Ignatian College Connection Fosters Diversity and Inclusion on Campus


Saint Joseph's University

Ignatian College Connection Fosters Diversity and Inclusion on Campus

 Thursday, October 27, 2016
by Elizabeth Krakoviak ’17
iccSaint 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.

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.

Ignatian College Connection Prepares Students to Live Greater

icc-header-770Eric Jackman ’15 helps students view themselves as part of a larger community as service program coordinator at the Gesu School, where he attended kindergarten through fifth grade.

Ignatian College Connection Prepares Students to Live Greater

Eric Jackman ’15 living in Jesuit tradition

– Kevin Kaufman

Without the influence of his lifelong Jesuit education, Eric Jackman ’15 isn’t sure where he’d be today.

A graduate of Gesu School and Saint Joseph’s Prep, Jackman earned a psychology degree from Saint Joseph’s in May and returned to Gesu as the service program coordinator. Jackman credits the University’s Ignatian College Connection (ICC) with helping him complete Philadelphia’s Jesuit education trifecta.

“The ICC provided a stable support system,” said Jackman, who volunteered at the Bethesda Project’s My Brother’s House men’s shelter and played club rugby. “The ICC program was there for me. Without it, I wouldn’t have made it financially or emotionally.”

Reaching out to Philadelphia’s diverse cultural, educational and socioeconomic students, the ICC emulates the mission of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the first Jesuits who provided educational resources to anyone with a desire to learn. Rev. George Bur, S.J., then-rector of the University’s Jesuit Community, launched the program in 2004. The Jesuit Community at Saint Joseph’s University initially funded the program. Since then, many alumni, friends, corporations and foundations have supported the program.

“Our purpose is two-fold,” said Jennifer Dessus, who was hired as program coordinator in 2007 and succeeded Fr. Bur as program administrator in 2008. “Through pre-college programming, we prepare underrepresented high school students for higher education success, and create a connection between Saint Joseph’s and Philadelphia’s communities. ICC is a support system to prepare students who are already on their way to great things for the rigors of higher education and to help them see themselves as part of the equation.”

Upon being accepted to SJU, ICC high school program participants are encouraged to compete for the ICC Scholarship, which provides eight semesters of tuition. Scholarship awardees are expected to excel in the classroom and encouraged to assume leadership positions within the SJU community. Scholars participate in recruiting, mentoring and programming with high school populations. For some, like Eric, this extends to teaching during summer programming.

Since the ICC’s founding, 41 ICC Scholars have earned SJU degrees. More than four of every five ICC Scholars graduate within four years. The University welcomed four members for this year’s 12th cohort, bringing the ICC Scholars enrolled at SJU this academic year to 20.

“The Jesuit ideals have carried me,” said Jackman, a member of the Jesuit Honor Society Alpha Sigma Nu. “The most prevalent to me is ‘being a man with and for others.’ I gain personal satisfaction from helping others and it makes me feel useful to be a part of a cause bigger than myself.”

Jackman’s return to Gesu as a member of the fifth cohort of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE-SJU) is a testament to his desire to help students from backgrounds similar to his own, according to Dessus. ACE-SJU is a two-year service program matching recent graduates with teaching or administrative roles in under-resourced Catholic schools in the Philadelphia region while pursuing a master’s degree at SJU.

At Gesu, Jackman, who is looking toward a counseling/guidance counselor career, helps students view themselves as part of a larger community, similar to what the ICC program provided for him. “It starts with community service, but extends to talking to each student and making him or her feel like someone cares about them,” he said. “I go beyond the job description to be present in their daily lives by assisting with basketball practice, playing and talking to them at recess and being involved with their afterschool activities.”

Sounds like Jackman’s Jesuit education has given him a great start.

Lenfest Scholars Program Gives Students a Head Start

Launched in 2006 as a partnership between Saint Joseph’s University and Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest, the Lenfest Scholars Program is a unique, incentive-based program for students enrolled at Philadelphia’s Gesu School who matriculate at Saint Joseph’s.

Each year, up to eight high-achieving Gesu seventh graders are invited to participate in the six-year program, through which they receive tuition credits toward a Saint Joseph’s education as an incentive for their continued academic excellence and college preparation.

During those six years, students engage in college awareness and enrichment programs through SJU’s Ignatian College Connection.

The inaugural cohort of Lenfest Scholars are juniors at Saint Joseph’s. Two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman attend SJU as Lenfest Scholars and are eligible for additional scholarship support through the James W. and Eileen R. Lannon Scholarship, named in memory of the parents of Saint Joseph’s 26th president, Timothy R. Lannon, S.J.

Complementary to the Ignatian College Connection, the Lenfest Scholars Program has enabled students from under-resourced areas to imagine a future that includes a college degree, truly allowing these students to live greater.