New partnership broadens access, diversity at the College

Joseph Headen ’14 and Leah Mantei '14
Joseph Headen ’14 and Leah Mantei '14

When Joseph Headen ’14 arrived on campus last fall, after a 13-hour drive from Michigan, he brought something that few of his classmates possessed: an associate degree from a community college.

Headen and another junior, Leah Mantei, are the first students to enroll under a new Connecticut College initiative to attract qualified transfer students from selected community colleges. Headen and Mantei completed their associate degrees in a small honors program at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich.

"I'm excited about the potential for this program," says Carolyn Denard, dean of the college and senior diversity officer. "We are expanding access to a Connecticut College education for high-achieving, highly motivated students and, at the same time, expanding the range of perspectives and life experience represented into our student body, which contributes to the quality of education for all."

Headen maintained a 4.0 grade point average in the biology honors program at Henry Ford. Now he is majoring in behavioral neuroscience and following a pre-med track. He is also active in student government and interning as a paramedic.

In his first semester, he says, he was most struck by the beauty of the campus, the high level of support he received from faculty and the rigor of the academic program.

“The classes are harder,” Headen says. “It’s more academically challenging here.”

So far, his favorite class has been a music class with Professor John Anthony.

“He went so far out of his way to teach us about more than just music,” Headen says. “In his course, I learned about language, history, and philosophy – not just how to play the piano. That was a great experience.”

While Headen had never been outside Michigan before applying to Connecticut College, Mantei spent her junior year of high school in Münster, Germany, and speaks German fluently. At Henry Ford, Mantei earned her associate degree in Arabic cultural studies. She is living in Knowlton House, the foreign language residence, and plans to design her own major in Middle Eastern studies. Next fall, she hopes to study in Egypt. In the meantime, she works part-time for Information Services in the library and plays club soccer.

In addition to Henry Ford, the College is also working with Norwalk Community College in Norwalk, Conn.; Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, Mass.; Hostos Community College in the Bronx, N.Y.; and Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., to identify more promising students like Headen and Mantei. Each partner institution has a special program or focus, such as an honors program, that is complementary to Connecticut College’s academic program; additional partner institutions may be added in the future. The program is financially supported with a special fund established by the Goodnow family.

March 15, 2013