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Centenary College plans to take all freshmen to Paris

Kate Archer Kent

Incoming freshman class at Centenary College in Shreveport will begin their college career in Paris. The college has launched a new fall immersion program whereby every freshman can spend up to 10 days in Paris. The August 2014 course will begin and end on Centenary’s campus. The students will not be required to pay any additional fees or expenses for the trip. At a news conference Thursday, President David Rowe said he expects about 150 students will see the City of Light, and that experience will solidify their college career.

“The most important enrollment impact I think that this will have is in terms of retention. Students that have these types of high impact learning experiences early in their career tend to persist more toward graduation in four years than other students," Rowe said, following a presentation that included a video about Centenary's long history of sending students to France.

Centenary’s French professor Dana Kress appreciates that the college is strengthening ties to the French heritage in the state. Kress is the honorary consul of France for North Louisiana. He said about 12 professors are planning the Centenary In Paris curriculum, and they’ve been working with the French consulate. Kress is a bit wary, however, about taking so many new college students abroad at once.

“Taking a whole group of people to France is quite a challenge, but I think it will be a good challenge. And if they come from small communities, and haven’t had a chance to travel much, to begin their education by going to Paris is going to be quite a revolution inside them," Kress said.

By sending the entire freshman class overseas, Centenary believes its program is the first of its kind nationwide. Rowe said the Centenary in Paris course is not required to graduate.