The Middle Tennessee State University Scholars Academy for freshmen has a twofold plan for their individual success.
Part of the aim for what became the largest Scholars Academy freshman summer institute — 357 students this year compared to 312 in 2016 — includes “positioning them to not only be successful for now, but for next year and the next seasons of their life,” said Vincent Windrow, assistant vice provost for student success.
The Scholars Academy, a part of MTSU’s Office of Student Success, was created to serve all students, emphasizing the needs of first-generation and Pell Grant-eligible students, and assisting with the academic, social and long-term impact of higher education.
To learn more about the Scholars Academy, visit www.mtsu.edu/studentsuccess/scholars-academy.php.
During their two weeks before fall classes started Aug. 26, the students in the 2017 Scholars Academy attended University 1010 classes, study skills workshops, team-building exercises and leadership training and participated in service-learning projects and the summer reading program, which this year featured “Hillbilly Elegy” by author J.D. Vance. They’re led by a dozen faculty members.
“The one consistent variable is that they are all first-year students, first time in college, first time being 18, first time away from home, first time living in a dorm and first time parents were not supervising their actions,” Windrow said.
One of the highlights was a one-day trip to Louisville, Kentucky, to visit the Muhammad Ali Museum. Windrow said the visit is “transformational” for the teenagers.
“One of the reasons we go to Louisville is it aligns with our aims and our values,” he said. “The Muhammad Ali who died two years ago was not the Muhammad Ali when he was a younger man as Cassius Clay and ‘The Louisville Lip.’ He evolved.”
“Life is about being fluid, not static,” Windrow added. “Higher education is about higher learning and higher doing, and, ultimately, that’s what Scholars Academy is about. We want to provide these students with an environment that allows them to learn and position them to have more positive interactions in MTSU’s diverse community.”
Typically, these students will be “more engaged, more will be retained and more will graduate,” he said. “Student success starts in the classroom. The instruction they receive will help them in the fall.”
Jackson Orlowski, 18, of Knoxville, Tennessee, said the 14-day institute “helped as far as getting used to the campus, meeting people early and setting up in your dorm. There was team bonding where you get to know the group really well.”
Orlowski, a Knox Catholic High School graduate, plans to major in advertising in the College of Media and Entertainment.
Tommy Curry, 18, of Memphis, Tennessee, and a Christian Brothers High School grad, said he liked how Scholars Academy students receive three extra credit hours for participating in the program.
“It helps us prepare how to study,” the journalism major said, adding that they also took part in a scavenger hunt and attended an MTSU women’s soccer game.
In addition to agreeing to participate in all institute events for the Aug. 11-24 program, the only participation requirements were a $45 fee and two canned goods — one for the MTSU Student Food Pantry and one for the Rutherford County Food Bank.
“Giving to the food pantry teaches them to give because they are part of the student population and giving to a larger cause when they give to the food bank,” Windrow said.
For more information about MTSU’s Scholars Academy, call 615-494-8650.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)