On Thursday, Jan. 23 at 3:30 p.m., 11 freshman students were celebrated for their success in earning a 4.0 grade point average in their first semester at Kean University. The celebration took place in the lobby of the Center for Academic Success (CAS). The event was small, with only 6 of the 11 students being able to attend, but the General Education faculty and staff stood by to watch them receive their awards.
Jonathan Mercantini, Ph.D., acting Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, presented the students with their awards, which consisted of a Certificate of Excellence and a $100 voucher for Ursino Steakhouse and Tavern. They were also given small gifts, such as pens and key chains.
This was the second year that this celebration was held. President of Kean University, Dawood Farahi, Ph.D., came up with the idea, to celebrate students who were doing well academically and to encourage others to follow in their footsteps. Mercantini also saw it as a chance to both uplift students who were able to bring themselves to a 4.0 GPA in their first semester and to motivate other students to try to achieve the same thing.
"We know how talented our students are...We got 11 students that got a 4.0. We'd always love for it to be more," said Mercantini. "[The certificate and voucher are] a small thing, but if that's something that motivates you to study a little harder, or get into a study group, or go for a little supplemental instruction, or something like that to get yourself over the top, then any kind of motivation like that, we're happy to provide."
One of the students, Sara Orbe, a freshman at Kean, echoed Mercantini's hope when she said that it was a great feeling to be honored in this way by the university. Orbe found it challenging, at first, to maintain good grades while also being a part of several clubs and working throughout the semester, but she was able to manage it due to her schedule working well with her club meetings. Orbe had advice for students who also want to achieve a 4.0 GPA, while still joining clubs and working:
"I think time management is the most important thing, and to also set really good priorities," said Orbe. "I would have to make sure that I did the most important things first and got those out of the way, and then, once I figured out what I needed to prioritize, it was easier to schedule."
The celebration was a way for everyone to see that obtaining a 4.0 GPA was both a possibility and something to aim for. Most of all, it was a way for the students to see that the achievements they had made had not gone unnoticed.
Mercantini continued, "It's just a really wonderful opportunity to celebrate some of our truly outstanding students. The transition from high school to college is a really big jump, and so to do all of the adjustments, the cultural adjustments, the social adjustments, having more responsibility, and then maintaining a perfect grade point average on top of it... it's great to celebrate that. It's always fun to celebrate the good news. I always say we don't get as many good days as we might like, and so when we get one, we want to celebrate it."