News, student successes, and experiences from our Atypical High School.


What it Takes to Be the Best

Josh Stewart

Recently, the Gatton Academy was named America’s top high school by The Daily Beast for the third year in a row. This astounding accomplishment was made possible by the hard work and commitment of each and every Gatton Academy student and staff member. It is thrilling to receive such a high commendation yet again.

For the students of Gatton, though, national rankings aren’t necessarily our top priority. For us, rankings come less as a goal we set to achieve, but more as a result of each person’s hard work and diligence. Dr. Lynette Breedlove, the Director here at Gatton, says, “It’s a bonus.” For us, this is a reward for the countless hours of studying and research each student participates in. It is a reward for the work and dedication each staff member invests in every student. It is a validation of the excellence we strive for each and every day.

One of the major contributing factors to which we can attribute our success is the outstanding support system we have as students. “It’s important to be student-centered,” says Dr. Breedlove. “The focus is on providing opportunities and support for students. The environment and partnership we have with WKU provides an opportunity for students to thrive and reach their optimal level of challenge. For very talented kids, you need to provide a supportive structure. It is important to maintain a good balance of providing for emotional needs and academic challenge.” We are not only attending college two years early as juniors and seniors in high school, we are doing things such as undergraduate research and studying abroad. Out of the 66 students in the class of 2015, 85% have studied abroad. We have Siemens Competition semi-finalists; we have numerous Goldwater recipients; we have National Merit Scholars. The talent displayed throughout the student body is simply astounding.

And of course, this is also a very prestigious honor. Dr. Breedlove says, “It’s exciting and I’m thrilled for the staff and the students because I think it increases available opportunities.” This ranking helps students in their search for internships, competitive scholarships, and colleges. Our applications stand out because those reviewing the applications know what Gatton Academy students have achieved and are capable of accomplishing. They know that we have what it takes to make Gatton Academy the number one public high school in the United States. It gives us a competitive edge. It is an example of how we can do anything we set our minds to, because how many students can say that they go to the number one high school in America? The answer is 128 of Kentucky’s best and brightest.

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Back in the Saddle: The Classes Resume

Tyler Meeks

Although we had a two-week longer break than our friends and schoolmates back home, it is finally time for the students of the Gatton Academy to return to class. Adventure Week is over, and now everyone is unwrapping their textbooks, finding their classrooms, and printing out their syllabi, eager to both begin and continue their education.

In the beginning, classes seem to be just as easy as they were in high school. The first day consists of meeting the teacher, going over the syllabus, and perhaps covering some new material. But after day one, it’s apparent that classes will be much more challenging than anticipated. The Algebra I that was covered in the first day of Calculus will soon be replaced with learning derivatives, limits, integrals, etc. At times, it can feel overwhelming, and there have been students who were unable to handle the pressure. All it takes to overcome these mixed emotions is a little hard work, perseverance, and utilization of one’s available resources.

Take, for instance, Computer Science I: a required class for all incoming juniors. The first day of CS I is spent talking about what is expected from the students, academic honesty, and a ten-minute introduction to a program called Picobot. When the CS lab was introduced the next day, junior Joshua Ray realized how hard the course might actually be. “At first, it was difficult to understand the concept,” Josh stated. “But once I figured out the structure, everything started to come together. Picobot is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

This opinion was shared by many other juniors. “The Java syntax was really confusing,” said junior Luke Miles. “And Picobot was also kind of obscure, but a couple of my senior friends, Cam Hubbard and Brian Carlson, were able to help me figure out how to do everything.”

Academy students have a wealth of resources available to help them succeed. Professors have office hours where they are free to meet with students and answer questions. Mandatory study hours help foster good studying skills and allow students to meet with tutors for some outside help. Students can also rely on each other for assistance. So, as we all get back in the saddle again, remember that working hard from the very beginning, pushing through when it seems impossible, and taking advantage of the resources that are available are key to being a successful Gatton student.

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Gatton Academy Adventure Week: Seniors Return!

Rena Ryumae & Jack Wassom

In the pouring rain, the seniors finally moved into Schneider hall to start off the year. An unlucky few came into the building dripping wet, as they tried to get their belongings up to their rooms. After getting settled in, some meeting their roommates for the first time, we were soon rushed to the 4th floor common area to meet with Beth. At our “re-orientation” meeting, we were saw her renowned naming display as she went around the room and rattled off every student’s first and last name.

