Prior to starting the spring semester at their various four-year universities and graduate schools, dozens of Brookdale honors graduates returned to campus on Jan. 5 for this year’s Honors Program Reunion. The alumni gathered in the Bankier Library to eat pizza, reminisce and trade stories about their first semesters and first years away from Brookdale.
“It has been fantastic. It is just so much fun,” said 2013 Brookdale graduate Daniela Berson, who is now pursuing broadcast journalism at American University. “I transferred immediately into the honors program there, and I have a lot of autonomy now to pursue my goals. I definitely felt prepared after leaving here.”
The Brookdale Honors Program, established in the 1990’s, adopted a more collaborative cohort system in 2010. Since then, honors students entering the program at the same time have been able to take more classes together and build a stronger sense of community among their classmates. That bond, according to Honors Coordinator and history Professor Laura Neitzel, lasts long after graduation.
“Our graduates who go to Rutgers, for example, will stay in touch when they get there,” Neitzel said. “While they are here, they are in the company of students who are as dedicated as they are. They push each other, and they support each other.”
Recent graduate Nick Calabro, now pursuing an accounting degree at Rider University, agreed.
“When you have a lot of courses with the same people, you make a lot of connections. Your classmates keep you on track, and you move forward together,” he said.
Each of the honors alumni, representing the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014, also received scholarships through the Brookdale Foundation.
The reunion, sponsored by the Brookdale Alumni Association, also gave the students a chance to reminisce with their former honors faculty, including Dean Carl Calendar, History Professor Jess LeVine and Philosophy Professor Darlene Macomber.
“I definitely think the faculty were the best part of the program for me,” said 2014 graduate Victoria Anderson, who is now working toward an international studies degree at American University. “It was pretty much a mentorship. You could go to them with your concerns at any time and they were always willing to help.”
Other attendees, currently pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees at schools such as Georgetown University, Cairn University, New Jersey City University and the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, said they regularly keep in touch with their former Brookdale faculty and classmates. Cohorts have their own Facebook pages and meet regularly for hibachi dinners. Most importantly, said Anderson, they continue to push each other long after graduation.
“Some of my best friends are from here,” she said. “Coming to Brookdale, I never thought that was going to happen. It was such a great experience. I would recommend this honors program to anyone.”
For more information on the Brookdale Honors Program, click here.
For more information on the Brookdale Foundation or Alumni Association, click here.
Check out more photos of the reunion here.