PHS National Honor Society takes trip to Hawkeye country

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A tour of the UI campus is not complete without a group picture in front of the Old Capitol Building.

How do you get a Cyclone willingly to make a college visit to the University of Iowa?

It takes a number of highly committed students who are leaders and strive for academic excellence inside the classroom. This group of students needs to be of high character and willing to work for the benefit of those in need, without the expectation of receiving anything in return.

It just so happens the National Honor Society (NHS) at Perry High School has a high number of students who follow the pillars of the organization: scholarship, leadership, character and service.

Students in front of the Old Capitol with West campus in the background.
Students in front of the Old Capitol with West campus in the background.

Last November the students held a free-will donation dinner at the NHS induction ceremony at the high school. The money raised allowed the students to select a private and public university to visit.

A near unanimous decision was made to visit Hawkeye country, and Vice President of Academics Victoria Hegstrom was put to work to get the details organized for the trip.

After spending the better part of a day on campus with the office of admissions, the students learned that the University of Iowa is a renowned research university that also happens to have a good football team.

When asked what he learned from the trip, PHS junior Devon Archer said, “The University of Iowa has many study options with many different career choices. The campus had the hometown feel in a large university setting.”

Along with the variety of majors, the U of I offers individualized academic support, including free math tutoring, research assistance and essay proofreading services.

Several of the students on the trip have already been accepted to the University or have it as their first choice once they graduate. Haley Vaughn, the daughter of two devout Hawkeyes, saw the trip as valuable even if she had already been on the Iowa City campus many times.

“I learned a ton about scholarship options,” Vaughn said, “and what goals I need to set now to get further in the future.”

Vaughn and the other students were engaged throughout the visit and asked insightful questions. The students were particularly interested to learn how the Des Moines Area Community College credits they currently earn in Perry might benefit them at Iowa.

Laura Goddard, senior admissions counselor in the University of Iowa Office of Admissions, was able to give the students the tools necessary to identify which credits will transfer as general education classes and which will transfer as electives.

A guided walking tour of campus was the highlight of the visit, even given the cold weather, because students were able to visit lectures, libraries, fitness centers and residence halls in order to gain insight into the freshman experience before they even step onto campus for their first day of classes.

Karley Whelchel said “I enjoyed being able to view the residence hall and see what it is like for an actual college student…the lunch was good too.” Lunch buffet was made even better when two Bluejay alumn joined the students for lunch. Jack Brosnahan, class of 2015, and Martin Paulin, class of 2012 shared some advice with the students. To end the day the students made their way to the Hawkeye shop where the Bluejays were given a discount on some Hawkeye apparel.

Future Hawkeye Ellie Nielsen will begin classes in August. She offered advice to other college-bound PHS students.

“Touring college campuses and seeing what they have to offer is vital in deciding your future,” Nielsen said. “You want to make sure you feel comfortable and at home before you make any decisions. I would also tell them to listen carefully to all the information in case they were to miss out on important points. Visit multiple colleges that you are interested because you never know if something better is waiting for you. Start early!”

The NHS members returned with plenty of motivation to take Ellie’s advice and are looking forward to another college visit in the spring, this time a private college. It just so happens this Cyclone is also a Drake Bulldog.

Students who made the University of Iowa campus visit were seniors Haleigh Kenyon, Ellie Nielsen, Alex Long, Mariah Duffy, Sean Riley, Haley Vaughn, Karley Whelchel and Kat Leesley, juniors Samantha Paulin, Alicia Calderon, Sarah Sweet, McKinley Thompson, Brooke Huntington, Hannah Sackett, Andrea Cortez and Devon Archer and freshman Kizya Soto.

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