by Joanie Eppinga
Incoming freshman Michaela Jarvis '20 during the Young Scholars summer experience
“It’s so quiet here!” said Janee Greenidge '19, a legal studies major, when she arrived at Nazareth last year. For Greenidge and other students in the College’s Young Scholars Program, transitioning from the inner city to a small, tree-filled campus can be surprising—but usually in a good way.
The Young Scholars Program, begun in 2014, recruits academically talented students from high-achieving secondary schools in metropolitan areas. Ongoing relationships with teachers, administrators, and parents from partnership schools help convey the value of an academic, social, and cultural experience at Nazareth. The students, who tend to focus on science, math, or business-related majors, receive financial, emotional, and practical support.
Gabriel Marshall, director of the program, explains that Young Scholars receive two unique summer experiences, one assisting with the transition from high school to college and one, which includes internships or work assignments, focused on personal and professional development.
“They showed us around the school and gave us classes in decision making and time management, so I felt like I got to adjust to college before I even started,” says Greenidge. Jessy Dwyer '18, an accounting major from Brooklyn who is in his junior year, agrees. “Right from the beginning,” he notes, “they set us up for success—made sure we were a part of the campus. And they let us know we had a good reputation to uphold.”
Support coupled with high expectations is the foundation of the program, according to Marshall.
“We push the students,” he says. “But every one of them has a counselor. We offer activities and workshops throughout the year. We’re starting mentoring programs using faculty, administrators, and peers. And when they graduate, we’ll still be here for them.”
Why so much support? “We want to change their futures,” Marshall says. “They benefit from leadership studies, internships, and mentoring early in their college careers.”
The Young Scholars aren’t the only ones who benefit, Marshall notes, because they tend to bring a trailblazing mentality that inspires their classmates. “They understand leadership and want to be leaders,” he says. “They’re looking at the big picture.”
In addition to leadership, the Scholars bring a new perspective. “Most of us are African American or Latino,” says Greenidge, “so our presence gives this predominantly white campus more openness to our cultures.” Marshall agrees: “The Scholars have been intentional in getting to know people outside their comfort zone and telling their stories, and Naz students have been so receptive to hearing them.” Greenidge says of the students’ interaction, “It brings people together.”
Building connections, both on and off campus, is the most important aspect of the program, according to Dwyer. “You learn to network, and networking can get you far in life,” he says. “It’s opened up doors for me.”
One of those doors offered Dwyer access to a competitive fellowship sponsored by JP Morgan Chase; the firm intends to hire him after he graduates. Excited about attending career-oriented training sessions in Dallas and Chicago, Dwyer says he’s also eager to build upon the personal growth he’s made as a Young Scholar at Nazareth.
“Being here has been a great adjustment that has improved me as a person,” he says. “I can’t wait to see who I am in the future!”
Joanie Eppinga is a freelance writer and editor in Spokane, Washington.