Skip to Content
Clark State Welcomes Scholars to Campus with Inaugural Nest Fest Event

Clark State Welcomes Scholars to Campus with Inaugural Nest Fest Event

September 30, 2022

The Clark State College Scholars Program hosted its first Nest Fest event on Thursday, September 15 at the Eagles Nest on the main campus in Springfield. The event began with a welcome from Clark State president, Dr. Jo Alice Blondin. 

The Scholars program hosted the event to serve as a kick-off to the new school year. It was also the first welcome-back to campus post-pandemic event. Guests included scholars from all participating school districts: Springfield City Schools, Clark Shawnee, Graham, Tecumseh and Urbana.

The Clark State Foundation partnered with the school districts to identify eligible middle school students who will become the first in their families to earn a college degree. Upon graduation from high school, the students will be eligible for three years of college at Clark State at no cost to the students. An annual Scholars induction welcoming new participants is held during the spring semester each year.

“We were pleased that more than 150 guests, which consisted of scholars, their families and mentors, attended our inaugural Nest Fest event,” said Karen Hunt, director of the Clark State scholars program.  “It was an opportunity for high school scholars to learn about Clark State and tour the campus in an interactive scavenger hunt activity.”

A critical component of the Clark State Scholars program is the development of a support system to encourage the young scholars to work toward a college education and to help expose them to enrichment experiences they might not otherwise have. Thus, students in the Scholars program are mentored through their high school years.

“Mentors offer guidance and support to the youth we serve and are a positive influence in our communities,” said Toni Overholser, vice president of advancement at Clark State. “By sharing their time and talents, mentors help prepare first-generation college students for success.” 

Nest Fest provided an opportunity for the students and their families to meet their mentors before the first mentoring session begin in October.

“Nest Fest was created to be educational as well as a dash of fun,” said Hunt. “Students toured the campus by participating in a scavenger hunt. Faculty and staff were posted around the campus to provide interactive activities and information about Clark State for the students and upon completion of each visit, photos were taken. The tour/scavenger hunt was also designed to build teamwork and social skills.”

Hunt said parents participated in a separate tour to provide details of what Clark State has to offer their children.  

She said Clark State has great staff and faculty and thanks to teamwork, the College was able to make Nest Fest a memorable experience for the attendees.  

“As a former Champion City Scholar, I always looked forward to welcome-back events on Clark State's campus,” said Megan Cummins, youth coordinator for the Clark State Foundation. “Helping plan Nest Fest was near and dear to my heart for this reason, so it was important for me to help create an experience for our scholars where they could explore our campus and programs alongside the important people championing them! It was an honor to welcome back our scholars, their families, mentors, and support systems, and I look forward to having our scholars ‘soar’ back to campus for future events!”

The Scholars program began 18 years ago inducting middle school students into the Springfield City District. The Scholars program expanded in the last four years to include students from Champaign County and Clark County.

Upon selection to the program, all Scholars and their parents/guardians must sign a contract. The contract states the Scholars Program student must maintain a 2.0 or greater grade point average, maintain 93 percent or better school attendance, participate in at least 75 percent of the program activities, exhibit good citizenship, take classes in high school that will prepare the students for college and stay enrolled in the district in which they were inducted.

More information regarding the Clark State Scholars Program and mentoring is available at:

Media Contact

Lori Common Communications Coordinator