Freshmen Honors College Students Show Resiliency Throughout Pandemic

Group photo of 2021 Freshman Honors College students outside of Honors College
Choosing to attend a college or university is a major decision for any high school senior. The COVID -19 pandemic made this choice even more difficult as the lockdown thrust many students, instructors, and staff into a fairly new form of untested educational format in online telecommuting rather than in-person instructing. 

One of Kent State’s largest incoming Honors College freshmen classes had a high school experience unlike any in modern history. They lost out on two years of proms, homecomings, and establishing friendships along with all the other shared teenage experiences. 

The incoming freshmen class of 2021 faced extreme adversity due to the COVID Pandemic-19. They faced financial insecurities about their own futures, as parents feared losing their careers, experienced loss of income, or endured reduced work hours.

Some students even experienced the loss of family members and friends due to the virus. Yet, they showed leadership in the community, maintained as much extracurricular activity as possible and took on challenging high school academic course loads. They took this hardship and pushed through, excelling in online courses, and did not let it stop them from applying to college. The 2021 freshmen class is entering the Honors College with an average high school unweighted GPA of 3.88, showing both their dedication to academic study, and their ability to persevere.

Alexa Blakley, freshman from Mansfield, Ohio, and member of the Honors Leadership Academy, is studying public relations, with a creative writing minor. She now lives on-campus in part of the Honors College Living-Learning Community in Stopher Hall, where many other honors students are enjoying an in-person college experience as well.

Many students adjusted their study techniques as their educational courses turned virtual at the start of the pandemic. Alexa explains that she came up with rhymes and songs to help her remember information when studying. She also notes that listening to music has helped her, stating that, “It keeps me from getting distracted by my surroundings so I can focus. And it makes it more fun!” Alexa shares that she is both happy and excited to return to in-person classes and interact with her fellow honors students and professors.

The excitement to be back in class for face-to-face interaction and live the real freshmen college experience is contagious throughout the Kent State campus community. The familiarity of being online over the last two years has led many honors students to adjust their study techniques for hybrid face-to-face and online course options.

Eric Brown, another member of the Honors Leadership Academy, is a Middle Childhood Education major, with a focus on Social Studies and Language Arts. Eric shares that he learned many things during his two years of online coursework, prior to college. Among those were a sense of personal responsibility, and also organizational skills; both which will serve him well in his upcoming years of higher education.

Mariha Ahammed, a member of the Honors Leadership Academy and a native of India, has chosen to study Computer Science, and ideally would like to reside in Osaka or Miyagi, Japan in 20 years. In her interview with the Honors College, Mariha shared her hopes of becoming a game designer, graphic designer or hacker for the FBI, as aspirations for her future.

As these students have swarmed back onto a once deserted campus, the dreams and goals of years to come are now present (and realistic), once again. With that, comes the excitement for the start of the school year, and also, a fresh start.

Mariha explains that she is excited about face-to-face interaction with professors and also, fellow freshmen. Mariha felt the last few semesters of online instruction were very much self-guided, and notes that she does not have interest for online lectures. 

Anthony Bishop, a member of the Honors Leadership Academy and native of Pittsburgh, has chosen to study Architecture with a minor in Business. In his interview, Anthony said that family and friends are his greatest motivation. He contributes their overwhelming support to his success. 

Anthony explained that he is extremely excited to be back in school. The online courses were difficult, but he adapted overtime. He also added that getting used to seeing people in classes is taking time to get used to but is looking forward to developing relationships with his fellow freshmen.

The university welcomed 3,982 new students this fall semester, who all showed resiliency throughout the pandemic, allowing them to take the next step of furthering their education. A record number of over 14% of those students first-year were admitted to the Honors College. This incoming class boasts excellent academic achievement, leadership skills and also high expectations for their next four years at Kent State.

For more information about the Honors College and the benefits of joining, please visit





PHOTO CAPTION: Photo of 2021 Freshmen Honors College students as a group outside of Honors College.


Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal,, 330-672-2312




POSTED: Friday, October 1, 2021 12:01 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 04:11 PM
Keith Castillo, Honors College Writing Intern