Summer Honors Institute welcomes future penguins

Summer Honors Institute

Over 80 students participated in this year’s Youngstown State University Summer Honors Institute. Photo courtesy of Amy Cossentino.

Last week, the Youngstown State University Scholars held their annual Summer Honors Institute for gifted and talented high school juniors and seniors.

For the past 25 years, the scholars and YSU have invited honors students to participate in the program, showing the hopeful penguins what is so unique about the honors program at YSU. Amy Cossentino, director of the Summer Honors Institute, said the program is a great chance for students to explore what YSU has to offer.

“The program gives these kids a chance to learn things that they normally wouldn’t at their local high school,” Cossentino said. “We hope YSU becomes one of their top choices by the end of the week.”

During the week, students attended two classes each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Classes ranged from potato cannon making promoting engineering to a Harry Potter themed class that explored the wizard world and provided an in depth look into the works of J.K. Rowling.

Sharyn Fees, assistant director of Summer Honors Institute, said the classes are a unique opportunity for the students. “They wouldn’t normally learn the things they are learning here in a typical high school classroom,” Fees said. “It’s also great to give the kids a feel to what a college classroom is like.”

New to this year’s program was the option to stay in Cafaro House and experience residential life. The students participating explored Youngstown’s “gems” by eating at MVR, exploring the Oh! Wow museum and playing volleyball every night.

Cossentino said that the new option was a huge success.

“Seven kids participated, and it was a very personalized experience for them,” Cossentino said. “It was great to take them to dinner and the museums of the city so we can show they why people love Youngstown.”

Nick LaCerva, a senior from Cleveland, was one of the seven students who participated in the residential living of the Summer Honors Institute.

“I’ve gotten more accustom to staying here [on campus],” LaCerva said. “Monday I had a little anxiety and felt a little homesick, but as the week went on I realized that going away isn’t so bad after all.”

LaCerva also said he is starting to consider applying to become a scholar because of how he enjoyed his time in the Summer Honors Institute.

At the end of the week, a survey was distributed to the students centered on their week’s experience, as well as their interest in becoming a University Scholar at YSU.

Out of the 80 students who participated in the Summer Honors Institute this year, 75 percent said they were strongly considering enrolling at YSU and becoming a University Scholar.

Claudia Gage, a sophomore scholar, participated in the Summer Honors Institute before she made the decision to become a University Scholar.

“Being from the area, YSU has not always the most positive representation and honors students sometimes feel like they need to go away to school,” Gage said. “But after meeting the scholars, they showed me that YSU is a great place for honors students.”