Local high schools see 18 selected for Governor’s Scholars Program

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By Kacie Goode

Eighteen students will represent Nelson County’s four main high schools this year for the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program, a summer residential program for students preparing to enter their senior year. Those who have previously taken part say the program is helpful in preparing for higher education.


“It really made me see what I am going to need for college and how it is going to be,” said Caitlin Fox, a new graduate who represented Nelson County High School in the program last year.

Fox, who will study nursing this fall at Eastern Kentucky University, said the GSP students stayed in dorms, attended classes, seminars and campus activities, and lived like college students for the five-week program. During the 2017 session, Fox visited Morehead State University and said the experience was scary at first because she had never really been away from home.

“I didn’t know my roommates and had a lot of nerves going into it, but it took like a week for me to adjust,” she said. “It helped knowing everybody was going through the exact same thing as I was.”

The experience, she said, ended up being “the best time I ever had in my life,” and she has stayed in touch with several friends she made through the program.

GSP was established in 1983 to provide students with a full co-curricular and residential life experience on college campuses, promoting higher education opportunities in Kentucky. To be selected, students must first be nominated by their school and then complete an application and compete with others from across the state. Those who are chosen participate in the program free of charge.

Completing the application was the most challenging part, Fox said, and in addition to showcasing academic excellence, students must also demonstrate community involvement, service and volunteerism.

“Make sure you put everything you’ve done in high school,” Fox said to future applicants. “I’ve been in different clubs for community service since I was a freshman, like Pep Club, Beta Club, Key Club,” and others. Club involvement helps, but it’s important to also do community service on your own, she said, such as visiting nursing homes or volunteering at the Humane Society.

Morehead State University, Murray State University and Northern Kentucky University are once again the host campuses for this year’s program, and scholars have chosen from 24 focus areas for courses, such as architectural design, forensic science, healthcare and visual arts.

Each student will attend the program for five weeks, with three sessions being held between June 17 and July 28. Fox’s advice to this year’s batch of scholars is to “Make every single minute count and make as many friends as you can,” she said. “Do everything you can and have as much fun as you can.”

The 2018 Governor’s Scholars Program participants for Nelson County are:

Nelson County High School

• Justin Gagne, son of Mary and Scott Gagne, will be studying psychology and human behaviors at NKU

• Larkin Williams, son of Ann Marie and David Williams, will be studying business, accounting and entrepreneurship at Morehead.

Bardstown High School

• Jack Downs, son of Tina Wright Downs and the late Woodrow “Woody” Downs, will be studying dramatic expression at Murray.

• Lily King, daughter of Chris King and Christy Bradford, will be studying communications and social theory at NKU.

• Tristan Boggs, son of Aaron and Shawn Boggs, will be studying music theory and performance at Morehead.

Bethlehem High School

• John Simms, son of Chuck and Concy Simms, will be studying historical analysis at NKU.

• Gracie Avery, daughter of Stacie Provine, will be studying communications and social theory at NKU.

• Luke Clements, son of Brian and Allison Clements, will be studying cultural anthropology at Morehead.

• Lauren Lee, daughter of John and Beverly Lee, will be studying philosophy at Murray.

• Jordan Cross, daughter of Allen and Jeri Cross, will be studying healthcare at NKU.

Thomas Nelson High School

• Mia Pardieu, daughter of Anne Margaret and Buzzy Pardieu, will be studying music theory and performance at Morehead.

• Amelia Watkins, daughter of Steve and Jeannie Watkins, will be studying forensic science at Murray.

• Lily Ramsey, daughter of John Mike and Stephanie Ramsey, will be studying dramatic expression at NKU.

• Emily Snellen, daughter of Vernie and Anne Snellen, will be studying international relations at Morehead.

• Elizabeth Van Tyle-Marksbury, daughter of Heidi and Greg Marksbury, will be studying cultural anthropology at Morehead.

• Sabastion Downs, son of Mary and Travis Downs, will be studying forensic science at NKU.

• Kaitlyn Burba, daughter of Thomas and Jennifer Burba, will be studying astronomy at Murray.

• Garrett Hall, son of Gina and Matthew Hall, will be studying at NKU. Focus areas to be determined.

• Alternate is Madeline Byrd

More information about the Governor’s Scholars Program can be found at gsp.ky.gov.