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Local students participate in GSP program

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By The Staff

Four Marion County students joined more than 1,000 students from across the state to participate in Kentucky's Governor's Scholars Program this summer. The students spent five weeks on a college campus during the program, which this year was held at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Morehead State University in Morehead and Centre College in Danville.

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"The Governor's Scholars Program is an outstanding educational experience for Kentucky and one I'm proud to say both of my sons had the opportunity to enjoy," Governor Beshear said. "My congratulations to those young Kentuckians who had the great opportunity to share in this exciting program."

The program, which was established in 1983, exposes students to strong liberal arts studies with a real "college life" experience. In order to qualify, students must complete an application and compete with others from across the state. A statewide selection committee chose the participants for the nationally recognized program from nominations submitted from each Kentucky school district. Selection criteria included academic records and test scores, teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities and essays. Those selected attend the program free of charge.

The following students were asked to reflect on their GSP experience. Below are their responses.

Grant Avritt

Grant Avritt attended Centre College this summer during the GSP program. He is the son of Jim and Mitzi Avritt.

• What exactly did you study and why did you study that particular subject?

My major area was Philosophy with John Wilcox. I doubt I would've chosen another major even if I could. The class taught me to expand my thinking patterns and forced me to defend my beliefs, and realize just why I believed them. On the other hand, the class promoted the changing of your views if you chose to be open enough for that. Overall, the class informed me on the theories of many famous philosophers, helping me to find which philosophers my views aligned with, which is more than I ever hoped for out of the class.

• What did you enjoy most about your experience?

What I enjoyed most was certainly the constant interaction with other intellectuals. There was always a Euchre game, a game of kickball, or some ultimate football going on. If no card game or sport suited me on a particular day, there were always a few other scholars sitting around ready for a conversation. The friends I met in this way will remain with me for years to come. Finally, one of the most enjoyable experiences of the whole camp was learning to racquetball, which I did on a daily basis, and am now convinced is the most entertaining sport I've ever played.

• What are some of the most important things that you learned?

In addition to learning the games that made Governor's Scholar fun, like Spades, Euchre, Diplomacy, and Racquetball, I also learned the beliefs and customs of others who came from different ethnic backgrounds and different religions. I met Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and people from many other religions who I would never have been exposed to at home.

• How did your experience influence your thoughts about college?

Governor's Scholars, perhaps inadvertently, taught me to broaden my thoughts on college. When I heard everyone there talking about applying to many different schools, both in and out of state, it truly made me realize what opportunities were open to me. For that reason, I'll be applying to more and different colleges than I was before GSP started.

• Would you encourage other students to participate in Governor's Scholars?

I would definitely encourage any student who is interested in becoming more educated, broadening their views on life in general, and of course earning what is essentially free college, to apply to GSP. Its a phenomenal experience that I wish everyone could go through, even though I know that's not possible. Also, I advise kids to start keeping track of their community service as early as possible; it'll certainly help down the road.

• What are your future plans?

My future plans include applying to around 4 or 5 colleges {Harvard, Vanderbilt, and Centre being certain at this point, the other(s) being arbitrary} and majoring in pre-med wherever I go, eventually going to Medical school and becoming some form of physician.

Julia Suzanne Jenkins

Julia Jenkins attended Morehead State University this summer during the GSP program. She is the daughter of Doug and Janet Jenkins.

• What exactly did you study and why did you study that particular subject?

I chose to study visual arts, which was more like computer-based graphic design at Morehead because I enjoy art projects.

• What did you enjoy most about your experience?

The most enjoyable part of GSP was the interaction with all of the other intelligent high school students from across Kentucky and gaining new, interesting friends.

• What are some of the most important things that you learned?

I learned that it is more enjoyable to learn in a non-competitive atmosphere, unlike the one at high school.

• How did your experience influence your thoughts about college?

GSP encouraged me to seek college acceptance in-state with all of the scholarships it offers to the scholars.

• Would you encourage other students to participate in Governor's Scholars?

Yes. GSP is a wonderful opportunity to gain experiences and meet people that would otherwise be unavailable.

• What are your future plans?

I plan to attend either UK of U of L in the fall of 2010, major in biology, and go on to medical school.

Hannah O'Daniel

Hannah O'Daniel attended Centre College this summer during the GSP program. She is the daughter of Mitchell and Karen O'Daniel.

• What exactly did you study and why did you study that particular subject?

I studied Cultural Anthropology, which involved looking at different cultures around the world and analyzing why and how that culture has shaped the actions and beliefs of the people in that area.  I wanted to study Cultural Anthropology because I find cultures that differ from my own intriguing, and wanted to learn more about the various cultures around the world.

• What did you enjoy most about your experience?

Although there were a lot of enjoyable things about my GSP experience, I'd have to say that meeting and getting close to such a diverse group of people was my favorite.

• What are some of the most important things that you learned?

I think one of the most important things that I learned from this experience is that it's crucial in college to find a healthy balance between time spent studying and time spent just relaxing and socializing with others, so as to get the complete college experience.  If you spend you're entire college career locking yourself in your dorm room after class, you'll miss out on meeting and growing close to amazing people that could've become lifelong friends.  On the other hand, if you spend more time just having fun and neglect the academic aspect of college, your grades and future are likely to suffer. 

• How did your experience influence your thoughts about college?

Walking around campus and taking classes in a college setting caused me to think a lot about what I wanted in a college, and the impact that the college I go to will have on my future.  Before this summer, I had been nervous about the idea of graduating from high school and leaving the county that I grew up in to go off to a college where I would know very few if any people.  But because of the experience I was lucky enough to have, I'm much less intimidated by this idea, and am even looking forward to college next fall.

• Would you encourage other students to participate in Governor's Scholars?

I would most definitely encourage other students to participate in Governor's Scholars - it's a truly unique program that you will never forget.

• What are your future plans?

In the future, I plan to attend an instate college to study to become either a Social Studies or English teacher at the high school level.

Madeline Peterson

Madeline Peterson attended Bellarmine University during the GSP program. She is the daughter of Sandy and David Peterson of Loretto.

• What exactly did you study and why did you study that particular subject?

At GSP my focus area was film studies. I didn't really know anything about film-making or even want to be a director, but I thought the class sounded like a lot of fun - something different that I had never tried before!

• What did you enjoy most about your experience?

There really was no one single experience that I enjoyed most, because the entire summer was incredible! We had regular field trips to museums (such as 21 C, the Speed Art Museum, the Ali Center, and the Louisville Slugger Museum), we had an arts day (and I tie-dyed my shoes!) and so many other neat activities. Every day was different and interesting in some way or another.

• What are some of the most important things that you learned?

I learned so many things at GSP, but I suppose the most important thing I discovered would be to always keep an open mind when meeting new people. Just because someone is quiet or shy in class doesn't mean they don't have important things to say or insightful views.

• How did your experience influence your thoughts about college?

I'm definitely more excited for college after GSP! I loved having the freedom to go anywhere I wanted, whenever I wanted and I gained such a sense of independence afterward. I feel very self-assured now that I could go to a college without knowing a single person and make many new friends, because that's what I did at GSP and our community became so close.

• Would you encourage other students to participate in Governor's Scholars?

I would encourage EVERYONE to go to GSP! It was easily the best summer of my life, and even now, back home, I really miss the campus and all my friends. I met so many unique people at GSP, and all my friends were so different! I had a friend from Ethiopia, India, and Bosnia! It was wonderful!

• What are your future plans?

I'm not sure where I'll go to college, but right now I'm considering UK or U of L. I also don't really know what I want to major in either, but I would love to be an art director for a company one day.