Top 20 Stories of 2020

The Rollins stories you loved most this year—one more time.

From activating civic engagement on campus to engaging in issues of equality and social justice to learning how to combat a global pandemic in real time, explore the most-viewed Rollins stories of 2020.

Photo by Scott Cook

1. Cool Class: Sustainability Beyond the Classroom

In this series of linked environmental studies courses, Rollins students explore sustainability issues right at the source through an immersive experience combining classroom instruction with project-based learning and ongoing field studies everywhere from Florida to California.

2. Summer, Shared

This past summer may have looked different from years past, but Tars faced the challenging circumstances head-on as global citizens and responsible leaders. From creating on-the-fly marketing strategies for newly launched PPE companies to analyzing proposed legislation on Capitol Hill, delve into some of our favorite student stories from summer 2020.

Photo by Scott Cook

3. Center of It All

In January, Rollins officially opened Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, ushering in a new era of applied liberal arts learning at the College. Strategically co-located in this new state-of-the-art space are 10 programs central to the Rollins mission, equipping students with the experiential and relational learning opportunities necessary to gain a competitive advantage in the real world.

4. 15 Epic Outdoor Study Spots at Rollins

On America’s most beautiful campus, we’ve pretty much cornered the market on awesome alfresco spaces, where opportunities for socially distanced living and learning are as prolific as our sunny days. From poolside decks and lakefront gazebos to sprawling lawns and our very own beach, here are our favorite outdoor spots to hit the books.

5. Rollins Ranked No. 1 Regional University in the South

Rollins was once again ranked the No. 1 regional university in the South in the 2021 rankings of “Best Colleges” released by U.S. News & World Report. For more than 25 years, the College has been ranked among the top two regional universities in the South and has been the top-ranked Florida school in the category.

Photo by Scott Cook

6. My Rollins Gateway: Lucas Hernandez ’13

Lucas Hernandez ’13 is helping solve his hometown’s toughest challenges as Microsoft’s director of civic engagement in Miami. From recognizing the changemaking potential of public policy to experiencing firsthand the power of grassroots community development, explore some of the pivotal waypoints on his personal pathway through Rollins.

7. Wild Wonders

This past fall, a group of 13 Tars worked alongside local environmental organizations in the Everglades and learned about the challenges of this unparallelled ecosystem. Discover how service and adventure converged on this Immersion experience, where hands-on learning led to lasting impact.

8. 9 Reasons Rollins Delivers the Best in Study Abroad

This year, the College once again ranked among the top 10 institutions nationwide for the percentage of students who study abroad. Whether it’s a semester living and learning in Australia or two weeks building an ecolodge in Tanzania, Tars harness opportunities near and far to put what they’re learning at Rollins to work in the world. 

9. Topical Teaching

Just as campus was moving to virtual learning in March, eight faculty teamed up to create an interdisciplinary course to tackle the uniquely 21st-century problem of the global pandemic. In Understanding COVID-19, students learned about the coronavirus in real time through multiple lenses, from business and biology to anthropology and global health.

10. The Perfect Blend

At Rollins, Jakobi Bonner ’20 ’21MBA—captain of the men’s basketball team, resident assistant, student in the 3/2 Accelerated Management Program—has discovered he’s a leader both on and off the court. Bonner is one of many student-athletes who continue to earn Rollins recognition from the NCAA as one of the nation’s best colleges at blending athletic and academic excellence.

11. 2020-21 Fulbright Scholars

A quartet of global ambassadors from the Class of 2020 carry forward Rollins’ long legacy of Fulbright Scholars. Isabella Braga ’20, Kenzie Helmick ’20, Mirabella Kirk ’20, and Shannon Sullivan ’20 reflect on how Rollins prepared them for this remarkable achievement and eye what’s next in their meaningful lives and productive careers.

12. My Rollins Gateway: Brandon McNichol ’18

At Rollins, Presidential Scholar Brandon McNichol ’18 discovered a harmonious interplay of science and art—one that has proven instrumental in his plans to practice medicine. Explore McNichol’s personalized pathway through Rollins that has set him up to fulfill his dream of helping others.

13. A Rollins Year in Photos

Experience a year at Rollins through photographer Scott Cook’s most memorable images from the 2019-20 academic year. From the opening of Kathleen W. Rollins Hall to the creation of virtual learning environments, we reflect on all the ways Rollins has delivered on its mission and has risen to the challenges before us.

14. What It’s Like … to Debate a Defining Moment in History

As a half African-American, half Puerto Rican woman pursuing a career in law, English major and Rollins debater Gabby Shepherd ’22 shares what it was like to lend her voice to the complex fight for equality and justice.

15. 19 Reasons Rollins is America’s Most Beautiful Campus

Rollins is continually named one of the country’s best college campuses for everything from our lakeside location to our timeless architecture. Explore 19 of our favorite ways the beauty of America’s most beautiful campus runs deep.

16. View from the Top

Honored for their commitment to academic excellence, leadership, and service, Rollins’ six 2020 valedictorians—an impressive cadre of aspiring physicists, professors, anthropologists, diplomats, executives, and art historians—look back on their time at Rollins and look forward to the future.

17. His Goodness Goes Viral

On the one-year anniversary of the passing of beloved campus icon Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rollins’ 12th president, we declared February 17 as Thaddeus and Polly Seymour Acts of Kindness Day. To mark the occasion, some of those who knew him best share the moments they hold most dear.

18. Together in Discovery

Both in person and virtually this past summer, Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program produced some of its most powerful partnerships to date, showcasing the innovative ways our students and faculty are tackling real-world, relevant issues.

19. Gateway to Greatness

Rollins’ third cohort of Gateway Fellows defied all odds this past summer in the face of extraordinary challenges, gaining invaluable hands-on internship experiences and learning what it takes to effect change in organizations and companies at the forefront of their industries.

20. Club Spotlight: The Democracy Project

As we faced a historic election in November, we took a deep dive into the work of the student-run, nonpartisan Democracy Project. Explore how this student organization brings Tars together to activate civic engagement as a fundamental force for the future.