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Many of the state’s brightest high school students recently got a glimpse of what college might be like during Scholar Recognition Day at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
UNK works with guidance counselors to invite juniors and seniors in the top 10 percent of their classes to the event. About 115 students and about 200 parents attended this year.
“It’s an opportunity for students to visit campus and be recognized for their accomplishments. It’s also an opportunity for us to talk about the Honors Program,” said Dr. Gary Davis, director of the UNK Honors Program.
“The high school counselors are very much involved,” he said. Sometimes the counselors alert UNK to students who might not be in the top 10 percent academically, but that they think the school should take a look at.
“Letters of recommendation are huge to us. If a counselor gives a stellar recommendation, sure, we’ll invite them,” Dr. Davis said.
One of the first activities for the scholars was a panel discussion with several students from the UNK Honors Program. Jane Christensen, associate director of the program, asked questions of the panel to help the students and parents become acquainted with UNK and the Honors Program. Then, the high schoolers asked their own questions about a variety of topics, from sports, to fraternities and sororities to honors classes. After the honors program panel discussion, Dr. Davis, Admissions Director Dusty Newton and Financial Aid Director Mary Sommers answered questions, primarily from parents.
The high school scholars were then divided into four groups, based on the college in which they think they might enroll. They met with deans and department chairs, and saw where their classes might be.
The students and their parents then attended a luncheon hosted by the Omaha World-Herald and the Kearney Hub. The three winners of the World-Herald/Kearney Hub scholarships from the previous year, Allison Henri of Bellevue, Nate Summerfield of Wayne and Eliot Wondercheck of Orchard, spoke at the luncheon.
“They were fantastic,” Dr. Davis said. “I’m always proud of our Honors students. These three students were fabulous speakers, and they presented a valuable message to each of the high school scholars and their parents.”
The entire event serves as a recruiting tool for UNK, and more specifically the Honors Program, because it brings talented high school students and their parents to campus, he said. Participants are also encouraged to schedule another tour with the Admissions Office to get a broader picture of campus.
“It gives these students the opportunity to experience campus and interact with faculty, current students and other future Lopers,” Assistant Director of Recruitment Mike Pelster said of the event. Some students do stay after the luncheon to take tours, but many are involved in after-school activities and need to get back to their schools.
Dr. Davis, who is in his fifth year as director of UNK’s Honors Program said that he looks forward to the event each fall.
“It’s a great day when you can have so many of the top high school scholars and their parents on campus, talk with them, and show them why UNK is one of the top universities in the Midwest,” he said.