Berry to host 2017 Governor’s Honors Program

by Avery Boulware, Campus Carrier News Editor

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This summer, 650 of Georgia’s most gifted high school students will spend four weeks on Berry’s campus as a part of the 2017 Governor’s Honors Program. Berry was recently named the new site for this summer’s GHP, which was previously hosted by Valdosta State University for 32 years. 

“We are so excited,” Dean of Students Debbie Heida said. “If we can get students here, then they think about Berry as a potential for college. We are excited because these are the best and brightest students in the state who will spend a month on our campus.” 

The students who will be coming to Berry this summer as a part of GHP are rising juniors and seniors that have been nominated by a teacher or counselor for a particular field of study. They will go through an interviewing process that often includes essay writing.  

While at Berry, students in GHP will have a ‘‘major’’ and ‘‘minor’’ to study, Heida explained. The major is the same field that they were nominated for by their teacher, but the students themselves will get to choose a minor to focus on as well.  

“[GHP] has great, diverse programs,” Heida said. “They try and give a really intensive, high-quality academic experience that’s also interdisciplinary.” 

Senior Alondra Guzman is a GHP alum who is now a nursing major at Berry. During her summer at Valdosta, she studied communicative arts, which included English and literature studies. Guzman enjoyed the community aspect of the program and how valuable her time was.  

“It was really neat that [the professors] take time to teach students what they are passionate about,” Guzman said. 

Guzman also highlighted the opportunity that the program gives to every student, no matter their household income.  

“A lot of students interview but only a few make it because you go completely for free,” Guzman said. “That’s the wonderful part about it.” 

Junior Ethan Hart is another GHP alum now studying at Berry. Though he is now majoring in biochemistry, he studied theatre performance during his summer at Valdosta and has been involved in Berry theatre productions.

“The most fun I ever had in high school was going to GHP,” Hart said. “ I met a lot of really cool friends. We still hang out a lot.” 

Hart said some of his fellow GHP alumni have gone on to become professional performers in film and on stage, some even doing off-Broadway work. 

The theatre “major” for GHP involves less time in the classroom and more time on stage performing and learning techniques. The professors also teach students the logistics of auditions, including portfolios and headshots. 

“It was as practical as it was enriching,” Hart said. 

Hart has kept up with his GHP class on Facebook, and has taken note of the reaction to Berry being named as the new site for 2017. 

“Everyone that has ever been to Berry is thrilled,” Hart said. “And I agree, even though I might be a little biased. At the same time a lot of people, especially people not associated with Berry, are very sad that it’s moving away from Valdosta.”

Guzman shared mixed feelings about the site change. Valdosta has been home to GHP for 32 years, but she thinks Berry will be a good fit. 

“I think Berry is a really special place,” Guzman said. “It’s so massive and there’s so much to do here. It creates the perfect environment to build community.”

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