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The Scholar Experience

Governor's Scholars live in college dormitories with separate quarters for men and women. They learn a great deal about themselves and others as they live in the community and develop long-lasting friendships.

The program provides students, faculty, and staff a rare opportunity to share the joy and discovery of learning and to exchange ideas in a warm community atmosphere. A select group of supportive high school and college teachers works closely with the Scholars in classes, seminars, and co-curricular activities. Well-known speakers and performers as well as films, field trips, special events, and a wide range of recreational opportunities offer an array of stimulating activities that provide fun and enjoyment while Scholars learn. Student-initiated events are encouraged.

What Do the Scholars Say?

The GSP experience is one that cannot be found in a college. It cannot be found in a classroom. It cannot be found in a textbook or a website or even this letter. It is found in the hearts and minds of the students who bring the campus to life every summer with the buzz of knowledge and friendship. It is found in the growth of a community founded on the principles of education and rooted in diversity. It is found in the stories we’ll continue to tell years after we’ve left this place. But most importantly, it is an experience that is dependent on the contribution and dedication of Kentuckians who believe in their youth.

Rahul Joseph, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

What has impressed me the most is the passion of the teachers here. Seeing their joy in teaching has ignited a joy of learning in me. Everything here has taught me to become a better student and a better person. These past five weeks have been amazing. I’ve made so many new friends and experienced so many new things while being here. I have been immersed in diversity for five weeks and that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Patrick Tancula, Trinity High School

Coming from a particularly small town, I rarely have the opportunities that I have had while at GSP. I have loved every second of this program, for I am constantly surrounded by people who are challenging me to live up to my fullest potential. As a community of scholars, we are all on the same track and can help one another along the way. The diversity of cultures, opinions, and perspectives at GSP has left an indelible mark on my life. GSP is a unique experience that the state of Kentucky is fortunate to host.

Angela Woods, Carroll County High School

Coming into the GSP community, I wasn't sure what to expect. It took only a few short days until I began to have a closeness with my new friends and faculty members that I knew would last forever. GSP at Morehead not only provided me a glimpse at the college life, but it brought forth new friendships, altered outlooks on life, a more open mind, appreciation for my home state, and experiences that could never be re-made. They tell you to not attempt to explain your experience to others, rather learn from it as you grow. I don't think I could truly explain to anyone what I got out of my five weeks at GSP. As I enter as a freshman at EKU in the fall of 2010, I will be majoring in graphic design, which was a decision made after taking Deeno Golding's visual arts class at MSU. The class provided me with a strengthened interest, entry-level skills, and a passion for graphic communications. Not only has GSP opened my options for post-secondary education and helped me make a choice for my career, but it has provided some of the best friendships that will never end. I keep in close contact with my fellow "GSP-ers" and when we do get together, it's like we were never apart. If I could go back I would, If someone asked me if they should go, I would say FOR SURE, and if I have the opportunity to promote or even serve as an RA, I will! The Governor's Scholar Program at Morehead State was one of the best experiences I have had... ever.

Alex Carson

GSP is the major milestone in my life that helped me figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. Those five weeks, the fastest five weeks of my life, changed me. I wish I could go back and relive those memories every single day. The people I met at GSP have developed into long lasting friends, and I will be going to college with some of them this fall. I can only hope that every student takes the time to apply for this marvelous program. Thank you so much GSP for a truly life-changing experience. I'm forever in debt.

Tyler Fields, Phelps High School

2009 Scholar on the Morehead State University Campus

GSP changed my life forever. From the variety of the people I met to the close relationships I formed with them, GSP will forever have a special place in my heart because it allowed me to break out of my shell, to acknowledge my full potential. GSP truly changed who I was for the better, and it has made me the person I am today. Thank you so much for continuing to give the same opportunities to Kentucky's brightest that you gave to me!

Taylor Forns, St. Xavier High School

2009 Scholar on the Centre College Campus

The Governor's Scholars Program was the first time that I was able to truly explore my passion for learning. It exposed me to all Kentucky has to offer, especially her people.  GSP afforded me the opportunity to spend a summer with over 350 amazing students, faculty, and staff that remain some of my closest friends, even over a decade later.

