FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2022) — In its 40th year, 1,051 outstanding Kentucky seniors representing 119 counties completed the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP) this summer. The residential program focuses on enhancing Kentucky’s next generation of civic and economic leaders through educational and career opportunities.
Fellow scholar Gov. Andy Beshear, a GSP alumnus from 1995, congratulated the scholars on their achievements, encouraged them to continue their path to success and leadership and answered many questions about his own trajectory, as well as the paths that lay ahead for the young leaders.
“As a proud Governor’s Scholar alumnus, I always encourage high school students to take advantage of this tremendous summer program to stretch themselves academically, socially and personally and get a taste of college life by living on campus,” said Gov. Beshear. “The benefits of GSP go well beyond the summer program and makes a positive impact throughout their careers and lives.”
This year, GSP, within the Education and Labor Cabinet, returned for the second year in a row to an in-person five-week residential summer program at three college campuses while still complying with public health guidelines because of COVID-19. The program, available at no cost to eligible students, began at Centre College on June 19, later adding Morehead State University and Bellarmine University.
Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, who attended one of the closing ceremonies this year, said “As an educator who has had students go through the Governor’s Scholars Program, I am always uplifted when I see the excitement and growth of the students. The experience makes a lasting impression upon the students and often helps them discover more about themselves and what they want to do in life.”
The 2022 Governor’s Scholars took classes ranging from physical science and forensics to cultural anthropology, journalism and mass media. They also attended general studies classes to balance the scientific and humanistic fields of study, as well as a seminar on themes related to their age group.
The year was a milestone to honor the legacy of Lil Press, the first executive director and founding mother who passed away during the pandemic. Lil was obviously the mastermind behind the creation of the program; however, her true legacy is the conception of the philosophy that supports the mission and vision of the program – the creation of a community of learners, said Aristofanes Cedeño, Ph.D., executive director and academic dean of GSP.
“That concept of community still permeates the magic that takes place every summer in the Governor’s Scholars Program,” Cedeño said.
To participate in the extremely competitive program, a statewide selection committee chose well-rounded participants based upon nominations submitted by each Kentucky school district and home schools. Selection criteria is based upon academic records and test scores, teacher and community recommendations, extracurricular and service activities, honors and awards, and a writing entry.
“The Governor’s Scholars Program has helped me redefine who I am by diving deep into my own feelings and opinions. It truly has taught me the importance of Kentucky by building connections with other leaders all over the state,” said 2022 Governor’s Scholar Luke Barrow from Frederick Douglass High School.
When GSP began in 1983, Kentucky leaders wanted to encourage high-achieving Kentucky seniors to go to a Kentucky college or university and stay in the state to reduce “brain drain” from the state. According to the most recent data, nearly 80% of 2019 scholars chose to pursue higher education in Kentucky in the fall of 2020.
2022 Governor’s Scholar Haylea Brock from North Laurel High School said, “When I applied to GSP, I viewed it in an objective light. It was a way to simply build my resume and provide myself with the experience. The idea of a life-changing summer program seemed far from reality. Yet, over the course of five weeks, I’ve come to understand just how wrong that mindset was. The Governor’s Scholars Program both challenged me and lifted me up. I had heard stories from former scholars, but I didn’t fully understand the experience until it was my own, and it has been truly transformational.”
Including the Class of 2022, nearly 35,000 students have completed the program.
GSP participant Abi Burton from Hickman County High School said, “Through this program, I have found a confidence in myself and my abilities that I have never thought I could have. I have realized how successful I have been in every aspect of my life so far, and the support I have received here from people who are just as driven as me has helped me understand what is truly valuable in our trajectories. The GSP community is one that I will never forget or leave behind. I have made life-long connections with determined people who plan to improve and lead Kentucky in the future.”
To learn more about the Governor’s Scholars Program, visit https://gsp.ky.gov/Pages/index.aspx