Due to the on-and-off rain, many wings decided to order take out food from an assortment of places. Nevertheless, a few students braved the rain and ended up at the Mellow Mushroom where there was an hour plus wait. Their patience and “courage” was well worth it as Mellow was celebrating their 40th anniversary with great food specials. In addition to the great food, there was even a guitar player, who walked around the restaurant, grabbing knifes and using them as guitar slides! The food and entertainment made for a great dinner with new friends.

To end the busy day, students met with their residential counselors for their first official wing meeting. From rules to laughs, we were able to get to know our floor better. For some, this meant the beginning of some great inside jokes and for others it meant the sharing of silly disaster stories. Following the meeting, some of us went on to watch comedy while others went straight to bed. So whether it was late night laughs or bone chilling rain, senior move in day was great!

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Class of 2015 President’s Dinner

By Michael Evans and Paul Hudson

This week the Gatton Academy senior class enjoyed a welcome back dinner at President Ransdell’s house where we were reminded of the unique educational opportunities at Western Kentucky University. The best of Western’s staff were in attendance along with two exemplary students who demonstrated just how beneficial a Hilltopper education could be.

The first student speaker was Will Johnson, a Gatton alumnus. Currently, Will is studying mechanical engineering and conducts applied mathematics research. Specifically, he utilized a photographic quadcopter to explore the sinkhole under Bowling Green’s Corvette museum. Will’s research demonstrated that research can be both practical and purposeful; the quadcopter allowed the sinkhole to be explored from safe distance.

Following Will’s talk, WKU student Sarah Fox shared her experiences of helping disadvantaged youth using music with us. She earned multiple scholarships while at Western Kentucky University and benefited from the supportive learning environment of WKU. Her talk helped drive home the amount of personal attention students receive during their time on the Hill.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the night was the ping pong tournament where Gatton seniors competed against Dr. Claus Ernst for the “Sierpinski” trophy. The trophy will now be handed down to a new ping pong victor each year. This year’s champion was Will Walters who won the tournament after an intense game of “around the world”.

The event ended with a bang with Dr. Ernst and President Ransdell facing each other in a final ping pong battle. Eventually, Dr. Ernst was victorious. Following the event, everyone returned back to the Academy with not only a better understanding of the opportunities offered by Western University, but also the ping pong skills of its faculty.

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Adventure Week: Adjusting to Academy Life

By Lydia Buzzard and Jenna Willett

Every year, students going back to school have to adjust to new classes, new teachers, new classmates, and sometimes new schools. Gatton Academy students are no exception.

After three nights at the Academy, homesickness among the juniors is surprisingly scant. If there are any moments of loneliness, fellow students are never more than one door down, and parents are always a phone call away. Saadia Akhtar said, “When I first came here, I had my doubts and I missed my friends, but it’s been very easy to make new ones because everyone is so nice.” Kindness has quickly become common courtesy among the Juniors. Some of the students, including Rodrigo Daboin-Sanchez, have already formed lasting bonds with their classmates. Rigo, as he is known by his peers, said, “Everyone is like one big family.”

Students have connected over a plethora of activities: capture the flag, board games, conversation circles, and daily meal times. The fourth floor common area has become a hub of social activity providing a firm foundation for friendships among students from all walks of life. Shared interests include music, movies, video games, and literature, all of which have taken on starring roles in student conversations. If ever present smiles and echoing staircases of laughter are any indication, then this year’s Gatton Academy juniors are adjusting splendidly.

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Gatton Academy Adventure Week: Research Fair

Julia Gensheimer and Kelly McKenna

One of the many benefits of coming to the Gatton Academy is the abundance of research opportunities. Academy students are offered the chance to participate in undergraduate research with WKU professors starting as early as their first semester. To introduce the juniors to these opportunities, a research fair was held Monday afternoon. Over 25 faculty and student representatives from a variety of departments came to the Academy to speak with students about their projects. These departments included Chemistry, Architecture and Manufacturing Sciences, Computer Science, Mathematics, Psychology, Physics and Astronomy, Geography and Geology, and Engineering. Both juniors and seniors were excited to learn about current and past studies at WKU. An app for Google Glass, knot theory, graphene synthesis, pollution analysis, mathematical modeling for cancer research, and viewing emotional trends in student growth were just a few of the topics discussed. This was a wonderful chance for the juniors to meet potential research mentors and learn the basics of how to start a project.

