Eighth Chesick Cohort’s First Taste of Haverford
At the end of June, the eighth cohort of John P. Chesick Scholars began the summer portion of the program. They were welcomed to campus for the session by an enthusiastic group of students, administrators, faculty, and alumni, and the following five weeks delivered them many exciting and eye-opening academic, social, and cultural experiences.
As June turned into July, the 2019 cohort of John P. Chesick Scholars arrived on campus. Haverford’s Chesick Scholars Program, now in its eighth year, is designed to support and spotlight a group of high-achieving students who come from backgrounds that are typically under-represented or marginalized in academia. The leadership and mentoring program spans all four years of college and begins with a five-week summer session ahead of the students’ first year.
The newest group of Chesick Scholars includes 15 students with interests across the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences. The summer program offers these students the opportunity to take two five-week courses—one writing-focused class and one science class—as a way of previewing what life will be like as a Haverford student. The scholars are also involved in a series of social and cultural events as well, which connects them with various campus community members and helps them get to know one another.
This summer portion of the program kicked off with one of these social events: a casual and celebratory introduction in VCAM where the incoming cohort of Chesick Scholars met students, alumni, professors, and administrators. The excitement was palpable, and each scholar’s introduction was met by giggles from their peers.
“I got to meet everybody else who’s in the program—people from all different parts of the country, all different backgrounds and cultures,” said Chesick Scholar Rasaaq Shittu ’23 during the event. “It was really nice to meet everybody and I’m pretty excited for the program. I know it’s gonna be hard work, but I’m excited for it.”
“I’m also excited for the mentors we’re going to get later on,” added fellow scholar Diego Capcha ’23. “In about three weeks they’re going to match each of us up with a mentor who’s going to help us throughout all four years of college, and there are also opportunities for fellowships and internships, so I’m really looking forward to all of that.”
In the ensuing weeks, the students experienced a microcosm of Haverford life. They lived in Leeds Hall, ate meals in the Dining Center, spent evenings studying and socializing, familiarized themselves with the campus and surrounding area, and met with faculty members and administrators. The program helps the scholars understand what student life is like at Haverford and how to develop the social, academic, and lifestyle habits necessary for happiness and success.
All of these activities have been facilitated by the program directors, Visiting Lecturer of Writing and Multilingual Developmental Writing Specialist Barbara Hall and Senior Lecturer of Mathematics and Statistics Jeffrey Tecosky-Feldman. During the introductory event, Tecosky-Feldman took a moment to remark upon what makes working with the Chesick Scholars such a meaningful and rewarding experience.
“Every year is special because the students come in with such a high level of interest,” he said. “They’ve given away their summer vacations for serious academic study, so it’s very exciting to learn what makes them tick academically as well as socially.”
As the summer closes and the Chesick Scholars prepare for Customs Week and the fall semester, Tecosky-Feldman continues to be enthusiastic about working with the students over the next four years.
“I’m as excited about this cohort as I have ever been about any of the previous seven cohorts,” he said. “You learn a lot from the students.”