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Furman to offer summer Virtual Academy for high school students

Sign saying Shi Center for Sustainability
A sign outside the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, one of three institutes at Furman teaming up to host the Virtual Academy Certificate Program.

This summer, high school students across the country have the opportunity to participate in Furman University’s new Virtual Academy Certificate Program. Facilitated by Furman faculty and leading practitioners, the online program combines stimulating course work, project-based learning and professional development activities – all hallmarks of The Furman Advantage – to develop core skills that will deliver enhanced impact in the students’ college careers and communities. Upon completing the program, participants will earn a Certificate of Completion from Furman that they can include on their resumés and college applications.

Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship, explains that “the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated disruption and change in every industry. Now more than ever it’s imperative that students develop the skills necessary to drive innovation and be competitive for both college and the new workforce. This Virtual Academy is providing participants an opportunity to develop and refine those critical skills and explore a potential discipline of study prior to attending college.”

Hosted by the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health, Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, the Virtual Academy allows participants to choose to explore issues around community health, innovation and entrepreneurship or sustainability.

“Participants will experience college-level content and acquire an academic and professional skill set that will benefit them in college and beyond,” Susan Ybarra, director of operations for the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health, said.

In Week 1, participants will develop data analysis and interpretation skills needed to create innovative problem solutions and will practice communicating those solutions through effective presentations, a critical skill set in today’s environment. They will explore how to thrive in today’s team-based work environment that often engages in a virtual setting. And participants will receive coaching to prepare for the interview process.

In Week 2, the institutes will build upon what students learn in Week 1, directly applying the skill sets to an academic capstone project. Participants will split into one of the three academic track cohorts – community health, innovation and entrepreneurship or sustainability – and take a deeper dive into their field of interest.

“For example, students choosing to explore sustainability will take a holistic look at many of the sustainability challenges we face, from climate change to food security to renewable energy,” Wes Dripps, executive director of the Shi Institute, said.

The Virtual Academy will meet virtually on Zoom from 9 a.m. until noon, Monday through Friday, from July 13 to 24. The cost to participate in the two-week program is $1,195.

Applications will be accepted through June 30, and participants who submit applications before June 15 will receive a $200 discount.

For more information, please visit To contact a program director, please email

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