Some students read science. Others live it.

Collegiate High School student Drager Landry, COM’s first honors scholar, built an ion lifter as one of his four honors projects.

“This [project] was fun. Ion propulsion is a type of technology that uses ionized gas to propel a craft. NASA uses ion thrusters on many of their spacecraft because they're more fuel efficient,” said Landry.

When he tested his ion lifter with his power source, he realized what many scientists, from Thomas Edison to Ben Franklin, discovered.

“There was a spark, then I think it shorted out. I learned that it’s OK to have a failed experiment. Although the lifter never got to get completely in the air, the fact that there was some movement meant that the physics behind it was valid,” said Landry. “In science it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The thing to take from it is there’s always something to learn, and that’s what makes it valuable.”

Landry plans to study engineering at Texas A&M.

“Most of the time, it doesn’t work at first. That’s true even of famous scientists. Failure is necessary,” said physics professor Herman Trivilino. “You can’t figure out what science is unless you do science. That’s why we have projects like this.”

After completing four honors classes and projects, Landry is COM’s first honors scholar.

“I put so many hours in each of those projects. I had to sacrifice a lot of free time, but satisfaction from completing it and what I learned from it made it worth it,” said Landry.

For another project, he turned to his fellow Collegiate High School students, wondering whether those optimistic about schoolwork scored better on exams. He surveyed 60 students. He found no correlation between optimism and grades, so he launched a case study talking with two people with high GPAs but varying degrees of optimism.

“One girl started out by saying she was the queen of ‘almost but not quite.’ Her view motivated her to rise against it. It’s how you take experiences and let them create motivation and that forges academic success,” he concluded.

Landry’s second project covered Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” with government professor John Presnall. Landry read sections of the classic, wrote reviews for Presnall and then they discussed them.

“When I turned [the completed project] in, I had such a great feeling of accomplishment,” said Landry.

For British Literature II with professor Gilchrist White, Landry reviewed William Blake’s poem “Tyger” in the context of religion.

Two of Landry’s projects were awarded at the Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Consortium Academic Symposium, co-organized by professor Dalel Serda. Serda first told Landry about the honors program and encouraged him to go for more than a passing grade.

“I can’t begin to describe how she helped me,” said Landry. “She challenged me but taught me to maintain humility at the same time.”

For more information on the honors program, contact professor Sheena Abernathy at