Brandywine High School student Gabe Brandt didn’t know any of his fellow participants at the start of the 40th annual Governor’s School for Excellence. But he quickly became acquainted with the other rising 11th-graders and ended the week with a bunch of new friends, a greater understanding of what to expect from the college experience and career opportunities that lie ahead.
Established in 1979, and sponsored by the Office of the Governor of the State of Delaware in cooperation with the Delaware Department of Education and the University of Delaware’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies (UD PCS), this summer’s Governor’s School for Excellence welcomed 116 students selected via a competitive application process after being nominated by their schools.
Held annually on the University of Delaware’s Newark campus, Governor’s School provides academic, artistic and leadership development.
“There were kids from high schools across the state, including some schools I never even heard of,” said Brandt. “Just getting to interact with them and spend the whole week together was really awesome.”
Consisting of traditional and non-traditional college-level education, leadership training, field trips, and recreational and social activities, Governor’s School is comprised of four programs: academic, visual arts, theatre and music.
The academic students focus on the humanities, business and economics, and physical and social sciences through discussions, lectures, debates and films. The visual and performing arts program provides tutorial instruction with a noted artist and culminates in a performance or public display of the students’ work.
All of the students interact with each other in the exploration of leadership, diversity, teamwork and creativity. The program, which includes lodging and meals, is provided at no cost to the participants, courtesy of the Office of the Governor.
“Once again, we were honored to bring together some of the state’s best and brightest students,” said coordinator Jason Thompson. “The true strength of the program is in the relationships that form between the students. The shared college experience creates bonds that, in many cases, last for years afterward.”
Brandt took part in the academic program and especially enjoyed a midweek field trip to UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus. He is considering a career in physical therapy or exercise physiology and was delighted with the hand-on activities, such as measuring body mass index and testing endurance.
“I was already interested in health sciences before Governor’s School, but then seeing the STAR Campus and all of the opportunities at UD specifically for that career path really intrigued me,” said Brandt. “UD has definitely become one of my top college choices.”
Wherever Brandt decides to enroll as an undergraduate, the Governor’s School experience has given him an outstanding taste of what awaits him. Along with living in a residence hall, interacting with college professors, and participating in classroom demonstrations, he learned about the need to set priorities.
“I definitely now have a better understanding of what is going to be expected of me in college,” said Brandt. “There is obviously a lot more freedom than in high school, but it’s really important to stay on top of your responsibilities, not get distracted by all the other fun you can have, and put your studies first.”
In addition to UD PCS, numerous University of Delaware units supported the 2018 Governor’s School for Excellence, including the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Sciences, College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, College of Engineering, Office of the Provost, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Campus Safety, Conference Services, Office of the Registrar, and Transportation.
“Due to the size of the program, Governor’s School would not be possible without the fantastic support from the governor’s office and the various units throughout the University, which enable us to run such a highly successful program,” said Thompson. “We are already looking forward to another year of amazing students and outstanding collaboration in 2019.”
Grateful that his guidance counselor told him he was chosen to apply, Brandt gives a 100 percent recommendation to others who are given the opportunity and said it is a great way to find out what you want to study in college.
“It is a huge honor to be asked to apply, and every student who is given that chance should go through the process,” said Brandt.