Because this was just a sample of the many research opportunities on campus, some students may not have found exactly what they were looking for. Junior Nolan Calhoun was hoping to speak with a biology staff member, but still enjoyed the fair overall: “It was an amazing experience and I think it will really jump start my Gatton career.” Other students previously decided that they were going to wait to participate in research, but still felt the fair was very interesting and informative. By speaking with faculty members and fellow classmates, the juniors are now better prepared to find research mentors if interested with the help of Derick.

Before moving into the Academy, some juniors already committed to a research program known as the Genome Discovery and Exploration Program. This program allows incoming juniors to gain hands-on biology research experience with bacteriophages and become biotechnology certified. Over the summer, students were asked to apply for the program which doubles as a class and a research experience. It is a convenient way to dive into research for those interested. Other students chose to participate in the STEM + Critical Languages program which combines Science, Technology, Engineering and Math subjects with critical language courses such as Arabic and Chinese. STEM + fulfills a research requirement needed to graduate with Honors or Honors with Distinction. It is a great alternative to typical lab work.

Overall, students felt the research fair was a great way to see the variety of opportunities available at WKU. We are very thankful for all of the faculty and student representatives that took the time to share their research with us.

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Move-in Day 2014: The Saga Continues

Tyler Meeks and Josh Stewart, Academy Avatars

The day is August 17th, 2014. A group of twenty seniors stand anxiously outside Schnieder Hall. The rain pours relentlessly; umbrellas do little to shelter us from the torrent. All eyes are focused on the intersection in front of the parking lot. We hold our breath as we wait for a left turn signal from one of the passing cars. At 8:25, we see the blinker of a car flash. The first junior has arrived! We try our best not to swarm the car as it pulls in, and eagerly explain to the new arrival that we are here to help, not steal. Barely a minute later the car had been completely unloaded. As we struggle to carry in a small fridge, clothes, and even a musical instrument, more and more cars start to pile in. Soon, the parking lot fills with hopeful juniors eager to begin the next exciting chapter of their lives at the Gatton Academy.

The juniors pack their belongings into their new rooms, meet their roommates, and slowly begin to mingle with the people who they will be sharing their next two years. As the day progresses, initial apprehension begins to fade. The time finally comes for heartfelt, and some teary, goodbyes between parents and their students. It seems like only yesterday that we were in their shoes. As the cycle continues and a new class arrives, the responsibility of guiding the juniors has now fallen upon us.

It has been a long day for seniors and juniors alike, but it is only the beginning of what will be a truly remarkable and memorable year for us all.

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Gatton Academy students participating in summer projects

Students from the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky are off to an active summer.

From research internships to community service projects in their home communities, recent graduates and rising high school seniors from the school are engaging across the Commonwealth, nation and world.

Fifty-nine Gatton Academy students will travel internationally for language acquisition, culture study, research and credit-based study abroad. Students will be in China, England, Ireland and Russia.

The Gatton Academy summer internship program started last November as students were introduced to various opportunities. Gatton Academy staff members and the Office of Scholar Development at WKU worked with students as they prepared applications for programs through the winter and spring.

This summer, 91 students are involved in some form of summer learning. Students’ plans are listed below.

National Science Foundation
Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs)

The following three students have been selected for prestigious REUs:

Nitin Krishna (’14) of Corbin will be a part of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis REU at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Connor VanMeter (’14) of Lexington will be a part of the Ohio State University Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry REU.
Gretchen Walch (’14) of Alexandria will be a part of the Biological Discovery in Woods Hole REU at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Gatton Research Internship Grant recipients

In its fifth year, the Gatton Research Internship Grant program provides support funding for rising seniors to conduct summer research. Twenty-one students were chosen for summer 2014:

