University of Scranton Kicks Off New STEM Honors Program

WAYNE COUNTY, Pa. --  Some new college freshmen are kicking off their higher education in an unusual way. Before the University of Scranton students move into their dorms this weekend, they're spending some time in the woods.

About a dozen incoming University of Scranton freshmen are a long way from campus. This week, they're trading Scranton's Hill Section for Lacawac Sanctuary along Lake Wallenpaupack.

They are members of the university's new STEM honors program--students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math.

"Many of them are pre-med, which is wonderful. Some of them are in engineering, computer science, mathematics. Also, many times students don't know what the opportunities are in STEM, so part of this program is to help them learn about career opportunities," said University of Scranton biology professor Janice Voltzow.

This is the first step in their college careers. They won't move into their dorms until the weekend. For now, it's more rustic accommodations with their new roommates.

"I thought getting to know other students in other STEM majors, not just the biology kids, was a really cool part, a group of older students, too. It's only 10 or 12 kids from each grade, so getting to know some older kids who can guide me or give me some info on good classes or good steps to take in the future," said student Julia Turnak.

This week, the STEM students are studying trees at Lacawac Sanctuary and the effect the deer population has had on them, but their professors say the point of this retreat is a little more simple.

"The main goal is for them to get to know each other, to start feeling comfortable with starting at the university, to start thinking about themselves as scientists and engineers and professionals in STEM, and to just start feeling like part of the community," Voltzow added.

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