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Cheyney University Scholars Take Part in PASSHE Honors Conference in Harrisburg

April 8, 2014

Pictured Back left to right: Terrell Grayson, Leonard Brown, Jericho Henry, Winston Wright, Devin Randall, KHA DeanTara Kent, PASSHE Executive Vice Chancellor Peter Garland 
Front left to right: Angelitta Anderson, Jasmine Richardson, Aleah Hollis, Julianne Lewis

Pictured Back left to right: Terrell Grayson, Leonard Brown, Jericho Henry, Winston Wright, Devin Randall, KHA DeanTara Kent, PASSHE Executive Vice Chancellor Peter Garland Front left to right: Angelitta Anderson, Jasmine Richardson, Aleah Hollis, Julianne Lewis

Three Cheyney University (CU) honors scholars served as panelists and another served as a moderator at the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Honors Conference April 7 in Harrisburg, PA. The day-long event gave students the opportunity to interact with other scholars from across the 14-state school system. 

The morning and afternoon sessions involved a facilitator and two panelists for each of the nine topics pertaining to honors education, pedagogy, or programming. The goal of each session was to pique curiosity, challenge and expand students’ understanding of the topic, spark meaningful questions, and build confidence and enthusiasm to empower the students.

Junior Terrell Grayson was a panelist for the Valuing Honors discussion while Jasmine Richardson was a panelist for the retention discussion.  They both got the opportunity to tout Cheyney's Keystone Honors Academy (KHA). “At the Keystone Honors Academy, we live, study, and play together,” Grayson said. “The Honors program provides rich and unique opportunities to help cultivate leadership among students, develop and expand social and cultural awareness, facilitate peer mentorship, and nurture community engagement.”

"KHA has an 82% persistence rate and graduates students at a rate that is twice that of the national average for African Americans,” Richardson enthusiastically shared. “The graduation rate for the Keystone Honors Academy is 72%.”  

KHA Freshman Scholar Leonard Brown returned from his first PASSHE conference invigorated. "It was an enlightening experience," he remarked. "Throughout the day, we as students, passionately shared about our beloved universities in discussions. Students discussed their experiences and offered insight to fellow scholars that fostered ideas that could be taken back to their respective campuses. These included innovative approaches towards sustainability, student-based initiatives to increase engagement and retention, and several ways to cultivate the first year experience, to name a few. All of which, led me to walk away from the conference embodying the urge for initiative, purpose of humility, and significance of community. I look forward to returning next year."

First-time conference-goer Aleah Hollis learned a lot, too.  "The most important thing," she said, "was to have equal appetite, devotion and ambition to continue expanding and strengthening the honors programs at each of the schools." 

In addition, Senior Psychology Major Julianne Lewis moderated a Fundraising discussion which focused on decreased state funding of public universities and institutions of higher education. Many of those institutions have moved to implement strategies mirroring private institutions to raise funds. The panelists discussed fundraising strategies, the key players in these efforts, and how this trend impacts educational programming.

The final participating KHA student, Senior Angelitta Anderson, currently an intern in the CU Public Relations Department, served as a panelist for the Public Relations/Mass Media discussion. She told how KHA uses traditional media outlets such as television and radio to market its program, as well as non-traditional outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She also shared how KHA engages in marketing research that has targeted specific universities/colleges, academic programs, national organizations, and local community organizations.  She also garnered much from the community service discussion.

"I now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what an honor and a privilege it is to be in the Keystone Honors Academy," Anderson gushed. "The one thing that struck me was former president of Millersville University, Dr. Francine McNairy's recollection of Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and President of the Children's Defense Fund and the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi State Bar who once said, "Service is the rent we pay for living." So, many people have it so much worse than I do. KHA gave me skills and resources the majority of people will never have access to. Therefore, I have a duty to give back!"

Richardson, also deeply touched by what Keynote speaker McNairy had to say, agreed. "To me, it's all about paying it forward, which is a movement in which one does random kind acts for a friend or a stranger without expecting anything back in return. You never know what putting a smile on someone can do for that person. Also, I gained a lot of knowledge about new programs and activities that could be beneficial for the Cheyney University campus."

Other panel topics included collaborative research, leadership and ambassadorship, and assessment.

“The PASSHE Honors Conference is an excellent opportunity for our students to participate in a professional conference, and engage in dialog about honors education, pedagogy, and service," declared KHA Dean Tara Kent. "I’m particularly proud of our students who attended. They contributed a great deal to the conference, offered insight, and were widely recognized amongst the participants as embodiments of honors education in the PASSHE system.”