Nicholls State University participates in the Reginald F. Lewis Scholars Program for the second year in a row

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University is participating in the Reginald F. Lewis Scholars program for the second year in a row along with the eight other University of Louisiana System member institutions.

Reginald F. Lewis Scholars is a cohort program designed to enhance the collegiate experience of black males across the UL System. The program recruits black male students and provides educational programs, mentoring opportunities and co-curricular experiences. 

Each cohort will comprise two students chosen from each University of Louisiana System member institution for a total of 18 new members each year. Currently, the program has 35 students. Next year will add another 18 in the program bringing the total number of scholars to 53. Each year subsequent, the program should maintain 54 members. 

Representing Nicholls in Cohort 2 of the Reginald F. Lewis Scholars are sophomores Deon Charles and Charleston Rainey, and returning to the program to represent Cohort 1 are juniors John Edmonds and Lance Jones. Nicholls created a committee to review all freshman males who met the criteria for the program, encouraged those students to apply, reviewed applications, performed an interview process and identified the scholars. 

The goals of the program are to:

  • Strengthen the secondary-to-higher education pipeline to enable more Black male students to attend college
  • Increase admission, persistence and graduation rates across the UL System
  • Improve the social, academic and financial support structures for Black male students
  • Facilitate and promote mentoring development
  • Improve employment prospects for Black males after graduation.

The three-year curated educational experience supports the pursuit of academic excellence through research and study abroad opportunities, develops knowledge and skills through annual service learning projects by partnering with the System’s Management and Leadership Institute, and strengthens the scholars’ social and network capital through mentorship and the annual scholars retreat. 

“The program is phenomenal. I expect to see more programs like this not only in Louisiana but across the country. It gives the gentlemen the opportunity to make connections with individuals and others that are connected to the program that they wouldn’t have networked with without the program,” Nicholls Assistant Vice President for Human Resources, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Title IX Coordinator Steven H. Kenney, Jr. said. “It’s a curated educational experience. It’s not only designed to educate but to be a holistic experience for the gentlemen to emerge as well-rounded leaders.”

The first year of the program during their sophomore year focuses on the scholars’ academic experience. Scholars will have the opportunity to present their research at the University of Louisiana System’s Academic Summit as well as other disciplinary professional academic conferences.

For their study abroad experience, scholars will participate in a faculty-led research and international exchange program. This will take place over two semesters during the scholar’s junior year. The first semester of his junior year will involve registering for a cultural competency course at the ULS institution where the scholar is enrolled. This course will be taught by the faculty member who will lead the study abroad trip. 

During the second semester of his junior year, the scholar will enroll in a research and travel abroad class at the ULS institution where he is enrolled. As part of the class, all ULS scholars will be assigned a topic of research to work on jointly with students from a ULS international host institution. During the same semester, scholars will travel abroad to the host institution to present the research alongside students from the host institution. 

Nicholls junior Cohort 1 scholars, John Edmonds and Lance Jones, are in their cultural competency course for their study and travel abroad experience that will take place in the spring of 2023 in France. The preparation course is taught by Dr. Marcus Jones, President of Northwestern State University, who was instrumental in the development of the Reginald F. Lewis Scholars program. 

The scholars’ senior year and third year of the program focuses on community experience. The Management and Leadership Institute for the Universities of Louisiana offer community experience through a two-semester program for mid-career faculty and staff who aspire to broaden their leadership roles through workshop sessions, and the scholars will have the opportunity to participate in the sessions held at their University’s campus. The scholars will also collaborate with the University of Louisiana System Student Advisory Council annually to participate in a system-wide service learning initiative. 

Reginald F. Lewis Scholars on each campus will be mentored by faculty, staff and upper-class students. Each campus creates a mentoring team to support the scholars. Scholars will experience one-on-one mentoring, professional and personal development through participating in workshops with their mentors and planned socials with campus and student leaders. 

Scholars are also required to participate in a retreat experience annually. The retreat will offer students the opportunity to engage in team-building exercises, set personal goals for the upcoming year, develop leadership skills and strengthen collaborations. 

The UL system invests $15,000 in each scholar’s tuition and fees. To support the Reginald F. Lewis Scholars, please consider donating or sponsoring a scholar’s experience. Below is a breakdown of costs associated with each scholar’s three-year experience:

  • Reginald F. Lewis Scholar Sponsor: $30,000
  • Study Abroad Sponsor: $20,000
  • Scholars Retreat Sponsor: $10,000
  • Academic Sponsor: $5,000
  • Community Sponsor: $2,500
  • Mentorship Sponsor: $1,000
  • Leadership Sponsor: $500

For more information on available scholarships at Nicholls, please visit https://www.nicholls.edu/financial-aid/scholarships/. For more information on the Reginald F. Lewis Scholars, visit https://www.ulsystem.edu/rflewis-scholars/.  

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 9, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Jerad David, Director of Communications, 985.448.4303 or jerad.david@nicholls.edu

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