'We should invite B-Building. They go everywhere together, so we'll get a bunch of people.'

I fondly remember the small classes and the seminars. The opportunity to take a small class from a faculty member who was passionate about their subject was wonderful.

My fellow ISers were a creative group with diverse interests and there was always something interesting happening. I got a great start at UC Davis in the IS Program!

After I graduated, I lived in Europe for a couple of years and when I came back, I ended up working on campus. My first official job was as the staff coordinator for the then shared Integrated Studies & American Studies Office. I worked closely with Nora McGuinness on the Integrated Studies Program and I got to wrangle all the details necessary for a residential program. It seemed like every year we had some issue with the dorm. . . it was never dull! Then there was the year the office had to move into what was the Segundo dorms because of a remodel in Sproul Hall. I also worked closely with Jay Mechling (American Studies) and he taught in Integrated Studies as well. The best part of my job was interacting with the Integrated Studies faculty and students. Each year's students had their own vibe, but the community was always tight-knit and successful. I think I was in that office from 1990-1993, or maybe 1994, and I truly enjoyed my time with Integrated Studies."