Reception extends campus welcome to top high schoolers

Although achieving top grades in high school was a lot of work, it never felt like a burden, says Chelsea Bastien, “I just like learning and improving myself.”

A senior at Belle River District High School, she was among a select group of high school students whose accomplishments were celebrated Tuesday at the Presidential Scholars reception.

Bastien plans to study social work and disability studies at the University of Windsor in September. Her parents Brenda and Phil Bastien joined her for the May 15 reception in the CAW Student Centre, which welcomed dozens of the region’s highest-achieving graduating students to meet and greet faculty members in their preferred programs.

“Chelsea has been on the honour roll all the way through high school,” said her mother. “She has worked very hard and will get a lot of support from her family at home. We’re all pulling for her to continue to succeed.”

Emilia Iacobelli, a grade 12 students at LaSalle’s St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic Secondary School, said she was “honoured and excited” to receive an invitation to the reception.

She plans a career in physiotherapy and will begin studies toward a concurrent degree in chemistry and education at UWindsor this fall. The program also qualifies her for an Outstanding Scholars award.

“It’s an excellent opportunity,” she said. “I am really looking forward to getting to campus.”

Assumption student Daniella Pallisco hasn’t decided on her university yet. She said the campus atmosphere will be a factor in her decision, and that Tuesday’s reception — like her experience as a debater in Odette's Richard Peddie High School Debate Competition earlier this semester — was a point in Windsor’s favour.

“It speaks volumes about the university that they are willing to go out of their way to make us feel appreciated,” she said.

That’s the whole idea, says Dave Bussière, assistant vice-president for admissions.

“We want to attract the top students to our programs,” he said. “This evening, which gives them a chance for informal interaction with professors, deans, and even the university president, shows how much we care.”

The guests had a chance to hear formal presentations from president Alan Wildeman as well as former Presidential Scholar Jessica Smith, a graduand in arts and sciences preparing for medical school, and Derek Lanoue, a chemistry student and star player with the Lancer hockey team.

Watch a video from the event: