Early College/Smart Scholars students from Niagara Falls High School learn about the programs and clubs at Niagara University.

Thirty-one ninth and tenth grade students from Niagara Falls High School spent the day on the Niagara University campus Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, as part of the Early College/Smart Scholars Program, a partnership between Niagara’s Rev. Joseph L. Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement and the Niagara Falls City School District to engage high school students in college/career exploration.

The students learned about college and career opportunities based on their interests and values during a Table Talk session in the Gallagher Center, where they met current NU students representing both academics, including the university’s colleges and Academic Exploration Program, as well as extracurricular clubs, including Student-Athletes of Color Alliance, Danceline, and club sports. They also toured the campus and attended a presentation given by Emily Olczak, Niagara’s senior assistant director of admissions and multi-cultural enrollment,

Dr. Elizabeth A. Falzone, literacy outreach/TESOL instructor in the College of Education, serves as the Early College/Smart Scholars Program liaison.  

Funded by the New York State Education Department—Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Early College/Smart Scholars program gives first-generation college students academic opportunities and support services in order to achieve their career goals. Approximately 100 students participate annually in the four-year program, which begins in ninth grade. Cohorts of students visit the Niagara University campus four times each year, learning about academic majors, attending sporting events, finding out about career opportunities, and participating in a civic engagement camp. Beginning in their junior year, participants can obtain between 24-30 tuition-free college credits from Niagara University, the equivalent of one full-time academic year.


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