By Scott Bigelow
Freshman Don Woods with Jackie Clark, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management
Don Woods has seen two sides of life as a college freshman.
His first experience as a freshman lasted only one semester, and his second, at age 35, found the Hoke County resident at a March 18 reception honoring outstanding freshmen at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
UNCP honored more than 200 freshmen with grade point averages (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.
"When you're 18, you take things for granted," Woods said. "Once you've seen what life is about, you appreciate what education is about."
The transition from high school to college can be difficult, said Jonathan Maisonpierre, UNCP's Director of Advisement and Retention.
"Living away from home for the first time can be a problem for freshmen," Dr. Maisonpierre said. "Often freshmen find the academic pressure different from their high school experience."
The Class of 2007 is faring well with approximately a quarter of the class achieving a 3.0 GPA (out of 4.0) or higher, he said.
"We have an outstanding freshman class this year, so we thought a small tribute would be a good idea," Dr. Maisonpierre said. "This class has more students earning higher grades than we've had in several years."
The idea to honor freshmen scholars originated with Jackie Clark, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management.
"UNC Pembroke has a long history of success with all types of students," Clark said. "Good students often do extremely well, and high achieving students often do even better in a setting like UNCP."
"The University provides tremendous support for students having academic difficulty," she said. "However, we have many freshmen who begin their college career and do very, very well, and this reception was our way of acknowledging the high value placed on academic excellence."
"Going far beyond the call of duty, doing more than others expect, this is what excellence is all about," Clark said. "We wanted to honor these students for doing just that."
UNCP has a safety net in place for its freshmen and all students, Maisonpierre said. Beginning with orientation, the safety net includes an early alert program, workshops and peer tutoring and advising.
Honored from left: Freshmen Michelle Comp, Jackie Clark, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management, and Aubrey Ardiente.
The freshman scholars received a brass key chain with the inscription, "Celebrating Excellence," at the reception in the James B. Chavis University Center.
Freshman Michelle Comp from Kill Devil Hills, N.C., said she appreciated the recognition.
"When the chancellor of your University says you're doing good, it feels good," Comp said. "It's nice to be recognized by the University."
Chancellor Allen C. Meadors sent invitations to the freshman, congratulating them on an outstanding first semester. Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Roger Brown offered additional congratulations.
"We're proud of you, and you should be proud of yourselves," Dr. Brown said. "You have disciplined yourselves, and the good habits you have formed are the very same habits that will follow you through a successful life."
The freshmen also offered some ideas on surviving the freshman year.
"You have to be the one in charge of your life," said Aubrey Ardiente of Richlands, N.C. "I think the biggest change is not having your parents nagging you.You have to tell yourself to get up and go to class."
Honored from left: Jennifer Henley, Nicole Lord, Shameicha Wads and EbonyHill
Jennifer Henly of Fayetteville, N.C., said "time management and good study habits" are essential.
"You can slide in high school, but there is no place to hide here," Henly said.
Nicole Lord of Fayetteville said the freedom of college life is exhilarating.
"I like being able to pick classes, so you do not have to get up every morning at 7:30," Lord said.
As for success in academics, Lord said there is a learning curve.
"You've got to get into the swing of things," she said. "Once you understand the system, it's easier."
None of the freshmen said the academic side of college life is easy.
"Some of the teachers are pretty challenging," said Salyna Dvorovy of Hollywood, Fla.
However, the rewards can be great, Dvorovy said.
"I like to travel, and, this summer, I am going to Spain with a group from the department of English, theatre and languages," the environmental sciences major said. "I am going to learn Spanish."