Freshmen Alex Gill and Caroline Strauss, the inaugural recipients of the Francis Xavier Scholarship, and other Honors students will benefit from the program’s recent curricular innovations.

Freshmen Alex Gill and Caroline Strauss, the inaugural recipients of the Francis Xavier Scholarship, and other Honors students will benefit from the program’s recent curricular innovations.

Through Reflection, Honors Program Ensures Rigor and Vitality

New scholarship helps recruit service-minded students

With bold and innovative curricular decisions and new scholarships to attract bright, motivated students, the Saint Joseph’s Honors program is poised to move forward.

Honors freshmen matriculating this fall will be required to take the College Honors curriculum, a two-semester capstone project or thesis during their senior year. Rising sophomore, junior and senior Honors students will also have the opportunity to participate in this uniquely rewarding program.

The newly established Francis Xavier Scholarship, which is awarded to Honors students who participate in annual service projects, raises SJU’s academic profile and entices highly sought-after students to attend Saint Joseph’s University. This year, freshmen Alex Gill and Caroline Strauss became the inaugural recipients of the Francis Xavier Scholarship, established as part of the President’s Magis Scholarship Initiative.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

“After some reflection, we have some dynamic and exciting developments in the Honors program,” said program director Maria Marsilio, Ph.D. “We emphasize reflection in the Honors program, considering its success and what needs improvement to be dynamic and innovative.”

In addition to introducing the College Honors experience, Honors program offerings are being overhauled to include new team-taught and interdisciplinary courses.

“An interdisciplinary approach broadens the potential fields of study and opens the door for a more well-rounded education,” said Gill, a psychology major from New Jersey. “Interdisciplinary learning allows everyone to study a broader variety of topics and find other fields that may be of interest.”

According to Marsilio, the program will likely offer the team-taught courses “Jews and Christians: Theologies Compared,” “Society, Republic, Democracy” and a course with a service-learning component. The new courses will complement the existing team-taught sequences “Modern Mosaic” and “Reason, Revolution and Reaction,” which are being substantially revised and updated.

“Saint Joseph’s has an opportunity to use the unique Jesuit education and Honors program to train future leaders – in industry, government, academia and society – to be men and women for others and use their academic gifts in service to others,” said Marsilio.

Scholarship Attracting Service-Minded Students

Gill and Strauss embraced the service aspect of their Ignatian values-based education before classes even started this past August. They participated in the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program, SJU’s four-day optional early move-in experience of community service, intellectual discovery and urban exploration.

A managing human capital and leadership, ethics and organizational sustainability double major, Strauss volunteered at the Community Center at Visitation in the poverty-stricken Kensington section of Philadelphia. Gill’s service occurred at Providence Center in Philadelphia’s Fairhill/West Kensington section. Both organizations are focused on providing safe spaces for education, community building and recreation.

This March, Gill participated in the University’s Appalachian Experience, performing simple labor for Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity in Pendleton County, W.Va. In April, Strauss participated in the SJU Relay for Life on the McShainiacs team and raised the most money of her teammates by more than $500 because “It’s overwhelming to think that millions of people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. It might be someone close to us – or you or me.”

With a rich, innovative curriculum and students such as Gill and Strauss, the Honors program will continue to ascend.

“We are competing with the finest regional and national Honors programs for the best students,” Marsilio said. “Nothing less than the best!”