Gannon University became home to high school seniors for a two-day event Sunday and Monday.
High school seniors accepted to Gannon had the opportunity to live and breathe campus life during Knight with Scholars. This event created a different experience for accepted students —overnight. It provided prospective seniors with the chance to interact with current students and meet professors during simulated classes.
In past events, students were just placed in a class, but this year’s Knight with Scholars included an experience with professors in which students were taught college content in an engaging experience.
The annual event has been occurring for over a decade. However, a lot of changes were made to this year’s event to better align it with orientation and other recruitment events to maintain consistency.
The event is typically capped at 120-125 students, and this year, it was at full capacity.
Two of the organizers, Emily Ernes, an enrollment adviser, and Pat Washington, a senior enrollment adviser, said that students are usually really receptive to the event.
Ernes and Washington are in charge of diversity recruitment and discussed their event.
Sunday night featured opportunities for students to attend breakout events such as trivia night, open rec games, crafts and a story slam session. The story slam event was hosted in the Center for Communication and the Arts and focused on sharing our stories and celebrating our different backgrounds.
The event had a multimedia focus with multiple rooms for students to engage in. In one room, students were encouraged to color and put together sheets that said “I am…and that’s awesome because…”
Another room featured a photo booth with multiple props to take celebratory photos. In the green room, videos were recorded for reading what students wrote on their sheets. Alternative Break Service Trip (ABST) leaders and Gannon’s Black Student Union were there to help lead the event with the goal of facilitating interesting conversations about background and diversity.
In addition to the story slam event, diversity was celebrated at the luncheon Monday afternoon with the awarding of the Diversity and Service Leadership Award. This award is for prospective students who have demonstrated service and leadership in their high school experiences and are from underrepresented backgrounds. Students were asked to submit an essay to demonstrate their service and leadership.
Students who met the highest level of service and leadership received a renewable tuition award of $3,000 per year.
The luncheon also featured a student panel with some campus leaders to encourage future campus involvement.
In terms of the overall goal and takeaway from this event, Ernes said the event allowed students to meet each other.
“Connection is a big one,” Ernes said. “Just forming new connections between current and prospective students. A platform for self-reflection.”
Ernes and Washington expressed that this event inspires a sense of excitement for students wanting to be a part of this campus. They said they want students to get excited about the recruitment process.
They also advocated that the most impactful experiences come from students’ peers.
“Generally, students are inclined to listen to people they can relate to,” Washington said. “Students are going to remember how you make them feel.”
Peer involvement was facilitated through Gannon student hosts. Current students engaged in all parts of the event to participate and help transition students between activities.
Amy Benkovich, a freshman journalism communication and English/secondary education major, acted as one of the student hosts. Prior to the event, she participated in a training process for students to find out their roles throughout the event and also learn the agenda.
“The experience is very beneficial, and for a lot of students this event is the deciding factor on coming to Gannon,” Benkovich said. “I am grateful to help them in that decision and make them feel part of the Gannon family.”