By Sloane Barlow and Bess German
An informal conversation between Michigan State University (MSU) interim president, Teresa Woodruff, and Dr. Valeria Jackson, a leader in Detroit public education, prompted Christopher P. Long, dean of the Honors College, to convene a group to lead a new partnership between the Honors College, Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), the MSU Detroit Center, and MSU’s Gifted and Talented Education program.
The collaborative leadership team including MSU and DPSCD administrators, Detroit-based artists, and MSU faculty created the early honors experience to help students build college readiness at an early age and see the city of Detroit in a new way. The primary purpose of the program is to encourage students to find their voice as scholars in their own community.
With the help of a Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant from the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, for the first time in early August, over 30 talented rising 8th and 9th grade students in DPSCD will experience a hands-on exploration of arts, technology, and science.
Each day will begin with themed activities led by experts and conclude with field experiences to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Apple Developer Academy, and the Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning, and Innovation (DPFLI). During the three-day program, students will be guided by community and faculty educators, including Detroit artist and author Oneita Jackson; Detroit artist and muralist Senghor Reid; MSU Director of African and African American Studies Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown; MSU Apple Developer Academy’s staff; MSU plant biology professor JinJie Liu and her colleagues, and Naim Edwards, MSU Extension Specialist at DPFLI.
The students will remain connected as MSU Detroit Early Honors Scholars throughout high school, with opportunities to visit Michigan State’s campus and participate in other supportive and enriching Michigan State pre-college programs. The MSU Detroit Early Honors Experience provides an innovative pathway for talented students to learn what it is like to be researchers and scholars.