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About Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program

The Governor’s Scholars Program is a summer residential program for outstanding high school students in Kentucky who are rising seniors. The Program originated in 1983 as a result of Kentucky leaders’ concern that the state’s “best and brightest” were leaving the Commonwealth to pursue educational and career opportunities elsewhere without fully understanding the potential of their talents at home. Students who are selected attend the Program without charge. In the spirit of partnership, the Office of the Governor, the Kentucky State Legislature, and private enterprise come together to provide the financial support for the Program.

The Program’s mission is to enhance Kentucky’s next generation of civic and economic leaders. The first class numbered 230 and was housed on one college campus. Since then, the Program has enjoyed excellent support and grown to over 1,000 students on three campuses.

Host campuses are determined competitively every three years. The 2013 session are to be hosted by Bellarmine University in Louisville, Morehead State University in Morehead, and Murray State University in Murray. The core curriculum for these summer sessions is threefold:

  • Focus Area: a “major” subject of study, assigned according to scholar preference as indicated on the application.
  • General Studies: an area of study assigned by staff to challenge the scholars. Courses frequently include service-learning components in the community.
  • Seminar: a discussion-based small group session. Emphasis is placed on respectful debate and discussion. Scholars are encouraged to ask probing questions.

Faculty and staff also invite a variety of speakers and performers from a range of disciplines and pursuits to visit campus. Carefully organized field trips, special events, and a film series also contribute to the comprehensive educational atmosphere in which scholars are challenged not only to examine, but, more importantly, to nurture their sense of learning and leadership.

In order to participate in the Program, students must be nominated by their high schools and then compete on a state-wide level. Selection for the program is highly competitive, with an application process similar to that of prestigious colleges and universities. In addition to an academic profile that includes difficulty of course load, GPA, and at least one standardized test score, the application requires an outline of all extracurricular activities, a history of volunteer service, and a list of job positions held. Teacher recommendations include both quantitative evaluation and qualitative descriptions of the student’s performance and potential. The final component of the application is an original essay.