Dana Biechele-Speziale (’15) of Grayson will be working at the WKU Institute for Combustion Science (ICSET) with Dr. Yan Cao. She will study graphene as a material for energy storage.
Morgan Blair (’15) of Morehead will be doing research at the Morehead State University Department of Biology and Chemistry. He will be performing water tests to identify sources of contamination.
Samuel Booth (’15) of Owensboro will be researching with the WKU Department of Mathematics with mentorship from Dr. Claus Ernst. He will study knot theory and program development for theoretical mathematics.
Andrew Brown (’15) of Central City will work in the Theoretical Division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico with Dr. Xianzhu Tang studying plasma physics for magnetic fusion energy.
Justin Bunch (’15) of Elizabethtown will perform research at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center with mentorship from Dr. Theresa Fan. He will study lung cancer metabolism.
Erin Burba (’15) of Paducah will be conducting research at the University of Louisville’s Department of Biology with Dr. Sarah Emery. She will study cellulosic biofuel stock crops on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.
Lydia Buzzard (’15) of Hopkinsville will be using Google Glass to develop an app for WKU with a team of researchers under the mentorship of Dr. Uta Ziegler at the WKU Department of Computer Science.
Brian Carlson (’15) of Stanford will be programming to develop a model intermolecular Fluorescence with Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) under Dr. Wieb Vandermeer of the WKU Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Benjamin Guthrie (’15) of Bowling Green will be working at WKU’s Applied Physics Institute with Dr. Phillip Womble to study micro-sized nuclear power sources.
Logan Houchens (’15) of Crestwood will work with a team of researchers led by Dr. Uta Ziegler in the WKU Department of Computer Science to develop an app for WKU using Google Glass.
Brad Hull (’15) of Crestwood will research at the University of Louisville’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology under the mentorship of Dr. Donghoon Chung. He will study molecular interactions of virus replicase proteins.
Peter Kaminski (’15) of Owensboro will use Google Glass to develop an app for WKU with a team of researchers led by the WKU Department of Computer Science’s Dr. Uta Ziegler.
Elizaveta Khenner (’15) of Bowling Green will conduct research at Russia’s Perm State National Research University with Dr. Maria Kuyukina. Khenner will study the biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in a fluidized-bed bioreactor using immobilized Rhodococcus actinobacteria.
Paige Kington (’15) of Manitou will research with Dr. Ajay Srivastava in WKU’s Department of Biology. She will study the ability of Lunasin to suppress tumor migration/growth in the model organism Drosophila.
Dimitri Leggas (’15) of Lexington will continue research calculations of stationary scattering states in 1D problems. His work is mentored by Dr. Jeremy Maddox of the WKU Department of Chemistry.
Augustus Madsen (’15) of Cynthiana will be working at the WKU Institute for Combustion Science (ICSET) with Dr. Yan Cao.
Vir Patel (’15) of Hopkinsville will do research at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Human Genetics Research. He will use computational biology to trace evolutionary origins of different classes of human disease genes.
Valerie Richmond (’15) of Bowling Green will continue research with the WKU Department of Chemistry’s Dr. Matthew Nee. Her research uses infrared spectroscopy to study the effect of ionic strength on the structure of nitrate ion.
Ananya Sharma (’15) of Bowling Green will be studying how silver nanoparticles are taken up by various tissues in the model organism Drosophila in Dr. Ajay Srivastava’s lab at WKU’s Department of Biology.
William Walters (’15) of Lexington will continue research with Dr. Lance Hahn in the WKU Department of Psychological Sciences. He in mining Twitter data to study neurological actions of informal internet lexicon.
Jack Wassom (’15) of Bowling Green will be working with Dr. Muhammad Jahan in the WKU Department of Architectural and Manufacturing Sciences using the micro-EDM to study aerospace materials.

NCSSSMST Student Research Conference

Six Gatton Academy students are presenting research this summer at the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Math, Science, and Technology (NCSSSMST) Student Research Conference at the University of Louisville. From July 13-16, these students will join approximately 100 other students from across the country to share their research work through oral and poster presentations. Gatton Academy representatives and their presentation titles are:

Justin Bunch (’15) of Elizabethtown will give a presentation titled “Discovery and Genomic Comparison of Bacteriophages BustinJunch and Kimya”
Rachel Cook (’15) of Perryville will present “Discovery and Analysis of Mycobacteriophages Cookland and Enyo”
Julia Gensheimer (’15) of Bowling Green will present “Scalable Production of Reduced Graphene Oxide (rGO) from Graphite Oxide (GO)”
Dimitri Leggas (’15) of Lexington will present “Principles of Bipolar Superposition”
Rena Ryumae (’15) of Union will present a research poster titled “The association of a variant in IRF7 and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)”
Ananya Sharma (’15) of Bowling green will present “Characterization of Novel Mycobacteriophages Isolated from Different Locations in Kentucky”

Experiences Abroad

This summer, 59 Gatton Academy students will be traveling abroad for study.

