WEST LIBERTY - Students of the inaugural class of the Advanced Academy of West Virginia and the Honors College of West Liberty University spoke about their experiences in the programs' first month during a presentation to members of the college and the community Wednesday at WLU's main campus.
The Honors College includes honors students and students of the Advanced Academy, a program designed to provide highly motivated and academically advanced high school students the opportunity to take college classes that simultaneously fulfill both college and high school graduation requirements.
Devyn Nickerson, a junior at Wheeling Park High School who is also enrolled as a freshman at WLU, told the audience she would be worrying about prom instead of college at this point in her life if she hadn't heard of the Advanced Academy.
"I desperately needed a challenge. I felt that I could be pushed more than I was in high school," Nickerson said. "Also, I was in love with the idea that this would jumpstart my college education. I thought that this program had the potential to be the perfect fit for me, as it turned out to be."
Nickerson, who still participates in extracurricular activities at WPHS, said her experiences have been "remarkable" and that she has learned a multitude of "college skills" that she couldn't have learned in high school.
"In college, the saying 'learning to run before you can walk' is quite accurate sometimes. It's pretty much learning on the job," Nickerson said. "The program also gives me the freedom to make my own choices. I am able to be responsible and do my schoolwork on my own time instead of teachers telling me to do it. Also, my classes are more interesting now. The classes I'm taking now challenge me to learn more and try harder and ask more questions."
Levi Smith, a WLU sophomore from Ravenswood, W.Va., also spoke of his experiences during the first month of the Honors College.
"I've made so many memories and experiences since joining this amazing program that I feel profoundly blessed to have been a part of it," Smith said. "That's how I see the Honors College, as an opportunity to have more than the normal college experience."
WLU President Robin C. Capehart addressed the audience during the presentation, saying "these two programs are two examples of achieving the high standards" the university sets for itself and its students.
"We've become the first regional university to have an honors college. It is an opportunity for high-achieving students to get together and take classes which are highly challenging classes. These are students who want to be challenged more and more, and this gives them that opportunity," Capehart said. "I think as people become more familiar with the Advanced Academy, I think you're going to see more and more students step up. A lot of students are interested, but they just weren't sure. Our best advertisement for the Advanced Academy is going to be the students coming through."