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The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy is an early college entrance program at the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center. Since 1999, we have provided an opportunity for high school students who are academically gifted to skip their final years of high school and head straight to college. We offer an enriched academic and social community for young students as they transition to university life.  Get to know our students: https://academyatiowa.org/videos/

THE BUCKSBAUM EARLY ENTRANCE ACADEMY RETURNS TO DES MOINES

By Rachel Farrier, Katie Garber, Madi Huffmann, Shayla Ides, Collen Mahoney, William Mitchell, Keishanique Moton-Tyler, Andrew Shearer, Kelsey Vandenberg, and Andrew VanNice

It is fast becoming a tradition to bring the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy’s incoming class to Des Moines, Iowa to explore the city and learn the history of the Belin-Blank Center founders.  The field trip is also an opportunity to continue building a sense of community among the students.  The following are a few student reflections on the experience:

We began our day at the Des Moines Botanical Garden.  The deep roots of the Belin-Blank Center and the Bucksbaum Academy benefactors were evident.  The wide variety of plants from around the world also brought into perspective what the academy is all about. Much like these plants, we all come from different backgrounds.  But with the generosity of these paragons of kindness, we will blossom together.

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BUCKSBAUM EARLY ENTRANCE ACADEMY WELCOMES SECOND CLASS

On Sunday, August 13, 2017, the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy welcomed its second class. The students consist of Rachel Farrier, Katie Garber, Madi Huffmann, Shayla Ides, Collen Mahoney, William Mitchell, Keishanique Moton-Tyler, Andrew Shearer, Kelsey Vandenberg, and Andrew VanNice. Accompanied by their families, the students dined at One Twenty Six, and were greeted by Belin-Blank Center Director, Dr. Susan Assouline, Assistant Director, Student Services, Jan Warren, Administrator, Bucksbaum Academy, David Gould, Counseling Psychology Doctoral Student, Alyssa Zwicker, and Honors Program Director, Dr. Art Spisak.

The keynote presentation was given by Julia Zalenski, J.D., a 2010 graduate of the University of Iowa, and an early entrance student herself. The following are Ms. Zalenski’s inspiring remarks to the incoming class:

I am so pleased to be here to help welcome all of you to Iowa City, the University of Iowa, and this wonderful program. The Belin-Blank Center’s programs have been important to me for many years, and I would just like to take a moment to recognize the faculty, staff, grad students, and everyone else whose hard work and dedication make them possible.

I came to the University of Iowa when I was 17, and in the grand and venerable tradition of teenagers everywhere, I thought I knew a lot more than I actually did. I knew that I had wanted to do something else, anything but more high school, and had grabbed on to this program with both hands. In my application I probably talked about seeking new challenges, but what those challenges were I could only have imagined. They felt elusive, like what I was looking for was just out of sight, and if I kept moving forward as fast as I could, I had to catch up eventually.

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The Academy’s First Class Marks a Successful Academic Year

On May 1, 2017, the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy’s inaugural class gathered to celebrate the successful completion of their first year at the University of Iowa.  The afternoon was filled with reflections, peer tributes, dessert trays, and a few surprises.

Susan Assouline, director of the Belin-Blank Center, Jan Warren, Assistant Director for Student Services, David Gould, Administrator, Bucksbaum Academy, and Kristin Wurster, Graduate Assistant, reminisced about what this group of students has meant to them.  While acknowledging the students’ academic achievements, an emphasis was placed on highlighting their generous and kindhearted nature.  Dr. Assouline also made a special point of challenging the group to continue looking for ways to direct their gifts toward the service of others.

Building a sense of community has been a focal point of the students’ first year experience.  In that spirit, the students concluded the semester by sharing some memories of their own.  Taking turns, each student focused on one of his or her peers.  Filled with appreciation, praise, and a bit of humor, it was evident just how close this class has become.

The gathering concluded with a few surprises.  Each student received a portfolio filled with remembrances from the year, along with a “Baum Squad” t-shirt.  (The “Baum Squad” was a nickname the students began calling themselves last fall.)  And finally, Dr. Assouline and Jan Warren unveiled a class photo of the students that will hang in the Belin Blank Center.  At the bottom of the frame is the mission statement the students wrote on their first day.

THE TOPICS OF EMPATHY AND HUMILITY ROUND OUT THE ACADEMY’S 2016-2017 SALON SERIES

April 3, 2017

By Brady Farmer, Kolten Hagens, Austin Henderson, Phuc Lee, Max Salinger, Henry Sharpe, Devyn Stewart, Ava Stipanovich, Juan Tello, and Bryanna Thumma

This fall, the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center welcomed its first class of Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy students.   The long-term development and success of these students is very important to the Center, and toward that end, we have designed a series of salons around meaningful subjects like noble failure, wonder, and empathy/humility.  These conversations take place around a dinner table and include perspectives from our University and Iowa City communities.

