New group of Presidential Scholars study at both NJ campuses

By Kenna Caprio

Thirty-nine new Presidential Scholars started classes at Fairleigh Dickinson University in August. An expansion of the Presidential Scholarship, which now provides full tuition on a merit basis to select incoming freshmen at the Metropolitan and Florham Campuses, caused a surge in the number of applicants and recipients.

“We are so proud and pleased to welcome these very bright and talented students,” says University President Sheldon Drucker. “We congratulate them on their achievement and the beginning of a great educational opportunity. These students will be challenged, enlightened and inspired by their experiences at FDU.”

Prez Scholars
University President Sheldon Drucker welcomes the new crop of Presidential Scholars to the Florham Campus at a luncheon. His lunch with Metropolitan Campus Presidential Scholars is forthcoming.

Originally, the scholarship was only offered to Bergen County students interested in attending the Metropolitan Campus, as an academic and financial incentive to increase the resident student population. In a later iteration, the scholarship expanded to include students from outside of New Jersey looking to study and live at the Metropolitan Campus. The Class of 2018 will be the first to have Presidential Scholar graduates from both New Jersey campuses.

“We’re seeking to recruit high achievers at FDU. President Drucker and Vice President of Enrollment Management Jonathan Wexler discussed the success of and interest in the scholarship and decided to offer it to Florham students, too,” says Drew Ippolito, director of undergraduate admissions at the Metropolitan Campus.

Criteria for the scholarship are stringent — nominees must be recommended by their guidance counselor, and maintain a 3.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and score a 1300 (on the 1600 scale) on the SATs.

The Presidential Scholarship, which is not endowed, is part of special funding that FDU offers to recruit high-caliber students.

“This is a huge piece of financial aid that helps make FDU more affordable,” says Ippolito. “Without these kinds of generous scholarship programs, fewer students could afford to study here. FDU is among the most generous of the private universities in the state, and by attracting high-achievers, we enhance the school for everyone.”

Ippolito says that the scholarship requires students to live on campus to encourage a well-rounded education, full of academic, social and athletic pursuits. “These students have the ability to learn and live together on campus,” adds Wexler. “They will add a tremendous amount of leadership and excitement to each overall campus community.” Often, Presidential Scholars go on to become Global Scholars at the Metropolitan Campus or enroll in the University Honors Program offered at the Metropolitan or Florham Campus.

“I can only imagine where I’d be without my scholarship — worrying about money instead of homework, working two to three jobs instead of participating in extracurricular activities, graduating with crippling debt, or maybe not graduating at all,” says Megan Fry, BA’14 (Metro).

“I knew from an early age that I would have to put myself through college, and since I wasn’t an athlete, I threw myself into academics,” Fry continues. In high school, she dedicated herself to lengthy study, writing and tutoring sessions. “There were plenty of times I wanted to quit, but I pushed through.” Fry, also a Global Scholar and honors student, served as a Student Pinnacle at the University’s 71st commencement, encouraging her cohort to have the courage to be a “world changer” in her address.

“Receiving my award letter felt like being handed the gold medal after an Olympic marathon,” she says. Now, in an effort to pay that feeling forward and demonstrate the value of an FDU education, Fry works as admissions counselor for the University, recruiting the next generation of motivated and gifted students.