National Security Language Initiative-for Youth (NSLI-Y)

Sarah Angelle (’14) of Monticello has received an NSLI-Y scholarship for six weeks of intensive Chinese study in China. The scholarship covers all program costs, travel to China, tuition, housing with a host family, activities, and more. These merit-based scholarships are for high school students studying less commonly taught languages.

Confucius Institute’s High School China Summer Bridge Program 2014

For two weeks in July, five students will travel to China visiting cultural sites and participating in language courses and learning traditional activities thanks to funding from the Confucius Institute’s Confucius Classroom program.

Dana Biechele-Speziale (’15) of Grayson
Annabeth Burke (’14) of Mt. Washington
Kain Kotoucek (’15) of Franklin
Logan Mitchell (’14) of Hebron
Joshua “Blake” Sutton (’15) of Franklin


Now in its fourth year, the Gatton Academy is once again partnering with Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, to offer a study abroad course. The following students will study Honors: Introduction to Literature with Professor Walker Rutledge of the WKU Department of English:

Katherine Allen (’15) of Kevil
Melissa Anderson (’15) of Frankfort
Meredith Bickett (’15) of Owensboro
Morgan Blair (’15) of Morehead
Michael Blankenship (’15) of Stopover
India Blasser (’15) of Henderson
Sam Booth (’15) of Owensboro
Anna Braun (’15) of Union
Shelbi Broeking (’15) of Winchester
Andrew Brown (’15) of Central City
Ian Canedo-Muzevic (’15) of Guthrie
Brian Carlson (’15) of Stanford
David Chamberlain (’15) of Winchester
Rachel Cook (’15) of Perryville
Jackeline Orozco Cruz (‘15) of Scottsville
Milan Doan (’15) of Paducah
Michael Evans (’15) of Beattyville
Courtney George (’15) of Maysville
Benjamin Guthrie (’15) of Bowling Green
Sarah Herricks (’15) of Paducah
Logan Houchens (’15) of Crestwood
Cameron Hubbard (’15) of Louisville
Bradford Hull (’15) of Crestwood
Taha Husain (’15) of Lexington
Peter Kaminski (’15) of Owensboro
Allyson King (’15) of Florence
Paige Kington (’15) of Manitou
Dimitri Leggas (’15) of Lexington
Kelly Lynch (’15) of Glasgow
Noah Maikranz (’15) of Beaver Dam
Anna Mayo (’15) of Henderson
Kelly McKenna (’15) of Crestwood
Tyler Meeks (’15) of Custer
John Meyers (’15) of Lexington
Melissa Murphy (’15) of Owensboro
Hailey O’Hair (’15) of Jackson
NaKeya Owens (’15) of London
Jonathan Patterson (’15) of Georgetown
Mollie Pope (’15) of Barbourville
Rachel Price (’15) of Annville
Benjamin Riley (’15) of Louisville
Luke Samuel (’15) of Sparta
Joshua Stewart (’15) of Crestwood
William Walters (’15) of Lexington
Lindsay Walton (’15) of Goshen
Jack Wassom (’15) of Bowling Green
Jenna Willet (’15) of Fancy Farm
Noah Williamson (’15) of Taylorsville
Sarah Yount (’15) of Jackson
Phoebe Zimmerer (’15) of Dexter


Two students will study with the WKU faculty-led study abroad Landscapes of the Supernatural course with Erin Greunke and Jacob Buechler.

