Honors College scholarship even more prestigious
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
The credentials of students applying for the Honors College Academic Excellence Scholarship have become so impressive, it has an updated name.
It’s now the Academic Excellence & Servant Leadership Scholarship, but one thing remains the same: It still is changing the lives of Honors College students entering Grand Canyon University.
Students must meet a minimum academic mark to be eligible, and from there it is all about their story, life experience and passion to serve their local and global communities. The 75 new honorees, chosen from 1,100 Honors College students, normally would have been celebrated in a networking event at GCU Golf Course, but that wasn’t possible because of the pandemic.
Instead, the annual celebration before the start of the academic year took place online.
“We didn’t want to simply cancel the event given the circumstances. We wanted these students to have an opportunity to engage with one another and have a moment to reflect on how special this scholarship opportunity really is,” Associate Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli said. “We anxiously anticipate getting together each fall to host this event for them.”
Scholars from around the world congregated on Zoom to be honored by the Honors College staff and their peers. Each incoming student, ranging from business owners to world travelers who are fluent in several different languages, was given a slide noting achievements both in and out of the classroom. The average incoming GPA for this year’s recipients is just shy of a 4.4.
A recurring theme seemed to be humanitarians with multicultural backgrounds.
“Even those who are from this country, they’ve gone on mission trips and vision trips. They were involved in helping different under-served populations and their local communities,” Program Manager Anna Cofrancesco said. “They’re very whole-hearted people who are passionate about service and just being global thinkers.”
Cofrancesco and fellow Program Manager Cathleen Daly read through hundreds of scholarship applications and scheduled interviews with finalists. It was Daly’s first year on the project, which made listening to the achievements and stories that much more meaningful.
“I was blown away by the diversity of their stories,” she said. “Obviously, 2020 has been really unique, and I think that this group is so well equipped to take on the challenges that this year has presented and be leaders through all of it.
“It’s not something we planned because the scholarship process was almost over before everything hit. Looking back on it, I’m like, ‘What a strong group to help lead the pack with everything that’s happening this year.’”
One of those students is Prince Sozi, a biomedical engineering student from Uganda. He moved to the United States in high school and then found out about GCU’s Honors College.
Sozi said the scholarship is “very exciting,” and he is particularly excited to be part of a group of fellow scholars that shares his love and passion for academics.
Even though the reception was online, he said he already has started building connections in the Honors community.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].