The program helped me define who I wanted to be in the future and how I could make a difference.  I credit it for introducing me to my college, where I spent four of the best years of my life, and it ultimately aided me in being able to afford such a prestigious institution.  I have been honored with the opportunity to give back to GSP for all it has given me.  My service as a staff member and board member, as well as my decision to give back financially to the program, have allowed me to help provide future generations with their own version of the life-changing experience I was afforded during the summer of 1997. Simply put, the Governor's Scholars Program has shaped my future.

Wes Fugate, Prestonsburg High School
1997 Scholar on the Northern Kentucky University Campus

My participation in the GSP proved to be an invaluable experience. The program provided many opportunities for maturity as well as personal and academic growth.  For me, GSP was my first summer away from home and as a result, I was initially tentative about the program.  However, GSP was an amazing experience and anyone who has the opportunity to participate should do so. GSP teaches a variety of life skills both in the classroom and outside with other students in the program.  For some, GSP is about finding a new skill or ability and capitalizing on the opportunity to pursure new dreams.
Jeffrey Roberts
2002 Scholar

I was in the first GSP class in the summer of 1983 at Centre College.  I can honestly say it was the turning point in my life.  Until then I was a timid person who was not really sure what he was passionate about and who had not spent much time away from home.  The Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program really opened up my eyes to a whole new world.  Everyone involved, from the faculty to the RA's to my fellow students, contributed to it being the single most important experience of my life.  It enabled me to take the big step of going away to college and it gave me focus and ambition for pursuing a degree in Computer Science at a liberal arts college.  It's hard to describe in one paragraph how much this program meant to me, how much all the decisions I have made that flowed from this one decision have meant to me, but suffice it to say that I would never have lived a life as full as the one that I have lived these past 25+ years were it not for GSP '83.

Tom Borcher

1983 Scholar on the Centre College Campus

GSP was the beginning to a whole new view on life. I left GSP feeling like a new person. I learned so many things about not only various subjects, but myself. I met people I will never forget. I'm attending college 3 hours away, and without GSP, I would not know anyone going in. GSP has become a central part of my life that I am very proud of. 

Alicia Beach

2009 Scholar on the Bellarmine University Campus

To me, participating in Governor's School was a revelation, a pleasant surprise, and a life-changing event.
I had no idea what to expect from living in dorms at Northern Kentucky University or attending a summer school with a group of people I'd never met. The classes I wound up taking enriched me in a way reading in my room at night or doing my pre-algebra homework during French classes in my small high school in Simpson County could not. My art class focused on filmmaking, and we worked making stop-motion animation and writing, directing, acting in, and editing filmed skits. My seminar class gave me my first exposure to the 1996-era internet and email - the days of Netscape and telnet. More than that, seminar was a place where my peers and I could bring up issues with sociological, political, economic, and emotional importance with other teenagers in discussions guided by a slightly older mentor. 
The overall GSP experience opened my eyes to how amazing and bright my fellow scholars and I were, but it also highlighted how much we had to learn about how society works and our place in it, the importance of thinking critically instead of making assumptions, that none of us really had it all quite figured out at age 17, despite our oh-so-wise late-night discussions about politics and music and religion out on the circle in front of the cafeteria. And although we thought we were adults already, we still played elbow tag in the rain, sat around playing cards or dancing in social rooms, captured a hill with one of the only trees on campus in the name of Bastille Day, and put Hardees wrappers up in our windows as signs of rebellion.
GSP taught me that I wouldn't always feel quite so isolated. I was always shy about my good grades and my love of reading and learning, as it brought attention to myself in my small town that I didn't always like - I didn't want to earn further scorn being a know-it-all. But after meeting several hundred smart, witty, creative, diverse, wonderful seniors-to-be from across the state who weren't ashamed of showing their interests, their passion, I became hopeful that there were other people out in the world who cared about the same things I did, who were more like me. I made friends there that, 14 years later, I still talk to on a frequent basis. 
Students who have a chance to be governor's scholars: go for it. Your experience may or may not be as positive as mine was, your transition back from scholar to high school student easier or harder, your summer more or less boring. But I think it's important to take the opportunity and make the most of it, because even if it's not your first choice of how to spend your summer, it may end up being the best summer of your youth. 
Eve Strain