Abigail Boone (’15) of Simpsonville
Cameron Hubbard (’15) of Louisville

Other Notable Individual Summer Experiences

Corbin Allender (’14) of Bardstown is planning a “workaway” summer in Europe.
Grace Babbs (’14) of Paducah will be completing an internship with the Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN) with Dr. Brian Rymond.
Meredith Bickett (’15) of Owensboro will work as a pharmacy technician. She will also attend the Sam Fox School of Architecture Discovery Program at Washington University in St. Louis.
Aaron Brzowski (’14) of Owensboro will travel to Nepal for nonprofit research, volunteerism, and distribution of water filters through the Project Purus organization that he founded.
Tori Buckley (’14) of Glasgow will participate in the University of Kentucky’s PEPP Step II Medical/Dental School Preparation Program.
Nathaniel Clause (’14) of Murray will be participating in the American Regions Mathematics League.
Samantha Dinga (’14) of La Grange will be completing an internship with the Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN) with Dr. Vincent Cassone.
Ethan Gill (’14) of Bowling Green will be attending the Google I/O annual technology conference in San Francisco.
Hannah Graff (’14) of Alexandria will be completing a research internship at the Wood Hudson Cancer Research Laboratory in Newport studying breast cancer.
Harry Heyworth (’14) of Prospect will be working with the Northwest Youth Corps.
James “Marcus” Hughes (’14) of Marion will intern with the Space Telescope Science Institute 2014 Space Astronomy Summer Program in Baltimore with Dr. Ron Allen.
Naomi Kellogg (’14) of Elizabethtown will be a counselor with WKU’s Center for Gifted Studies SCATS and VAMPY camps.
Kelly Lynch (’15) of Glasgow will present research work from the WKU Genome Discovery and Exploration Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance PHAGES Symposium at the HHMI Janelia Farm campus in Ashburn, Virginia.
Muhammad “Suhaib” Mahmood (’14) of Crestwood is planning a “workaway” summer in Europe.
Jon “Alex” Malone (’14) of Pikeville will be competing in the National Academic Quiz Tournament High School National Championship and in the High School Academic Pyramid Question’s National All-Star Academic Tournament.
Logan Mitchell (’14) of Hebron will be a research intern with WKU’s Hoffman Environmental Research Institute.
Patrick Osterhaus (’14) of Paducah has been chosen as an intern with The Jackson Laboratory’s Summer Student Program in Bar Harbor, ME.
Hannah Rodgers (’14) of Verona will shadow a general practitioner.
Austin Smith (’14) of La Grange will be completing an internship with the Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN).
Vishnu Tirumala (’14) of Corbin will be volunteering at Baptist Regional Medical Center.
Kevin Ziegler (’14) of Bowling Green will be doing research with Dr. Jarrett Johnson in the WKU Department of Biology.
Melissa Anderson (’15) of Frankfort will be interning at Lockheed Martin.
Michael Blankenship (’15) of Stopover will intern in Savannah State University’s Bridge to Marine Science program in Savannah, Ga.
India Blasser (’15) of Henderson will be volunteering at Methodist Hospital in Henderson and at St. Mary’s Health System in Evansville, Ind.
Abigail Boone (’15) of Simpsonville will be completing coursework through WKU.
Anna Braun (’15) of Union will be a participant in Operation Catapult at the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology.
Michael Evans (’15) of Beattyville will be completing coursework through WKU.
Julia Gensheimer (’15) of Bowling Green will be doing a research internship at WKU’s Institute for Combustion Science (ICSET). She will also be presenting research at the 248th American Chemical Society’s National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco.
Courtney George (’15) of Maysville will be completing coursework through the Maysville Community and Technical College.
Benjamin Guthrie (’15) of Bowling Green will be completing coursework through WKU.
Sarah Herricks (’15) of Paducah will be completing coursework online.
Peter Kaminski (’15) of Owensboro will participate in the Air Force Academy’s Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Allyson King (’15) of Florence will intern with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) with Dr. David Moore.
Kelly McKenna (’15) of Crestwood will be a counselor with the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana camp.
Melissa Murphy (’15) of Owensboro will be interning with dermatologist Dr. Nicole Brey.
Kathryn “Rachel” Price (’15) of Annville will be completing a service project at the McCreary County Park and will be doing online coursework.
Cameron Richards (’15) of Bowling Green will be participating in the Summer College Audition Program at the Jacob’s School of Music at the Indiana University-Bloomington. He will also be doing coursework through WKU.
Valerie Richmond (’15) of Bowling Green will be participating in the Women’s Technology Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Benjamin Riley (’15) of Louisville will continue research with Dr. Ting-Hui Lee of the WKU Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Rena Ryumae (’15) of Union will be doing a research internship at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center with Dr. Leah Kottyan. She will also be volunteering in the nursing unit at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Florence and completing coursework through WKU.
Saralinda Schell (’15) of Bowling Green will participate in the Arabic Summer Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.
Christian Simms (’15) of Bardstown will participate in the United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar in Annapolis, Md., the United States Air Force Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the United States Military Academy’s Summer Seminar in West Point, N.Y. He will also complete an internship at Unus LLC in Birmingham, Ala.
Joshua Stewart (’15) of Crestwood will participate in the University of Kentucky’s Health Researchers Youth Academy.He will also present research work from the WKU Genome Discovery and Exploration Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance PHAGES Symposium at the HHMI Janelia Farm campus in Ashburn, Virginia.
Sarah Yount (’15) of Jackson will be conducting research in the Robinson Forest with the University of Kentucky.

