New York Times: An Honors College That Honors Grit

In his recent piece in the New York Times, David Kirp, highlights the impact and commitment to students in the Honors Living-Learning Community at Rutgers University – Newark.

Many universities and colleges have national honors programs, most of who snare top-performing high school students in grades and SAT scores. ““Many provosts and presidents see honors colleges as a way to attract students who will raise the school’s average G.P.A. and test scores,” said Naomi Yavneh Klos, a Loyola University New Orleans professor who is president of the honors council. “Equity is too often left out of the conversation.””

Rutgers’ HLLC thinks differently. The campus has been ranked the nation’s most diverse for nearly two decades and strives to embed itself as part of the city, Newark. “The Honors Living-Learning Community is mainly composed of black and Latino students — nearly twice as many as the total of black and Latino undergraduates in the rest of Rutgers-Newark’s programs. Most come from Newark itself and neighboring towns.”

Academic merit is valued in determining selection for the program, as well as the student’s leadership, critical thinking abilities, resiliency, value of education, and passion for social justice or change. ““The process itself highly engages the students even before orientation begins,” John Gunkel, the vice chancellor for academic programs and services, pointed out.”

Adebimbe Elegbeleye, an international student from Nigeria and HLLC Scholar, states, “The nurturing environment allows us to come to our full potential.” Another scholar, Mohamed Abdelghany, remarks, “It’s a humbling experience when a group of people believe in you and your potential when you can’t see it.”

Kirp concludes, “The Honors Living-Learning Community demonstrates that students whom other universities wouldn’t give a second thought to can thrive if they get the kind of attention that their peers at more prestigious places take for granted. Imagine what would happen if this model went nationwide.”

Kirp, David. “An Honors College That Honors Grit.The New York Times. 22 May 2018.