Spring is an exciting time of year for Kalamazoo Valley Community College Honors Program Director Stephen Louisell. As his graduating students decide which colleges they will transfer to, Louisell shares that news with enthusiasm and pride.
International Studies graduate Christal Stricklin is the seventh honors program student to be accepted at the University of Michigan this year. “My guess is she will decline her acceptance because her heart is set on attending Middlebury College and their notices have yet to be sent out,” Louisell said. “But only top-notch students are chosen by admissions officials in Ann Arbor. So it is a distinction not to be taken for granted.” Stricklin has traveled to Russia twice and participated in the Russian Immersion Program at the elite liberal arts campus of Middlebury College in Vermont.
She earned multiple degrees from Kalamazoo Valley, sits on the Board of Directors for the Kalamazoo Russian Cultural Association and is one of four co-directors of the group’s annual Russian Festival.
Stricklin said Kalamazoo Valley helped set the stage for all of her achievements. “Kalamazoo Valley prepared me for rigorous study at a prestigious university because the Honors Program is competitive, yet supportive,” she said. “At other universities you don’t have that expertise. My program, and subsequently my studies, were customized to fit me personally.”
Honors Program graduate Veronica Hayden, a Hastings native, has been accepted at Kalamazoo College and is likely to begin studies there in September. She has also been accepted at Hillsdale College.
“She will be following in the footsteps of a number of honors program graduates who have understood the value of a Kalamazoo College education,” Louisell said. “In addition, she will continue her love of varsity basketball across town.”
Louisell gives Hayden high praise. “Several Hastings High School graduates have been members of our honors community,” he said. “But none has been more conscientious than Veronica. Despite her rigorous schedule of academics and athletics, she has always presented commendable work. And she is equally adept at mathematics and the liberal arts. The weekly writing assignments Veronica completed in the honors TA seminar were consistently among the top two or three out of the 21 students enrolled. There is no doubt that Veronica will flourish at Kalamazoo College.”
Hayden received an Associate of Arts degree from Kalamazoo Valley. In addition to being an honors college student, she played on the basketball team and was this year’s recipient of the Dale B. Lake Award for athletic, academic and leadership achievement.
She plans to major in finance when she transfers and is spending the summer working in an accounting department. “Kalamazoo Valley’s Honors Program was great,” she said. “We have a lot of people from the honors college transferring to prestigious colleges. I think it’s great that these high class schools are looking at us. I definitely feel like Kalamazoo Valley prepared me to move on to a top notch college.”