Solidly Scholarly

August 7, 2023

In this week’s episode, we talk with Ciaran Farley about what the New Hampshire Scholars program is and how students can get involved in it, plus all the events Ciaran creates to make sure the Scholars have a little fun.

Listen to the episode!

Today’s joke of the episode is, What do scholars snack on when they get hungry? Come back for our next episode in two weeks to find out a scholar’s favorite snack.

This week we spoke with Ciaran Farley, who serves as the Coordinator of New Hampshire Scholars. New Hampshire Scholars is a high school program meant to push students to choose and plan for a more rigorous course load to prepare them for the difficulty that comes with future college courses, vocational training, and workforce demands. Ciaran works with guidance counselors in New Hampshire high schools to promote the program, and plans additional events for the scholars to participate in outside of the classroom.

The New Hampshire Scholars program starts with a base plan that is called the Core Course of Study. “It’s the minimum requirements that you need to be a Scholar,” Ciaran explained. “If you are taking four years of math and English, three years of lab science, three and a half years of social studies; and the two
credits of foreign language–essentially, you take those and you pass them successfully, you’re automatically considered a New Hampshire Scholar.”

Unlike many high school honors programs and the National Honors Society, you don’t have to officially register in the New Hampshire Scholars program to become a Scholar. If throughout a student’s high school career they happen to follow the Core Course of Study framework, they’re automatically enrolled
as a New Hampshire Scholar when they graduate and reap the benefits from the program. This also allows students who find out about the program part way through high school to plan their future course schedules around the program’s requirements and become a New Hampshire Scholar.

Students can take the Core Course of Study above and beyond by enrolling in extra classes which fulfill Academic and Career Pathways put into place by New Hampshire Scholars. Ciaran shared that there are four different pathways that students can follow:

  • the STEM Pathway, where students take an additional year of courses in the science, technology, engineering, and/or math field
  • the Art Pathway, where students take an additional two years of courses in the arts
  • the STEAM Pathway, which combines the prior two pathways for one additional year of STEM courses and two additional years of art courses
  • the Career Pathway, which has students work with local businesses to achieve a career credit, a work-based learning experience credit, and credits which goes toward college credits, certificate programs, and other post-secondary achievements

If students are feeling up to it, there is the possibility to overlap the different pathways to achieve all of them throughout their high school career, though it takes a lot of intentional planning to find the time to fulfill the Core Course of Study as well as each additional aspect for the pathways. But those students
who are determined and organized can definitely achieve it if they put their minds to it. “It’s definitely possible,” Ciaran said, “and we see a good amount of students do it each year.”

But being a New Hampshire Scholar isn’t completely confined to the classroom. Community engagement isn’t a requirement for the program, but that doesn’t mean that New Hampshire Scholars doesn’t promote it throughout the school year for students to get involved with. “One of the more fun parts of my job this year has been creating those [engagement] opportunities for Scholars,” Ciaran shared.

One of the events she’s been able to put together includes an Earth Day of Service, and she was able to partner with Memorial High School in Manchester, Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Keene, and Merrimack High School to have all sorts of different students working together to clean up the greater New Hampshire community. There’s also been a new series of Industry Panels, where she invites business professionals, college and university representatives, and current students to talk about the industry they’re involved with to inform students about potential career pathways. There’s been two panels so far, one on the Utilities and the Agriculture industries, and Ciaran has more planned to come.

But the biggest event of the year is New Hampshire Scholars Day. “The Scholars Day is an opportunity to celebrate,” Ciaran explained. “These students put in four years of hard work, and we want to have a day at the end of the year just to say, ‘We appreciate your hard work and you did a great job.’” The Scholars Day is a mixture of recognition and fun, where the seniors from the different high schools involved with the program come together, and for some of them, meet each other for the first time. “A student from Manchester gets to maybe sit next to a student from Berlin,” Ciaran explained. “They’re more than three hours apart geographically, but on that day, they get to sit together and celebrate. It’s a great way to build community.”

Once the Scholars have graduated from high school, they’re eligible for different scholarships depending on the college, university, or trade school they choose to enroll in. “Specifically, if they’re going to school in New Hampshire,” Ciaran explained, “they’re eligible for what’s called the Governor’s Scholarship.” This
scholarship is traditionally awarded to any New Hampshire student who chooses to go to school in New Hampshire, but if you participate in the New Hampshire Scholars program, you’re eligible to receive an extra $1,000 towards your education. This becomes an overall $2,000 scholarship that students can use.

While New Hampshire Scholars offers students a ton of good things in learning to plan for their futures, engage with their communities, and a scholarship to help them in college, none of those are Ciaran’s favorite part of the program. “With a program like this, we’re helping you plan out things for sure,” Ciaran said, “but that roadmap kind of opens up possibilities […] That’s really exciting to me–students having the chance to explore the possibilities of what their futures could be.”

We closed out the episode with our usual bonus round, and Ciaran shared how getting her degree in theatre has helped her juggle her day to day work through organization and strategy, as well as the advice to be open to all the possibilities college has to offer. Which sounds very akin to her favorite part of the New Hampshire Scholars program, and she admitted that she must just be very passionate about exploring all the possibilities life has to offer.

The punchline to the joke of our last episode, which was “What did the lawyer name his daughter?” and he named her “Sue.” Just a little legal humor there. Come back in two weeks to learn about the snack choices of scholars with this week’s joke.

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