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Student Flourishes in Honors & Earns U of A Fellowship
Moving from England to Arkansas would be a challenge for any 16-year-old, but NWACC student Reece Hodgson took it in stride. His father had moved his family to the states to advance his career at the Walmart corporate office, and Reece had already graduated high school back in England. He thought attending a local community college would be the first step in his higher education.
“I had the English equivalent of a high school diploma. In England, we get them when we’re 16, but then we have an intermediate step between 16 and 18 before we go to university. To come to university in America, you don't actually need that step,” he explained.
If jumping into college wasn’t challenging enough for the teenager, Reece sought out applying for the honors program as soon as he stepped foot onto the Bentonville campus.
“I knew about the honors program before I even attended NWACC because one of our family friends was an honors professor,” Reece explained. “My first day walking on campus, the first thing I did was ask the lady at reception where I could find Sabrina Chesney, and then I went to her office and asked for an application, and within 15 minutes, I was in the honors program.”
Participating in the honors program has allowed Reece to meet other students and get involved on campus and in the surrounding community.
“Because of how tightknit the honors program is, you find so many great opportunities for more introverted students to get involved and speak to their peers and network. I know for me personally, it was a great way to integrate within the new surroundings that I was facing. It was really an incredible way to just throw myself in head first and make sure I got involved with the college community,” he said.
As an honors program member, Reece is required to take a number of honors classes throughout his time at NWACC. But, the honors courses aren’t only for program members. They are open to all students with a 3.5 GPA or who are interested in exceling in a certain subject. Classes can range from astronomy, biology, chemistry and history to communications, English and music. Many classes also include service learning projects.
During his first semester, Reece took honors English composition and world civilization, and continued to sign up for more.
“After realizing just how good those classes were, I continued to enroll in them in the following semesters,” he said. “I find all of the honors classes offer a very interesting take on a normal classroom environment. Every single one of them has provided the opportunity to work more with peers rather than just taking notes and then testing.”
Outside the classroom, Reece has experienced a number of perks as a student in the honors program. He was able to qualify for the honors scholarship to assist with his school expenses, take advantage of priority class registration, access the honors study area where he could work on his homework in a quite setting and with other honors students, and he will have his honors achievements shown on his transcripts and future resume.
“The honors program offers so many opportunities when you put it down on your applications. I genuinely believe that it was a major factor in me getting the fellowship that I received, because it shows just how engaged you are as a student,” Reece said.
The fellowship that Reece recently received was the Honors College Fellowship – one of the biggest merit-based scholarships from the University of Arkansas (U of A). Only 80 are awarded every school year. It provides students with $18,000 each year for four years to assist with tuition, room and board, and other educational expenses. Applying for the prestigious award was a demanding endeavor.
“I had to write a short essay about an important invention or idea. I had to write about different activities I’ve done, academic awards I’ve received, and literary works... The people who were given finalist spots had to go down to the Chancellor Hotel in Fayetteville, where we stayed overnight, and had interviews the next morning. So, it was a very drawn-out process,” Reece explained.
Although the application process wasn’t easy, a sense of relief and gratitude consumed Reece when he learned he had been awarded the fellowship.
“I got an email saying, ‘An update has been posted about your academic scholarship application’, and I clicked on it, and it was a PDF with confetti coming down the page. It said, ‘Congratulations! You've been awarded an Honors College Fellowship!’” he said. “I had a plan to kind of keep it a secret for a while, and then casually mention it while my family and I were eating dinner, but I read it, and I just broke down in tears and went ‘I got a Fellowship!’”
Reece recently graduated from NWACC with his general requirements completed, and with his fellowship in hand, he’ll be transferring to the U of A to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance and possibly supply chain management. He also plans to follow in his father’s footsteps by working in finance at Walmart and then earning an MBA.
“Receiving the fellowship makes it so much more financially viable to attend college, but
then, because it's such a prestigious award, it’s such a great thing to be able to
write on your future resumes. I know from conversations I've had with employers at
the career fairs and stuff here at NWACC, that’s something that they value very highly,”
he explained. “I think it could help me with getting a good post graduate job, and
then getting into competitive schools for my MBA,” he said.
Interested in exceling in NWACC’s honors classes and seeing what future opportunities may arise?
Visit nwacc.edu or call 479-986-4000 to learn more about choosing a higher education with NWACC.