FRANKFORT, KY (Aug. 31, 2023) — This summer, 1,052 outstanding Kentucky high school seniors representing 119 counties completed the Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program (GSP).
For more than four decades, the residential program has focused on enhancing Kentucky's next generation of civic and economic leaders through educational and career opportunities at college campuses across the state.
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.
"My time as a Governor's Scholar was really valuable for me academically, socially and personally, so I always encourage high school students to take advantage of this great summer program," said Gov. Beshear. "The benefits to the participants and the state go far beyond the summer program and make a positive impact throughout their lives. GSP is an outstanding program that is helping us build a better Kentucky."
An agency of the Education and Labor Cabinet, GSP is a five-week residential summer program with staggered starting dates at three Kentucky college campuses. The 2023 program, which is provided at no cost to students selected for the highly competitive program, began at Centre College on July 10, Morehead State University on July 15, and Murray State University on July 21.
The 2023 Governor's Scholars took classes ranging from architectural design and forensics to creative writing and literary studies, philosophy, agribusiness and biotechnology. They also attended general studies classes to balance the scientific and humanistic fields of study, as well as a leadership seminar on themes related to their age group as they continue their path to personal and professional success.
"Since its beginning, the concept of a community of learners still permeates the magic that takes place every summer on each of the Governor's Scholars Program's three sites. Community is one of the strongest pillars of the program and ensures the success of the five-week endeavor," said Aristofanes Cedeño, Ph.D., executive director of GSP.
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 school. 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.
GSP is not a scholarship program, but many scholarship opportunities are offered by Kentucky colleges and universities to students who have completed the five-week program.
"I have been given hundreds of opportunities that will forever impact my future life. When I first arrived to the GSP campus, I thought that I only had to survive the next five weeks and will get my scholarship. As I look back, I reevaluate my thinking to realize that I didn't have to attend GSP, instead I got the opportunity to attend," said 2023 Governor's Scholar Brenton Long from Boyd County High School.
"I have also come to the realization that while the scholarships are important to my college career, the relationships built at the GSP with scholars from all over Kentucky and the strengthening of the character that everyone experiences are also a unique benefit to becoming the leader that each of us wants to be."
When GSP began in 1983, Kentucky leaders wanted to encourage high-achieving Kentucky seniors to attend a Kentucky college or university to reduce the "brain drain." According to the most recent data, nearly 80% of 2020 scholars chose to pursue higher education in Kentucky in the fall of 2021.
2023 Governor's Scholar Margaret Kitchen from McCracken County High School said she is grateful for the opportunity to attend the Governor's Scholars Program as it has helped her grow into a better leader and servant of her community.
"These five weeks have opened my eyes to the vast diversity within our beautiful commonwealth," Kitchen said. "Talking to my peers and mentors has given me a better idea of my leadership strengths, which I will use as I return to my hometown. My classes have helped me to build confidence in myself and my own ideas, as well as learning to take intellectual risks."
Including the Class of 2023, nearly 36,000 students have completed the program.
"The opportunities provided by the Governor's Scholars Program, both academically and personally, have been instrumental in shaping my future and fostering personal growth," said GSP participant Elizabeth McClurg from Beechwood High School in Northern Kentucky. "The program's emphasis on intellectual curiosity, leadership and community involvement has inspired me to strive for excellence in all aspects of my life. I have participated in stimulating academic activities while developing lifelong friendships. The program has expanded my horizons and allowed me to explore various fields of study, empowering me to make more informed decisions about my educational and career path."
To learn more about the Governor's Scholars Program, visit https://gsp.ky.gov/Pages/index.aspx.