What Does it Mean to be a Proudian?

Stephanie Shen is a junior majoring in Liberal Studies and Public Policy who is looking forward to advocating for the educational stability of foster care and incarcerated youth in low socioeconomic status communities through policy changes. As a future educator, Stephanie values the importance of understanding the different ways her students process information, and she believes Proudian will help her do just that.

“Being a Proudian means getting comfortable putting yourself in uncomfortable situations that change your perspective, and taking a chance on different people,” she said. 

Being a Proudian means something different for each student, as the program is specifically designed to highlight each undergraduate’s uniqueness. 

According to the official flyer, “the Proudian Interdisciplinary Honors Program brings together exceptional students with outstanding faculty for a challenging and rewarding educational experience. The Program is designed for up to fifteen students in each graduating class who wish to explore interdisciplinary learning. Proudian Scholars transcend disciplinary boundaries and explore new perspectives” through“ studying, presenting, and traveling together.” 

The program owes its existence to Andrew and Salle Proudian, whose contribution was made in honor of Mr. Proudian’s father, Vahe. This is why the full name of the program is the Vahe Proudian Interdisciplinary Honors Program.

Professor Jim Hester officially founded the program in 1977 and designed the Proudian Room, located in Hall of Letters 200. Proudians have exclusive access to this room and use it to study without distractions and connect with their fellow scholars. 

Since Hester, there have been three Proudian Directors. Professors Bill McDonald and Daniel Kiefer each directed the program for an impressive 17 years, and helped to build and sustain the program as it is today. In 2016, Professor Kathleen Feeley of the History Department took over the program. Feeley previously served on the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program advisory, the Bulldog Weekly advisory, the College Writing Advisory, and as chair of the History Department.

Under Professor Feeley’s leadership, the program has continued as a major success, with three out of the last four CAS student commencement speakers being Proudian Scholars. Proudian has also produced a Fullbright Scholar for the last two years. 

Perhaps Proudian scholars are so successful because of the program’s interdisciplinary aspect. Senior Edison Forman recalls his introduction to the program: “What stood out to me was the interdisciplinary aspect. I found the idea of looking at other disciplines through the lens of my majors and vice versa incredibly intriguing, and the diversity of the courses that I would take through the program was unlike any courses I would have taken otherwise.” 

While majoring in Political Science and Public Policy, Edison asserts that “being a Proudian means widening the scope of my education beyond my majors. It means learning about music, art, biology, and other subjects a Political Science major like me would normally have no experience studying.”

In this way, Proudian scholars become well-rounded students who are able to analyze the world around them through many perspectives. 

When asked what his best experience in the program was, Edison recalled his sophomore symposium: “I presented an analysis of Childish Gambino’s music video for ‘This is America’ through historical and political lenses, and it was a joy to research and collaborate with my peers on our panel.” That is what Proudian is all about.

If the Proudian Interdisciplinary Honors Program appeals to you, I highly recommend applying. As a recently admitted member myself, I can testify that the application process is extremely fun and you are sure to meet some of the nicest people at Redlands. 

The application process traditionally takes place in the fall of your sophomore year, as admitted students take a class in both the spring semester and May term of their second year. For example, the spring 2021 class is about gossip in America, and the May Term course will study global literature. However, both classes change every year, as does the senior seminar which Proudians take in their final year at Redlands. 

Current first-year students should look for an email in their inbox from Professor Kathy Feeley in next August or so. This is how most students learn of the program, as sophomore Leslie Estrada did.

She told me that, after receiving the email, she was encouraged to apply “with support and advice from current Proudian scholars” and that she is looking forward to not only “learning but also making new friends and forming a close relation with [her] peers.”

If you are a first year student and the Proudian Interdisciplinary Program sounds appealing to you, bookmark this article and consider applying next year!


  • Cameron Kelly

    Cameron is a fourth-year student from Sunnyvale, California, double majoring in History and Political Science. He occasionally follows current political events and enjoys covering issues local to the university community. Cameron plans to attend law school following graduation.