Kent State Welcomes Freshman Class of 2027

Honors College Admits Largest Class in History

Kent State University welcomed the Honors College’s largest incoming freshman class this fall, and the students are full of ambition, drive and focus. Despite the ongoing challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on incoming college students, these Kent State students are resilient and ready to embark on their future paths.

Dean of the Honors College Alison J. Smith, Ph.D., said this year marks the largest class size of incoming honors students in the history of the college, with 593 total first-year students, in comparison with 587 students in the fall of 2022. Included in that total are 10 international students, the largest number of international students entering the college during their freshman year to date.

“The honors freshmen are in every [undergraduate] degree-granting college and in most undergraduate majors,” Smith said. 

The College of Arts and Sciences attracted the most first-year honors students this year with almost 29% of the freshman class majoring in one or more of the college’s 42 majors, ranging from natural sciences and mathematics to social sciences and humanities.

The College of the Arts follows with just over 13% of incoming honors students selecting majors in visual, performing and design arts.

Other colleges gaining a significant number of honors freshmen this fall include the College of Education, Health and Human Services, as well as the College of Nursing and the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship

Headshot of Honors College Student Renee Ellis.

Freshman fashion design major Renee Ellis from Chicago, Illinois, is 1 of 170 honors students joining the College of Arts and Sciences and has lived in six states before coming to Kent State to pursue her education.

Renee dreams of owning her own fashion business someday. She is inspired by different cultures and interactions between people, and she would like to center her focus on that in her future production.

“Especially being black, I love to see how clothing can translate into a culture,” Renee said. “I'm into storytelling, so I feel like if I were to put up collections right now, the focus is on… having people tell their stories through the clothing.”

Renee already has many clubs she’s interested in and taking part in, such as Black United Students (BUS), Kupita/Transiciones (KT), Neo Impact and Sister Circle.

Renee was drawn to the Honors College because she has been an honors student since high school and loves the challenge of honors courses.

As a freshman, Renee was accepted as a member of the Honors Leadership Academy (HLA), which connects incoming Honors College freshmen to leadership learning and civic engagement in the local community. Students are selected for this program based on excellent high school leadership experiences.

Aside from studying for classes, being a part of the HLA and multiple organizations and clubs, Renee enjoys cooking, baking and listening to her favorite music: gospel, R&B, Afrobeats reggae and rap.

Honors College Student Annie Wendt in color guard uniform.

Freshman political science major Annie Wendt from Dublin, Ohio, is on the pre-law track and expresses her passion in her choice of career path. Annie said she remembered attending her first protest at the age of 7.

“I see something, and I want to fix it,” Annie said. “I feel like people are just getting more and more polarized, and I would like to try to help people, [and I] think that this is the best way to do that,” she said.

When it comes to a career goal, Annie could see herself as a representative or congresswoman, but she’s open to wherever her education takes her.

Aside from school and participating in HLA, Annie has a lot of interests that keep her busy, such as ceramics and color guard, which she hopes to join for the Kent State club team. She also has her sights set on the speech & debate team.

Annie applied to the Honors College because, like Renee, she has been in honors classes since high school. “In high school, it wasn't the course material that was better about the honors section, it was like the people [who] took the class because they wanted to take the class and they cared about [it],” she said.

Annie applied to be a member of HLA because she had been in several leadership positions since high school, such as being captain of the color guard team and a member of the design committee for the construction of her school.

“Maybe it's just how I built my personality or something, but I've always just [been a] natural leader,” Annie said.

Honors College Student Phoenix Allen sits on a rock outside.

Computer engineering major Phoenix Allen from Mentor, Ohio, arrived at Kent State as a freshman this fall with 17 college credits already completed. Aside from school, Allen enjoys playing golf, hockey and bowling, and he has his sights set on the High-Power Rocket Club.

Phoenix plans to declare a minor in computer science, as his dream career goal is to work for NASA. Phoenix said he has always had an interest in aerospace. 

“When I was a freshman going into high school, I knew I've always been really, really good with technology and how that's worked, and then I eventually… built my own desktop computer,” Phoenix said. “I got all the parts and ended up building it myself… and I was like, this is definitely something I want to pursue,” said the computer engineering major.

Early childhood education major and fellow HLA member Benny Miller from Wadsworth, Ohio, said he wants to be a fourth- or fifth-grade teacher.

Honors College Student Benny Miller sits near the water.

“I did some volunteer work with a church youth group and some sports camps for little kids, and I just really enjoyed it. I was like, maybe this is what I want to do,” the Honors College freshman said.

With hopes to be an elementary school teacher, Benny also pointed out the possibility of returning to school to receive higher education to become a principal or superintendent one day.

In his spare time, the early childhood education major enjoys playing video games, card games, basketball and spike ball, and he aims to join the Kent Men’s Lacrosse Club.

No matter the field of study or degree, the Honors College is delighted to welcome an array of new students with bright futures ahead of them. Dean Smith shared her enthusiasm for this large class. “We are excited to work with them and see all the great things they will do,” she said.

The Honors College has been enriching the lives of thousands of students since 1933 and now hails 11 Portz Scholars, as of 2023. The college is part of a long tradition of promoting academically motivated students with a unique academic experience. For more information about the Kent State University Honors College, please visit the Honors College website




PHOTO CAPTION 1: Honors College freshman class of 2027 poses for a class photo at the fall 2023 ice cream social.

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Honors College student Renee Ellis poses for a headshot.

PHOTO CAPTION 3: Honors College student Annie Wendt poses in her color guard uniform.

PHOTO CAPTION 4: Honors College student Phoenix Allen sits outside for a photo.

PHOTO CAPTION 5: Honors College student Benny Miller sits near the water.

Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal,, 330-672-2312

POSTED: Tuesday, September 26, 2023 02:30 PM
Updated: Friday, November 17, 2023 10:37 AM
Honors College Writing Intern Alyse Riffer