Sherley Pagan in Prague

Diversity Enrollment in Honors Program Soars at Framingham State

Through a targeted effort, Framingham State has been able to significantly increase diverse enrollment in its Commonwealth Honors Program, without impacting its overall success.

Honors Program Enrollment

Sherley Pagan Figueroa knew almost nothing about the historic City of Prague prior to signing up for a six-week study abroad experience in the Czech Republic last summer as part of Framingham State University’s Honors Program.

“I was blown away by the beauty and history of the city,” says Figueroa, who is originally from Puerto Rico. “I feel like it should be a more talked about destination.”

Figueroa, a junior Biology major who plans to attend Medical School after graduation, is part of an increasingly diverse population of students in Framingham State’s popular Commonwealth Honors Program. Diversity enrollment in the program has grown from 7 percent to 19 percent in recent years.

“To have a truly dynamic honors community on campus, you need the variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences that come from a diverse student population,” says FSU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Linda Vaden-Goad. “We’re excited about the growth we have seen in this area and we are dedicated to continuing the positive trend.”

Several factors have contributed to the University’s success in diversifying the Honors program, not the least of which is the fact that Framingham State’s overall population is increasingly diverse. But credit is also due to an effort to recruit students who do well academically during their first semester on campus to transfer into the program during the spring semester of their first year.

“We have sought out students whose high school GPA or board scores did not meet our admissions criteria, but who have demonstrated academic excellence during their first semester in college,” says Dr. Paul Bruno, director of the Framingham State Honors Program.

The University has resisted lowering the standards for admissions into the program, and so far the overall positive outcomes have remained steady. This includes a 92% retention rate for honors students (versus 76% for the general population) and a 75% graduation rate (versus 54% for the general population).

For students like Figueroa, being part of the honors community at FSU has been a highlight of their time at the University.

“They put on a lot of activities and events that build that sense of community,” says Figueroa, who has begun work on her Honors Thesis, which is a literary review of publications on Alzheimer's disease. “I’ve really enjoyed the program.”