In less than a month, Marion County will be graduating many of its best and brightest, but while many seniors will be going on to start their undergraduate careers in the fall, eight juniors will be getting a small taste of the college experience this Summer with eight Marion County High School Students: Rose Caldwell, Amira Bowman, Maddie Wiser, Ava Akers, Owen Daugherty, Daisy Hawkins, I’Myni Means, and Drew Morgan selected to attend the 2023 Governor’s Scholars Program.
First announced during last month’s school board meeting, this year, the eight accepted MCHS students represent 100% of the applications passed on to GSP by MCPS. The program itself has an approximately 50% acceptance rate, according to the GSP government website. During the past two years, MCPS has sent six students to participate in the program.
Founded in 1983, the program’s stated mission is to “enhance Kentucky’s next generation of civic and economic leaders,” the program has expanded from one to three campuses and quadrupled in size over the past forty years, accepting around 1000 students, with students placed in one of three five-week sessions in June and July.
“When talking to the students after they’ve gone to GSP, they talk about the friendships that they’ve developed,” said MCHS School Counselor Rachel Trent. “What I also see is a higher level of competence in their ability to be successful.”
According to Trent, who assists interested students in navigating the GSP’s submission process, the application itself is two-tiered, with students first submitting an approximately 40-page application to the county itself, which selects those it will send on to GSP during the spring semester.
“I think they had phenomenal applications,” said Trent. “They’re all very, very involved. Part of what GSP looks for is leadership and community service and all of these kids have multiple different things that they’re involved in. They spend a lot of time giving back to the community. They’re all leaders in their own ways, and I think that’s a big piece of it.”
While the application covers several different topics, according to the students themselves, going back to think about and mull over all of their accomplishments over their high school career was one of the most difficult parts of the process.
“Sometimes it was hard for me to remember everything that I did,” said Akers. We had to elaborate on even the little things. Like something that was maybe like an hour long and you had to write a whole paragraph about it.”
“You had to figure out what you took out of it,” said Daugherty. “Sometimes it wouldn’t necessarily look like that big of an experience.”
In Trent’s view, the program could not have selected a better batch of candidates.
“The students are pretty phenomenal,” said Trent. “I’ve known most of them since last year. They all work very, very hard for their education and their academics are very important to them. All were very dedicated to working on the GSP application.”
For their part, the students noted that they would not have gotten this far without the support of various MCHS teachers and staff, with many giving feedback on their applications and providing a lot of knowledge going into the process.
“Mrs. Trent told us about the program and left it at that but she was involved every step of the way,” said Bowman. “She made sure that we knew what we were doing and that we had the best chance that we could for getting in… We had a good foundation of people helping us,”
Looking ahead, the students also expressed a lot of excitement for what the program has to offer, from meeting other talented students across Kentucky to getting the chance to experience a taste of the college living experience.
“I am excited to be exposed to what college is going to be like,” said Caldwell. “I want to have an experience that I couldn’t have here.”
“Everybody says how much of a life-changing experience it is,” said Bowman. “I want to make memories that you couldn’t get anywhere else.”