The game-changing influence of the Williams Honors College


University of Akron students Jason and Jordan Penn.

University of Akron twin students Jason (left) and Jordan Penn are Honors Scholars in the Williams Honors College.

Meet Jason and Jordan Penn, identical twins from Columbus, Ohio, who have turned their experience at The University of Akron (UA) into a remarkable journey of growth, success and setting—and achieving—limitless personal goals.

Both brothers, now seniors, are deeply involved in campus life as active contributors to the University experience in numerous organizations and as Honors Scholars in the Drs. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Honors College. They’re even working toward matching degrees — Bachelor of Science in Sport Studies in UA’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

"Being an Honors Scholar has been one of the biggest influences in my college journey, and my academic excellence has constantly been rewarded,” said Jason. “It has been nothing but a memorable experience — trips abroad, future spring break trips to New York, seeing ‘The Wiz’ musical in Cleveland, going to professional sporting events and more.”

Among their involvement outside of the Honors College (Dean's Team and Civics Club), Jason and Jordan are on Dean's Teams for the other colleges they represent, including the College of Business, and are members of the Sports and Analytics Business Association, the Student African American Brotherhood, the Collegiate 100 of Black Men and the African American Business Association, among other things.

"Just the Honors College has changed the way I have gone about college," Jordan said. “I do more vigorous work, more critical thinking, but more importantly, I have more opportunities in and out of the classroom. There’s an indescribable excitement about it.”

Honors has its perks

All Honors students like Jordan and Jason get to benefit from exclusive academic benefits. The Honors Distribution program requires students to complete courses in several disciplines; likewise, the College’s Honors Colloquia courses bring together honors students from various majors to discuss timely topics in the sciences and humanities to prepares its graduates for careers anywhere in the world.

More so, Honors students are not required to take some of the general education classes as other students, offering them opportunities to further explore their interests.

Students also choose and create a capstone Honors Research Project. Jason has proposed investigating the impact of dietary interventions on athletic performance while exploring whether strategic dietary plans can elevate an average athlete to elite status, emphasizing the exercise science aspect within his sport studies degree.

Passion meets possibility

The brothers’ deep involvement in the campus experience has opened doors to networks that extend far beyond the classroom, showcasing the possibilities that UA provides. For the Penn brothers, being an Honors Scholar is more than a title — it's an elevation to limitless possibilities.

“If executed the right way, and you are goal-driven, the Honors College is the place to jumpstart your career,” said Jordan. “You encounter diverse people and places that lead you to your next opportunity. It has enabled me to gain experiences I didn’t think I would necessarily have, and it has helped me build connections and create friendships with my professors and classmates.”

As these remarkable twins look towards graduation, their futures shine brightly. Jordan envisions a path that includes professional football, running his own brand and more, leaving no room for limitations. Jason dreams of conquering the NFL, coaching, teaching and being a multi-business owner.

“I can truly say that connecting to the right people on campus through all my avenues of involvement has allowed me to learn from any college at this University,” said Jason. “People like Dean R.J. Nemer in the College of Business or the Dean of the Williams Honors College, Dr. Fedearia Nicholson-Sweval, have ensured that my experience has been enhanced on campus as well as off-campus, providing many opportunities to grow.”

Finding opportunity and, likewise, success for the Penn brothers underscores how passion can meet possibility at UA. Being Honors Scholars isn't just a stop on their academic journey; it's a transformative adventure that has allowed them to be more than their shared sport studies major.

“I have a lot of plans for after graduation from UA,” said Jason. “Faithfully, I will achieve everything that I set out to do.”

Media contact: Cristine Boyd, 330-972-6476 or