Barrett Summer Scholars: The honors college experience

4 minutes


Barrett Summer Scholars The honors college experience


When summer rolls around, most students want nothing more than to escape anything resembling a school. The students attending the Barrett Summer Scholars summer camp clearly think otherwise.

As the camp orientation began, jokes and laughs echoed around the auditorium as a few classrooms-full of students settled in. Ahead of them was a week of Barrett, The Honors College’s Human Event class, a challenging course centering around analytical evaluation of complicated texts, and they were all smiles.

Arizona State University’s Barrett, The Honors College, is widely recognized for its rigorous coursework and extracurricular opportunities. Founded in 1988, the college has long stood as ASU’s spotlight for academic excellence in its undergraduate class. However, its goal doesn’t stop at college students, as the Barrett Summer Scholars program seeks to prepare middle to high school students for college level coursework.

Barrett Summer Scholars uses cornerstone classes like Human Event to give students a handle on the level and rigor of college level coursework. By giving these students an early preview at their academic future, Barrett seeks to not only prepare but motivate students for the opportunities they’ll receive at Barrett.

Assistant Director of Outreach Experiences at Access ASU, Amy Ball, spoke on the goals of Barrett Summer Scholars.

“Barrett Summer Scholars is a program put on by Access ASU, in partnership with several departments and colleges at ASU, and we’ve brought in a hundred incoming ninth graders from all over the state to give them a taste of what the college experience is like,” Ball said.

“They are going to have two classes taught by ASU staff and faculty,” continued Ball. “Besides Human Event, which is a mandatory class within the Barrett Honors College, there are various electives like engineering, sustainability, healthcare and more.”

If you are a student reading this, but unsure about the prospect of being in school the whole time, Barrett Summer Scholars offers much more than just academics.

“Besides those college level classes we've also got a lot of team building, leadership activities and games. We've got a talent show coming up at the end of the week, which is always a highlight,” Ball said.

Classic camp games like, “get-the-oreo-from-your-forehead-to-your-mouth,” water balloon fights, arts and crafts and more extend the week of camp. Much more than that, the community building and team activities helped students form new bonds that they can take with them into their new school experience. Students who sat quiet at orientation, left boisterous and with a phone full of new contacts.

You know it was a good time when people were tearing up at ‘goodbye’.

“We want them to know there is a place for them here at ASU,” Ball said. “They are welcome here, they belong here and outreach experiences with Access ASU and the Barrett Summer Scholars team are ready to help them.”

ASU is a community, and no more was that evidenced than by the wonderful student ambassadors there at the camp. From setting up, to watching over, the student ambassadors were there every day to make sure the students were having fun, staying safe and getting the most from their experience.

Ambassador Armin Abdullahzadeh, a Barrett second year studying pre-med at the School of Life Sciences, spoke to the role of an ambassador.

“I would say it feels very much like being a parent,” said Abdullahzadeh. “You establish a lot of love for these kids and a lot of true and genuine care. And it's sad to see them leave at the end, but I'm also excited for at least the group that we just had right now, because they're about to enter their first year. It’s cool to see how these kids mature.”

Abdullahzadeh smiled as hundreds of kids chanted his name while he walked up on stage for closing remarks. There were chants, cheers and a child yelling “Armin, I love you” from the crowd. The impact of a caring community being redoubled.

“There is a lot of darkness in this world,” Abdullahzadeh went on. “With that being said, a lot of these kids are very vulnerable at such a young age. Knowing myself, my morals and my values, I think it’s important to be that sense of light for them and be that guardian for them because sometimes they don’t have access to that.”

Ambassador Sougata Nayak, a Barrett and masters student studying computer science at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, also spoke to the role of an ambassador and the natural allure of the role that brings him back.

“For me, when I see these kids, I remember being 13-14 years old,” Nayak said. “My point being, if there’s anything I could have said to my past self, I would just say to them. Because, I can’t say anything to myself at 14. But, if I can do that with these guys, if I can make just a little impact, that’s a win-win for me.”

The importance of camps like this extends far beyond the academic resources and challenges one might see on the surface level. It is an opportunity for community building, mentorship and belonging to let any young student know that they have a place for them here at ASU. 


Lily Thorne, ASU Educational Outreach and Student Services