In a 12-day program designed to challenge and develop the academic and leadership skills of more than 40 accomplished high school students, the Summer Honors program at the University of North Georgia gave rising seniors a glimpse into the life of a college student.
"The activities have been great; you learn to push yourself, and I've learned so much from being in situations where your team is counting on you," said Sarah Gossett, a rising senior from Coahulla Creek High School in Dalton, Ga.
Bea Marchette, a counselor for this year's program and a UNG graduate, worked with the program during her junior and senior years at the university. She said that the experience has greatly contributed to her knowledge and skills as a math teacher at Chestatee High School in Gainesville, Ga.
"We work with students as they are out of their comfort zones, and helping them overcome these many challenges has helped me learn to apply that in the classroom," Marchette said. "We see so much social growth in these students during Summer Honors."
A collection of students, faculty and staff from UNG guided the attendees during their stay and helped them acclimate to the lifestyle of a UNG student while instructing them in various academic disciplines and leadership exercises. The program is designed to give the students broad exposure to what college has to offer.
"This program is a developmental process," Dr. Robb Sinn, program director, said during the cohort's trip out to Pine Valley, UNG's outdoor recreation complex. "Today is especially important, because many of these students are fearful climbers."
Pine Valley contains many obstacles, a ropes course, and a zip-line. The UNG counselors and staff supervised students as they assisted each other in succeeding in each area.
"They learn to trust the staff and each other as they set goals and challenges themselves," Sinn said. "Also, they are able to familiarize themselves with some of the equipment that is used during the hike to Mount Yonah."
Earlier in the program students attended an etiquette dinner facilitated by Dr. Elizabeth Combier, head of UNG's Department of Spanish.
"Our focus here is global sensitivity, so we address the behaviors, societies, and cultures students may encounter during their lives," Combier said. "We want them to be sensitized in how to identify expectations so they can become culturally competent global citizens."
Summer Honors finished with an awards banquet that recognized students' performances during the program with awards such as Most Outstanding Student and Best Team Player.
Activities and events during the program included essay contests, quiz bowls, leadership discussion round tables, time at the observatory and planetarium, an etiquette dinner, a trip to Pine Valley to experience team-building exercises on the ropes course, and social activities. Students were also exposed to the many majors and subjects the university has to offer with college-level instruction from UNG professors.
The externally-funded program is supported by the school systems in Dalton and Cherokee, Whitfield, Fannin, and Murray counties to encourage students to continue their education beyond high school. Combined, these school districts provided 44 scholarships for Summer Honors 2013.
With about 15,000 students, UNG is the state’s seventh-largest public university. UNG has four campuses—in Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee County and offers more than 100 programs of study, including certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and professional doctoral programs. UNG is designated as a state leadership institution in the University System of Georgia. Additionally, because it is one of only six senior military colleges in the United States and has a Corps of Cadets of more than 750 students, it is designated as the Military College of Georgia.