The noted writer Aldous Huxley once wrote, “Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.” Four students from Rowan County Senior High School were faced with just such a challenge, learning how they could use their experiences gained over the summer to help them grow both this school year and throughout their future. Four students – Hathlyn Chapman, Kelsey Cyrus, Samuel Reynolds and Nathan Terrell – took part in the 2017 Governor’s Scholars Program. (NOTE: Hathlyn Chapman has since moved out of state with her family.) The program gave the students the experience of a lifetime, something they will remember for many summers to come.
The Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP) is an intense learning program, offering students the chance to delve into areas that they would not normally experience during the regular school year or hone skills that time may not allow in a regular school setting. The program also allows the students the opportunity to share ideas, opinions and talents with fellow students from across the Commonwealth as well as learn from professors and masters in their craft whose responsibility it is to challenge the students.
GSP was held at three venues, Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Murray State University in Murray and Morehead State University. The mission of the Governor’s Scholars Program is “to enhance Kentucky’s next generation of civic and economic leaders and to create models of educational excellence for teachers and students.” Both Samuel Reynolds and Nathan Terrell attended the GSP program at Northern Kentucky University while Kelsey Cyrus attended the GSP program hosted by Murray State University.
Each student has the chance to select areas of study that interests them. The GSP administrators pour over these selections and then assign each student to an area of study. The intensive 5-week summer residency program is designed to challenge students to think on a higher level, encouraging the students to discuss a variety of issues, such as Kelsey Cyrus’ choice of Biological and Environmental Issues, Nathan Terrell’s study of Health Care Issues, and Samuel Reynolds’ selection of Visual Arts.
“The classes were more laid back,” said Kelsey Cyrus. “Our teacher taught by discussion so it was like having a conversation. We learned from one another.”
Even though Nathan Terrell has seen himself leaning toward a career in the political or legal field, he chose to study the Healthcare Industry to push his boundaries. Nathan Terrell noted that, to him, the focus of the classes at GSP was for the students to learn from each other rather than becoming obsessed with earning a particular letter grade or boosting a GPA.
He then added, “There is a quote that says, ‘Life is 10% what happens to you, the other 90% is how you react to it.’ The GSP experience happens after you leave the program. You begin to apply its philosophy of being a lifelong learner and it just open your mind to a whole new perspective on life.”
Samuel Reynolds, whose area of study was visual arts, stated, “The content and amount of work were a lot less stressful, even though we still had projects and reading that had to be completed. It just didn’t feel like school work.”
He then added, “I would have to describe GSP as a ‘life-changing experience’ because of how influential the program was to me in so many ways. It basically opened my eyes to a new way of living and looking at life, not to mention improving my art skills.”
The Governor’s Scholars Program requires students to be open to new ideas and to challenge themselves. At the same time, though, the summer learning experience gives students the opportunity to meet new people, people their own age who may become lifelong friends.
When asked to describe his best memory of being part of GSP, Samuel Reynolds answered, “It would be almost impossible to highlight a specific experience or memory as the ‘best,’ but, in general, just the times I went out on a limb and made friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Kelsey Cyrus had a similar answer, saying, “It was hard to choose just one memory, but the best thing to come out of GSP was the friendships.”
Nathan Terrell’s favorite memory was with his GSP friend, Elle. “Elle and I ran through a rain storm and fell into a puddle. Then we joined the whole GSP community sliding down the hill and jumping into a puddle.”
When asked if these students would recommend experience of attending the Governor’s Scholars Program to their fellow RCSHS students, Nathan Terrell answered, “I would so recommend GSP. It teaches you the importance of community and being a lifelong learner.”
Kelsey Cyrus agreed, adding, “GSP was a unique experience. I will always remember the summer of 2017 and the people that I met will be part of my life forever. I think others would enjoy it as much as I did.”
Samuel Reynolds remarked, “I would most certainly recommend GSP to other students. It was probably the most enlightening and fun experience in my life so far, and I think anyone would benefit from a program like GSP. Honestly, the people who aren’t interested in applying to GSP just don’t understand what they’re missing.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes was quoted as saying, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” For Kelsey Cyrus, Samuel Reynolds and Nathan Terrell, the Governors Scholars Program stretched their minds, broadened their horizons, and gave them an experience that will be with them for years to come.