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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Presidential Scholars Weekend endures with new COVID-19 regulations

Mercer Professor of English Andrew Silver speaks to prospective Mercer students in Hawkins Arena Jan. 22.
Mercer Professor of English Andrew Silver speaks to prospective Mercer students in Hawkins Arena Jan. 22.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled many popular events at Mercer, the university has still managed to take control of the situation by adapting to safety protocols. One event Mercer was able to continue holding was its annual Presidential Scholars Weekend Jan. 22-23.

The event was hosted in the fall in previous years but was pushed back to the spring in an effort to better adapt to the pandemic.

Potential Mercerians and their families attended the event in limited numbers in an effort to safely mobilize during the weekend while still having an enjoyable experience.

The Mercer admissions team worked to implement safety precautions during the event such as separating the overall experience into three smaller, in-person sessions, removing the usual evening networking portion, requiring masks, enforcing proper spacing during assemblies and meals, doing temperature checks, only allowing one guest per student and administering regular cleanings after each in-person session.

Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Kelly Lynn Holloway noted that the admissions team has been hosting events such as daily campus tours — in-person and virtual — since returning summer 2020.

“We have made lots of precautions and adjustments to these events to be able to safely host them here on campus and to be able to provide our prospective students and families the opportunity to see and experience Mercer in a way that is safe,” Holloway said.

Holloway said that Presidential Scholars Weekend is important for these students to gain a better understanding of the college experience, even during a widespread pandemic.

“I think that an important part of the college search process is getting to talk to people and to be able to get a feel of what Mercer truly is,” Holloway said. “What we’re seeking to do is provide opportunities for prospective students to connect and provide opportunities for these kids to have conversations in a much safer way.”

Holloway said she was impressed by the cooperation from all parties in planning the event as well as by the fact that all parties complied with the COVID-19 safety guidelines. The school had more interviewer volunteers this year — both alumni and faculty — than any previous year for online and in-person interviews.

Deedee Cudjoe, an admissions worker and Mercer freshman, said she was impressed with the turnout and feedback, considering how strict the guidelines were this year.

“When I was giving tours or walking families to where they needed to go, they were always giving me positive feedback of the event,” Cudjoe said. “It was crazy but super fun and exciting to see everyone.”

Cudjoe has worked numerous events with the admissions team and said she has found that they have been very professional with adapting to the conditions set by the pandemic. She said she believes the admissions team takes the time to go the extra mile enforcing their guidelines in an effort to keep the events on campus safe while offering a fun time for prospective families.

“We all emphasize making all of our events memorable for everyone involved, and the Presidential Scholars Weekend was no exception,” Cudjoe said. “We have so many events, scholarships or not, already planned for the rest of the year where prospective students have the opportunity to experience life as a Mercerian. Safety is our first priority, and we definitely know how to maintain that at our events while having fun at the same time.”

Mercer’s admissions team is planning various future events for prospective students with similar safety guidelines in place to keep participants safe.


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