NU freshman Kahlia Portuguese, a Niagara Falls High School graduate and Lois Lyons Brennan Scholarship recipient, talks with Early College/Smart Scholar students.

Students from Niagara Falls High School who participate in Niagara University’s Early College/Smart Scholars Program visited the NU campus in February and March to get a glimpse of college life.

Hosted by the Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement, the Early College program paves the way for academic and career success for these students by welcoming them to the campus each semester, where they engage in a variety of college and career readiness activities. These activities are carefully designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in higher education and beyond.

One of the highlights of each visit is the invaluable face-to-face interaction between the high school students and those enrolled at Niagara University. This interaction offers a unique opportunity for NFHS students to gain firsthand insight into college preparation, coursework expectations, campus life, and career planning. Through candid conversations and shared experiences, these students are inspired and empowered to pursue their academic and professional aspirations with confidence.

"The Early College/Smart Scholars Program bridges the gap between high school and college transition, providing students with a tangible pathway to their future success,” said Rhonda Bivins-Talley, executive director of the Levesque Institute. “By fostering collaboration between Niagara Falls High School and Niagara University, we are not only preparing first-generation students for higher education, but also nurturing personal and professional growth."

Bivins-Talley added that the impact of the Early College/Smart Scholars Program extends far beyond the confines of the classroom; it serves as a catalyst for transformation, opening doors to endless possibilities and empowering students to envision and pursue meaningful careers.