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Students Share Highlights of their Widener Education on a National Stage


Widener senior Nicole Crossey, pictured left, participates in a student panel presented by NAC&U on integrated learning.

Four Widener students recently traveled to our nation’s capital to take part in a series of events presented by the New American Colleges and Universities, of which Widener is a member. The events aimed to showcase NAC&U member institutions’ approach to teaching and learning, which is the integration of liberal education, professional studies and civic engagement to prepare students for careers and lives as contributing, global citizens.

Sophomore Ndobolo Bukasa, junior Thomas Herrera and junior Djene Sylla participated in the first NAC&U event, a Congressional Briefing, during which they showed a poster detailing a project that connected Widener French students with French-speaking immigrants in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, to help the immigrants with their transition into the United States. The students helped the immigrants with a range of tasks, including scheduling doctor appointments and enrolling in high school. In return, they practiced speaking French and learned about the Francophone culture.

“It was a great experience to meet new people who stopped to hear about our project,” said Bukasa. “Some of the faculty members from other NAC&U schools showed a real interest in replicating our model with their students.”

Sylla, a French major, said that by partnering with Bukasa, a French and nursing double major, and Herrera, an environmental science major who used geographic information system mapping to locate the French speakers near Widener, their project was truly interdisciplinary. “This gave us each a chance to share our knowledge and experiences to help others,” she said.

Senior Nicole Crossey, a triple history, international relations and political science major, participated in another NAC&U-sponsored event, a panel discussion held during the Association of American Colleges and Universities Annual Meeting. She was asked to share why she values college learning and how it connects to engagement beyond campus.

“I talked about my work this semester in a one-credit course taught by Dr. Wes Leckrone in which we are creating educational materials to teach middle school children about the presidential election,” Crossey said. “Leaders create other leaders in my mind, so my hope is that these middle schoolers teach their younger siblings, which will eventually lead to more active and informed citizens overall.”

Crossey also shared her experience creating the Super PAC “College Students Concerned by College Costs” as a freshman in Leckrone’s Introductory to American Government honors course. This led to her participation in the past three Student Lobby Days organized by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.

“I was asked if there was an educational moment when my liberal arts education connected with professional studies, and I referenced my first Lobby Day experience,” Crossey said. “I originally thought politics was intimidating, but when I met some of the elected officials and realized how open they are to hearing from citizens and are willing to compromise to best serve their constituents, my opinion of politics changed. Now I could see myself working someday as a lobbyist after law school.”

Widener strives to inspire its students to be citizens of character who demonstrate professional and civic leadership. The university provides a wide variety of opportunities for students to develop leadership skills in the classroom, around campus and in in their communities. The Oskin Leadership Institute at Widener offers signature programs to inspire our students to be strategic leaders and responsible citizens who possess the character, courage and competencies to affect positive change throughout the world.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. are proud to be a tobacco-free. Visit the university website,