Our final salon of the academic year took place on the 8th floor of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), and focused on the topics of “empathy” and “humility.”  The Academy students were again paired with guests from the University and Iowa City communities, and everyone was asked to share a time when they had experienced an unexpected act of compassion. 

Bri & Emily

Child life specialists Emily Mozena and Bri Swope share their story with the students.

The gathering also heard from child life specialists Emily Mozena and Bri Swope.  Child life specialists help children and their families navigate the emotionally and physically demanding process of coping with illness, injury, disability, trauma and hospitalization.  Emily and Bri shared how this experience has impacted their lives, and encouraged the students to expand their own understanding of the challenges people face. 

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Wonder Becomes the Second Topic for the Academy’s Salon Series

February 28, 2017

By Brady Farmer, Austin Henderson, Phuc Lee, Max Salinger, Henry Sharpe, Devyn Stewart, Ava Stipanovich, Juan Tello, and Bryanna Thumma

This fall, the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center welcomed its first class of Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy students.   The long-term development and success of these students is very important to the Center, and toward that end, we have designed a series of salons around meaningful subjects like noble failure, wonder, and humility.  These conversations take place around a dinner table and include perspectives from our University and Iowa City communities.

Our second salon was held on the stage of the Riverside Theater.  The topic was “wonder,” with each student being paired with an invited guest.  Students and guests alike brought an artifact that represented wonder to them.  At the end of the night, each group shared a word that represented their conversation.  The words were gathered and spontaneously turned into a song by local blues artist, Kevin “B.F.” Burt.  It was a wondrous evening indeed.

Chris Cheatum, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry (guest)

Juan Tello listens intently to Dr. Chris Cheatum.

At the second salon, I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Chris Cheatum.  Dr. Cheatum is an amazing chemistry professor and researcher whose current research interests involve using lasers to study movement of protons.  Dr. Cheatum and I talked about several topics including miracles, our pasts, and our current lives.  He also brought a leaf to demonstrate his idea that life as a process is a beautiful miracle.  Dr. Cheatum mentioned how “miracle” is a term we use when describing things we don’t understand.  When we find out how something works we tend not to appreciate it anymore.  He said things like leaves and life are miracles and we must value them. I had so much fun at this salon and really enjoyed spending time with Dr. Cheatum.  (Juan Tello, student)

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The Academy Celebrates a Great Fall Semester

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy students celebrated completing their first semester in college with hot chocolate, holiday cookies, and a Netflix fireplace.  They also shared their best college memory to date, and reminisced over a late night gathering that bonded them together.

Belin-Blank Executive Director, Susan Assouline, Assistant Director of Student Services, Jan Warren, Administrator of Bucksbaum Academy, David Gould, Graduate Assistant, Kristin Wurster, and Kristin’s infant daughter, Ellen, joined the students.  Susan, Jan, David, and Kristin each shared a favorite recollection as well, which ranged from the welcome dinner – to how well the students had represented the Center at the November salon.

The students were given Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates’ book, Between the World and Me, to read over winter break.

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The Academy Hosts Its First Salon On Noble Failure

By Brady Farmer, Kolten Hagens, Austin Henderson, Phuc Lee, Max Salinger, Henry Sharpe, Devyn Stewart, Ava Stipanovich, Juan Tello, and Bryanna Thumma

This fall, the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center welcomed its first class of Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy students.   The long-term development and success of these students is very important to the Center, and toward that end, we have designed a series of salons around meaningful subjects like noble failure, wonder, and humility.  These conversations take place around a dinner table and include perspectives from our University and Iowa City communities.  

Our first salon took place on Monday (11/7), 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm, in the North Room of the Iowa Memorial Union.  The topic was noble failure, with each student being paired with an invited guest. The following are a few student reflections on what they learned:

Joe Sulentic, (lecturer, Tippie College of Business)joe-devyn-salon-1

The wonderful person I had the pleasure of conversing with was Joe Sulentic. He is a businessman and professor, and his life experiences all had a type of common theme. Throughout his life of traveling the world, racing cars, and doing business, he never failed to seize an opportunity. He would talk about his failures as if they were the best things to ever happen to him. He said that attending UCLA after failing to get accepted to any Ivy League schools made him into the man that he is today, and the rest of his stories followed suit. He talked about how much he loved racing cars in Italy after being denied a trip to Germany. And he talked about how many times in his life he had no idea how to keep moving forward and always managed to be better off than he was before. All in all, Joe sure knew how to make the best of a bad situation.

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