McNeese showcases highest-achieving students

Virtual Academic Signing Day this year amid COVID-19 pandemic

Academic Signing Day is a national celebration of academically talented high school students making a commitment to their college of choice. In light of COVID-19 campus closures, McNeese State University chose to host a virtual Academic Signing Day in order to spotlight its brightest crop of new students.

Toby Osburn, McNeese associate vice president for enrollment management, said the university wanted to assure its incoming freshmen of their mutual commitment soon to begin in the fall.

“We know these students are ready to come to McNeese and we want them to know we are ready to welcome them,” Osburn said. “Our incoming students have worked hard for these scholarship awards and we want them to get the recognition they deserve.”

Like many organizations, McNeese utilized social media and invited students to join the celebration by posting their signing day pictures and videos using the hashtag #McNeeseBound and #First Choice.

Jaci Stelly, a native of Hardin, Texas, participated in the festivity.

“I didn’t even know that was a thing. I thought it was just an athlete’s type thing,” she said, describing her initial response when she received the invitation to participate in the signing day. After discussing the event with her parents and realizing that its intent was to honor her academic success, she said, “We signed up that day.”

Stelly said she felt especially honored after realizing McNeese is one of only a few universities that honor academic scholarship recipients in this manner.

“When I told my friend that was going to A&M she was like, ‘What the heck? You would think we would have something like that.’ So, I guess it is pretty unique for McNeese to offer this,” she said.

Living about an hour and a half away from campus, Stelly said she’d only visited the campus a handful of times but the opportunity to take the full tour along with other prospective students sealed the deal.

“I just fell in love with it. Right when I walked in it was like, ‘This feels like home.’ ”

McNeese is continuing to work with prospective students through its Student Central, which is operating through phone, email, text and soon, Zoom video conferencing. Prospective students can even take virtual tours of the campus by visiting, www.mcneese.edu/admissions/campus-visit.

“Students and parents can have confidence we are still operating even though there are few people on campus right now,” Osburn said. “Even though our enrollment team is working remotely, we’re operating at 100 percent capacity.”

McNeese State University is accepting applications for the summer and fall semester. For more information, to apply or to connect with a recruiter, visit www.mcneese.edu/admissions or call 337-475-5065.Jaci Stelly of Hardin, Texas, poses for her McNeese State University virtual academic signing day.  

Special to the American Press

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