news-category: Summer Enrichment Programs

High Schoolers Receive First-Hand Knowledge of Campus Life Through Honors Experience

A group of students seated at a table in a science lab building an electric machine.

Participants are Automatically Invited to Compete for Ignite Excellence Scholarship

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—After spending a week immersed into campus life at Gardner-Webb University, Troy Berchoff, of Mooresville, N.C., is excited about applying early and making GWU his college home. The faith-oriented atmosphere is important to him. “My favorite part was how well everybody connected from the start,” he shared.  

Berchoff was one of 29 high school students who recently participated in the Honors Experience at Gardner-Webb. They stayed in residence halls, ate in the cafeteria, went to classes, studied the Bible, volunteered, and worked to solve a need in the community.  

After attending the Honors Experience, Troy Berchoff, second
from right, is sure he wants to attend college at Gardner-Webb.

“They had a tremendous week,” asserted Robbie Gaines, associate minister for Community Engagement & Athletic Ministries. “It was a good opportunity for Gardner-Webb to be a place that invested in these students spiritually and intellectually. We had a lot of fun, and we did that in community.”  

Grace Snyder, of Shelby, N.C., also appreciated the opportunity to form relationships with other students. “My favorite part of the Honors Experience was meeting new people and capturing a glimpse into the college life at GWU with them,” she observed.  

Like the others, Kimberly Bell, of Lincolnton, N.C., affirmed that the most important experience for her was establishing connections with the people she met. “I learned how to come out of my shell and be a part of the community around me,” she noted.  

The Honors Experience is open to academically gifted and talented students in grades nine through 11. Students who are accepted into the program are automatically invited to compete for Gardner-Webb’s Ignite Excellence Scholarship.  

Integral to the week’s success are the counselors—Gardner-Webb juniors and seniors—who mentor the students throughout the week. “They all love Gardner-Webb and are great representatives of what it looks like to be a Runnin’ Bulldog,” Gaines noted.  

Grace Snyder, left, enjoyed meeting new people at the Honors Experience.

During the morning chapel time, Gaines and other staff members from the Office of Christian Life and Service led devotions on 1 Peter 1:13-25, which focuses on living for Christ and loving one another. They also talked about the parable of the Good Samaritan and answered the question, “Who is my neighbor?”  

Participants chose two classes to attend. The subjects included English, exercise science, physics, photography and videography and forensics.  

The afternoons were devoted to volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, helping at the Green Bethel Baptist Food Pantry or working on the innovation challenge project, which asks students to identify a need in the community and work collaboratively to solve it. They chose to tackle the problems of homelessness and education. At the end of the week, they shared their ideas with a panel of faculty, staff and community partners.  

Kimberly Bell, right, said the most important part of attending the Honors Experience for her was making new friends.

Honors Experience Participants

From Lincoln Charter School:

  • Jack Beasley, Iron Station, N.C.
  • Jocelyn Ruiz, Lincolnton, N.C.
  • Joshua Mora, Lincolnton, N.C.
  • Kimberly Bell, Lincolnton, N.C.
  • Luke York, Cherryville, N.C.
  • Zachary “Zack” Garner, Crouse, N.C.

From Gaston Christian School:

  • Michael Beebe, Gastonia, N.C.
  • Alexis Gantt, Bessemer City, N.C.
  • Kailey O’Donoghue, Belmont, N.C.

Other schools:

  • Johnnae Alston, Bishopville, S.C., Lee Central High School
  • Abrielle Dunlap, Gastonia, N.C., Cumberland Christian Academy
  • Alejandro Arredondo, Forest City, N.C., Chase High School
  • Ashley Colson, Union, S.C., Union County High School
  • Chloe Ventura, Concord, N.C., West Cabarrus High School
  • Daissy Soto, Shelby, N.C., Pinnacle Classical Academy
  • Eduardo Ruthes, Battleboro, N.C., Rocky Mount Academy
  • Elyse Henkel, Granite Falls, N.C., South Caldwell High School
  • Grace Snyder, Shelby, N.C., Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy
  • James Brooks, Yorktown, Va., Tabb High School
  • Jesse Padgett II, Asheville, N.C., A.C. Reynolds High School
  • Julia Karnilowicz, Rock Hill, S.C., Rock Hill High School
  • Kendall Lewis, Harrisburg, N.C., Hickory Ridge High School
  • Kensley Marlowe, Grover, N.C., Burns High School
  • Kosi Archie, Charlotte, N.C., Bridge School
  • Lacey Cozart, Sophia, N.C., Randleman High School
  • LeAnna Mullis, Matthews, N.C., David W. Butler High School
  • Macarthy Monteith, Gastonia, N.C., Homeschool
  • Troy Berchoff, Mooresville, N.C., Mooresville Senior High School
  • Baylee Herring, Hope Mills, N.C., Northwood Temple Academy

  GWU Student Counselors

  • Garrett Despres
  • Jenna McKee
  • Trevor Wyatt
  • Robert Osowski
  • Katelyn Suggs
  • Jacquelyn Carroll

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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