About the Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, the Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s high school for gifted and talented junior and seniors. Gatton Academy students enroll early as full-time WKU students to pursue their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Newsweek named the Gatton Academy the number one public high school in the United States in 2012 and 2013.

Contact: Derick Strode, (270) 745-6565.

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Alumni Spotlight: Wayne Schmitt (Class of 2013, Montgomery County)

Can you describe your experience at the Gatton Academy?
That is kind of difficult to put into words because there are so many things about Gatton that are almost indescribable. I was challenged in ways that I had never been before. I was able to do research and have an early look at what college might be like. However, I think most of all, it provided such an incredible and open community, one necessary for the thriving of gifted students from across the state. We were able to look at each other’s accomplishments and struggles and see that we were all in this together. We were there for each other, during the good and the bad. These two years were created from the group effort of over 120 students and staff members. I made so many great friends, many of whom I miss so much. Given the opportunity, I would give them a place to stay here in Philadelphia in a heartbeat. If I had to go back, I would definitely do it again.

How have your experiences at the Gatton Academy helped you in your adult life?
Although I can say that my experiences here at the University of Pennsylvania have been much different and more challenging than at Gatton, I definitely can say that it gave me a good foundation for higher education. Gatton also gave me many opportunities to show how involved I was in and out of the classroom. It also was an opportunity to live and work with a more diverse population of students. Everyone from Gatton came from a different background, and Gatton provided us with a safe place to express our ideas and opinions. Also, I think that the Gatton Academy allowed me to be more fully responsible for myself; no longer were my parents telling me to clean my room or wake up in the morning. This definitely prepared me for the all the self-responsibility I now have in college.

Since the Academy what have you been up to?
I have been studying at the University of Pennsylvania, trying to balance school with my work study and extracurricular organizations. I hope to get involved in ecology research in next fall. Before classes started, I took part in an amazing pre-orientation program called PennGreen where I learned a lot about sustainability practices and environmental health, while also making new friends in the process. With clubs and extracurricular activities, I am involved in the Freshmen Fuerza, a Latino cultural group for freshmen, Penn Environmental Group, and some of the LGBT groups on campus.

What do you aspire to achieve in the next ten years?
I hope to go to grad school for biology and to become a research biologist/ecologist. I want the work that I do to have a positive impact on the conservation of animals, ecosystems, and the environment as a whole. On the side, I hope to have made at least a few short films along the way to show my love of film and filmmaking. I have no specific plan in mind, but of course there is still plenty of time for that.

What was your favorite memory from your time at the Gatton Academy?
There are so many great memories from Gatton, it is so difficult to pick just one. I definitely enjoyed the 4+ hour one-on-ones with my RC talking about everything from religion and philosophy to “Why does Avril Lavigne sing Radiohead at the top of her lungs?” There were definitely the beautiful days, sitting out on the Colonnade steps, and eating “Pizza Tacos” (i.e. Pizza from DaVinci’s + 2 Tacos from Izzi’s made into a delicious sandwich). However, some of my favorite memories were formed during the week before classes started my senior year. Being able to spend time with the other community developers and Avatars was such a wonderful experience without the stress from classes.

We would like to thank Wayne for taking time out of his busy schedule to be interviewed.

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Class of 2016 STEM + Application

STEM+Critical Languages Application

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