Not many students get the opportunity to “try out” a college, but that is exactly what the 20 students who attended Rochester College’s first Junior Scholars program did. The week was sponsored by the Honors Program at Rochester College and allowed students to earn two to three hours of college credit while experiencing social and academic life at Rochester College. Students stayed in the residence halls, attended classes taught by five different RC professors, and enjoyed local cultural sites.

The theme foJunior Scholars 2011r the week was “Enlighten” and centered on the relationship between faith and reason. “We chose this theme because it really speaks to the mission of Rochester College,” said Dr. Anne Nichols, who directs both Junior Scholars and the Honors Program. “While many people see faith and reason as antagonistic, RC exists because we believe the two are inseparable and we want to help students develop both.”

Because the Enlightenment movement of the 1700s was a formative time for current ideas about faith and reason, many Junior Scholars class sessions focused on that era. As each professor presented the theme from their discipline, scholars learned philosophy, history, literature and science. Presenters included Dr. Rubel Shelly, RC’s president; Dr. John Barton, RC’s provost; Dr. David Greer, associate professor of history; Dr. Anne Nichols, associate professor of English; and Dr. David Brackney, chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics.

Some aspects of the Enlightenment were celebrated, while others were critiqued. The critique of Enlightenment thought culminated in a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Center, where the scholars were addressed by Holocaust survivor and author Sam Offen.  Discussions of Enlightenment poetry and art led to a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts, while Brackney’s discussion of science and faith led to a visit to his home in the country, where scholars played volleyball, enjoyed a campfire, and received a tour of the universe, compliments of Brackney and a high-powered telescope.

“I received so much positive feedback from our scholars,” said Nichols, “but my favorite comment was from a scholar who said his favorite part of the week was having enjoyable intellectual discussions with his peers outside of class. I know Junior Scholars accomplished our goals because students went home associating Rochester College with intellectual and social stimulation. My hope is that they will return to RC for college, join the Honors Program, and build on these experiences.”

Junior Scholars 2012 is open to all current high school students, including 2012 graduates, who would like to dedicate a week of their summer to intellectual fun. The program will run from July 22-28 and the theme will be “Pop!” The program will look at how technology and mass media have made popular culture a pervasive influence. Join us as we examine how popular culture informs our lives.

More information about Junior Scholars can be found at www.rc.edu/jrscholars