1996 Scholar on the Northern Kentucky University Campus

The Governor's Scholars Program instills the courage to always challenge oneself. From studying abroad to running for student body president, experiences at GSP gave me the confidence to take risks. 
Blair Kmetz

2006 Scholar on the Bellarmine University Campus

When I was accepted to the Governor's Scholars Program I was estatic.  As the days drew closer to the day I would leave home, I grew very nervous.  I was scared to leave home, but remained excited through the wait. When I arrived at the campus, though, I felt better.  The first few days were so well planned that I immediately felt at home. I made new friends who I still keep in contact with and I have many vivid memories unique to only me.  Sometimes it is frustrating because people at home grow weary of hearing my "GSP stories" but that doesn't stop me from sharing them.  Those five weeks at GSP changed my life and have made me excited about college.  The only hard part was coming back to high school after spending five weeks with only "smart kids."  I enthusiastically recommend this program to anyone, whether they plan to go to a Kentucky college or not.
Cat Hughes

Smelling the sun was the first assignment on the agenda in Tony Crunk’s Literary Studies and Creative Writing Class during the Governor’s Scholar Program at Centre College. The first day we walked into class we met an eccentric, thin, graying, liberal college professor whose theory on life summed up my GSP experience. The idea of smelling the sun stemmed from the silent walks we were instructed to take. After our fifteen-minute walks, Crunk would ask us what we learned about the world on our walks. Then, he would ask us to name ten things we smelled, and after going down the list of normal smells, we would always end up at the sun. I now believe that smelling the sun was Crunk’s way of teaching us to look at the world differently, to help me look at all that surrounds me through a more introspective and questioning perspective – which I, ultimately, believe is one of the goals of the Governor’s Scholar Program. 
My experience as a Governor Scholar continues to impact me and continues to influence the decisions I make. Arriving on Centre’s campus and being surrounded by hundreds of teens who shared my drive to succeed in and out of the classroom, I realized how similar we all were. Our talents, goals, motivators, values, and lifestyles allowed us to become a unique community. Through the Governor’s Scholar Program, I have learned the importance of surrounding myself with diverse individuals:  people of different ethnicities, religions, sexes, lifestyles and abilities. Participating in the Governor’s Scholar Program, I came to understand that embracing my diversity enriches my life and helps my community to become stronger.
Enjoying each moment of my GSP experience, I began to slowly realize what I truly cherished in my Bowling Green life. Being separated from small children for thirty-five days, however painful, was a gift in my life. I became more aware of my dedication to the younger generation, bettering my community, and sharing my gifts with others. Being immersed in a very unique learning environment I was able to learn how blessed I am that I love to learn, I love sharing my talents with others, I love being surrounded with amazing, talented people, and that I love to learn from others. I now know that what I have learned to this point in my life is minute when taken from a worldwide perspective. I have learned that my educational journey is truly just beginning; my sun-smelling experiences are just at their commencement.
While on Centre’s campus, I met hundreds of my peers that were well-educated in diverse subjects and many non-traditional academic areas. Through this experience, I discovered the importance of having a well-rounded education and the importance of learning both qualitative and quantitative data about our world. Upon graduating from college, I now dream of designing a school that focuses on the subject areas that have been overlooked by public and private high schools. I dream of someday opening a school that focuses equally on core academic subjects and the arts and humanities. The school I envision would begin as a learning center for pre-school aged children. I would like my students to take part in weekly art, music, dance, physical education, agriculture, and foreign language classes, as well as, instruction in the core academic subjects. The students at my school will learn to love the subjects that are taught and learn to love education rather than learning to dread the forced memorization of monotonous and often meaningless material. I dream of creating a school that teaches students to smell the sun every day, a school that teaches children to embrace and love the world and people around them.
It is with my experience at the Governor’s Scholar Program that I have learned that being a scholar is a lifestyle. It is not only a title, or an honor, but it is a way of living my everyday life. The idea of smelling the sun has piqued my interests in discovering the world I live in, and it has taught me that I have a responsibility to share this theory on life with the next generation of American scholars.
Kate Wintuska
Scholar on the Centre College Campus