FRESNO — Fifty high school graduates throughout the state are now part of the 18th class of the President’s Honors Scholars in the Smittcamp Family Honors College at California State University, Fresno. Five of these students were graduates from Hanford High School.
Mara Lewis, Micah Olivas, Cameron Standridge, Emma Van Fossen and Dominic Zoldak graduated from Hanford High in June and started their freshman year at Fresno State this week. Freshmen were selected from a pool with more than 500 applicants.
Lewis said she did not expect to be one of the 50 students who were chosen as scholars. Originally, she received a full ride scholarship to Oklahoma State University, but declined to attend after finding out she had been accepted into the program at Fresno State.
“Fresno State is close to home, and I am really involved with my family,” she said. It just has a great environment. There was nothing more that I could have wished for.”
Lewis is majoring in speech pathology and minoring in deaf studies. She hopes being in an honors college will help her when she applies to graduate programs in San Diego or the East Coast.
So far, she said her first week at Fresno State has being running smoothly. She is taking 16 units this semester.
Applicants must score 1800 or above on the SAT or score 27 or above on the ACT, be in the upper 10 percent of their graduating class or have a minimum 3.8 GPA in college-preparation classes.
The students selected receive a President’s Honors Scholarship annually for their undergraduate studies up to a maximum of eight semesters. Scholarships cover in-state registration and an optional credit for on-campus housing.
Scholars are required to volunteer for at least 70 hours of community service through their junior year. To remain in the program, students must enroll in at least 12 units and earn at least a 3.25 GPA during the first two years and a 3.5 GPA during the last two years of college.
Scholars take a series of specially designed honors courses. Students also participate in weekly academic seminars with guest speakers and interact in educational, scholarly and social activities.
“The best thing it has to offer is our honors colloquium,” Lewis said. “I get to listen to different speakers. I get to learn things outside of my major.”
The Smittcamp Family Honors College was established in 1998 with a $1 million gift from the late Earl and Muriel Smittcamp and their family.
Dr. Saeed Attar, director of the Smittcamp Family Honors College, said he hopes to see more students apply from different parts of the Valley.
"It's about going beyond the basic requirements on getting a bachelor's degree," he said. "I see a very good future for the honors college and the students."
“I would just like to encourage all students who worked hard in high school to apply to Smittcamp,” Lewis said. “It’s really rewarding to see all these students come together and push each other to become better students.”