Saint Joseph’s University welcomed the arrival of five Ignatian College Connection (ICC) scholars at the start of the fall semester. Each scholarship recipient will receive eight semesters of full tuition awarded for academic achievement and faithful participation in the ICC program throughout high school.
This year’s scholars include two graduates of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, Steven Bradley, a communications studies major from Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania, and Alim Kamara, an economics major from Drexel Hill; Tim Hardy, a communications studies major from Philadelphia and graduate of Central High School, Triet Nguyen, an accounting major from Camden, New Jersey, and graduate of Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Malcolm Odum, a food marketing major from Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, and graduate of Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware.
Founded in 2004 by George Bur S.J., former rector of the Jesuit community at SJU, the program aims to expose students from diverse socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and educational backgrounds to higher education and Saint Joseph’s University during their high school years, assist students in preparation for college by providing college awareness and enrichment programs, and offer continued support and mentorship, along with need-based scholarships to a select number of talented and motivated ICC scholars enrolled at SJU. The program is currently run by director of the Office of Inclusion and Diversity Access Programs Jennifer Dessus, M.S. It is supported by faculty from both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Haub School of Business who teach courses in the summer program, as well as other University staff and administrators.
“ICC scholars can be found all over campus,” says Dessus, who became program director in 2007. “We want them as high school students to be excited about being a part of Saint Joseph’s University and as college students, to help advance the mission of the University and to become a part of the community. Our hope is that the successes of the ICC scholars can be replicated to serve other underrepresented populations on campus by helping them make better and more connections here on campus.”
The ICC program is a part of SJU’s Inclusion and Diversity Access Programs. Other access programs include the Lenfest Incentive Scholars Program in which up to eight Gesu School seventh-graders are invited to earn tuition credits toward continuing their education at Saint Joseph’s University. These students are also eligible to receive financial support from the Lenfest Scholarship if enrolled at the University. The Cristo Rey Scholarship offers a limited number of full-tuition scholarships to high-achieving students attending a high school in the Cristo Rey Network.
ICC scholarships are awarded based on an application and an on campus interview. Recipients must demonstrate academic achievement, participation in service and involvement in leadership positions. In addition to maintaining a GPA requirement, awardees are strongly encouraged to become actively involved in the SJU community. They give back to the program by assisting in the programming for high school students. Since the foundation of the program, four to six scholarships have been awarded to ICC students each year. There are currently 19 scholars on campus with a total of 46 graduates.
Students are awarded the scholarship after participating in the ICC program throughout their high school years. The program, which runs events in the spring, summer and fall semesters, offers activities such as SAT prep, college preparation workshops, and accelerated summer courses taught by professors and graduate students. High school freshmen through seniors from schools in the greater Philadelphia area, Southern New Jersey and Delaware are invited to participate.
Current ICC scholar Claribel Villa ’17 says that the ICC program has played an important role in her life on campus.
“The ICC community is like a family to me,” says the sociology and Spanish double major and co-president of the Latino Student Association. “They are always there for me. They often check up on me to make sure I’m doing I’m best. It is support that I value because it helps me to remain successful.”
Former ICC scholar Eric Jackman ’15 also credits the ICC Program.
“ICC is important to me because it has prepared me for my future,” says the former psychology major. “The faculty and staff challenged me to work hard academically and encouraged me to take risks in order to get the best out of myself. ICC provided me the opportunity to follow my dreams and to dare to make an impact in my community.”
The recent graduate is currently enrolled in the Church Management track in the ACESJU program and is working at the Gesu School. He hopes to eventually work as a counselor for male minority students.
“ICC is a true connection, beginning in high school, but extending far beyond for those scholars who persist through graduation and continue to work with the program to extend its diversity and inclusion reach,” says Dessus.