Among the senior superlatives bestowed on Emma Dalton ’26 before she graduated from Halifax County High School with a 4.0-grade point average was “most likely to change the world.” The first stop on her journey to accomplish that is Longwood University and Farmville.
“My plan to change the world is through becoming a speech-language pathologist at the K-12 level,” said Dalton, who is majoring in communication sciences and disorders. “I believe that everyone deserves a chance to succeed and be given the same chance as anyone else no matter what impediment might stand in their way.”
I believe that everyone deserves a chance to succeed and be given the same chance as anyone else no matter what impediment might stand in their way.Emma Dalton ’26 Tweet This
This fall Dalton will arrive on campus as part of the Class of 2026—which is among the most talented, academically gifted and diverse in university history. Including transfers, Longwood will welcome nearly 1,000 new students to campus next month.
The incoming freshman class paints an impressive picture academically, with 61 percent having a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Twenty-eight percent of the students are Black, Indigenous or people of color, an increase from 25 percent in the previous two classes.
“We so much enjoyed getting to know our incoming students as they went through the admissions process this last year,” said Emily Heady, former assistant vice president for admissions and retention who oversaw recruitment of the incoming class. “Longwood is ready to welcome an energetic, smart and engaged group in August. They’re great students—and great people—and we can tell that they are ready to make Farmville home.”
Dalton, who was SCA president at her high school and captain of the cheerleading squad, said she was drawn to Longwood because of its location and size.
“The campus is beautiful, and it’s close to my hometown,” she said. “I also really like how the classes are smaller compared with other universities.”
Dalton began dancing at age 3, and she has performed in a Walt Disney World parade, on a Broadway stage in New York and at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Her favorite type of dance is clogging.
Members of the Class of 2026 have a wide variety of hobbies and skills. Some already own their own businesses. There’s a Grammy-nominated artist, a self-taught juggler and an Irish-dance teacher.
One of my teachers took me on a tour of Longwood, and it felt like home when I stepped on the campus.Savannah Bartlett ’26 Tweet This
Savannah Bartlett ’26 is a black belt in self-defense, a red belt in Taekwondo and she’s been nominated for a Stellar Gospel Music Award. Her EP “I Got It” is currently available on all major streaming platforms. Bartlett, who was salutatorian of her class at Varina High School in Henrico, plans to major in communication studies with a concentration in digital media. She was the official school photographer in high school and also owns a photography business. She aspires to launch a career as a photographer after graduating from college.
“I am most excited about being independent and away from home for the first time,” Bartlett said. “I am also looking forward to furthering my passion for communications and digital media in Longwood’s awesome program. In my freshman year [of high school], one of my teachers took me on a tour of Longwood, and it felt like home when I stepped on the campus.”
Bartlett and Dalton will also be members of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars, which is set to welcome 220 freshmen this fall—by far its largest class ever. The CHC is welcoming an additional 30 transfer students as well.
What stood out for me with this class was how much the students were interested in the deeper meaning and purpose of their education.Dr. Chris Kukk, the Wilma Register Sharp and Marc Boyd Sharp Dean of the Honors College Tweet This
“What stood out for me with this class was how much the students were interested in the deeper meaning and purpose of their education,” said Dr. Chris Kukk, the Wilma Register Sharp and Marc Boyd Sharp Dean of the Honors College. “We have students who volunteer at food banks, work for animal adoption agencies and are EMTs. These are students who really care and have compassion for the communities around them. They are looking for a place where that type of compassion isn’t just words on a paper. With Civitae, that type of thinking is woven into the curriculum.”
The Honors College incoming class includes Kukk’s son, Cade Kukk ’26, who has chosen Longwood’s new exploratory studies major, which will allow him to take a variety of computer science, physics and math classes while he decides which academic major to pursue.
Overall, this year’s incoming CHC scholars have an average GPA of 4.06. Dr. Kukk said he was proud and gratified that the class is so large, diverse and talented, especially given that many other honors colleges have seen their numbers decrease. Civitae, Longwood’s innovative curriculum, is among the factors helping to draw such a robust class.
“It goes to our mission of citizen leadership and how it resonates,” Kukk said.
I am excited about meeting new people and getting to know the Farmville area.Luke Clemmer ’26 Tweet This
Several academic programs will see a significant increase in numbers of incoming freshmen this fall, including the secondary education fields, the arts and humanities fields, nursing, graphic and animation design, criminology, environmental science and biology. The incoming freshman class has at least 67 biology majors, a significant increase from the 28 declared incoming freshmen in the Class of 2025. Some of the growth in the major can be attributed to the launch of Longwood’s new pre-med concentration.
Lailah Miller ’26 is one of the incoming freshmen planning to major in biology with a pre-med concentration. The Gretna, Virginia, native plans to become a nurse practitioner because she wants to make people feel better, she said.
“I’m excited about college because I’m starting a new chapter, and I know it’s going to be good,” she said.
Like Miller, Luke Clemmer ’26, also plans to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner or as a nurse anesthetist. Clemmer, who was valedictorian of his Orange County High School class, is majoring in nursing and plans to bring his bike with him to campus so he can continue one of his favorite activities: mountain biking and exploring.
“I chose Longwood because of the nursing program and the Cormier Honors College,” he said. “From my first visit, it felt like a place I could call home. I am excited about meeting new people and getting to know the Farmville area.”