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Keeneland’s College Scholarship Day awards local students

Matthew Mueller
Students react to winners of the third race on Friday, April 19, 2024, at Keeneland During College day in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Matthew Mueller | Staff

Keeneland’s semi-annual College Scholarship Day offered free admission to all pre-registered college students that also entered them into their scholarship raffle that included two $10,000 scholarships. 

This year’s spring recipients of the $10,000 scholarships were EKU junior Larrah Martin and UK sophomore Cate Cox on April 19. Both recipients were required to register online before 3 p.m. and on site at the time of the giveaway.

“I’m in shock, I’m so happy,” Cox said. “She called me probably like 20 minutes ago, and it just said ‘Wireless Caller’ and I was like ‘Huh, I don’t know if I should answer this,’ but I did.”

The two girls were given their checks inside of the Winner’s Circle. 

“I’m shocked,” Martin said. “(I found out) just like 10 minutes ago. I was like ‘I guess I’ll answer.”

Martin and Cox had both called their moms to let them know the news. 

“I called my mom and she’s texting all of our family, she doesn’t know what to do,” Cox said. 

Ten $2,000 scholarships were awarded after each race. The recipients this year were: 

  • Savannah Cave – University of Kentucky
  • Erin Heil – Transylvania University
  • Ryan Kiesling – University of Kentucky
  • Rachel Susan Shernin – Bluegrass Community & Technical College
  • Maya Leccese – University of Kentucky
  • Ian Steely – Campbellsville University
  • Miriam Mianda – Bluegrass Community & Technical College
  • Olivia Dixon – University of Kentucky
  • Astha Patel – University of Kentucky
  • Evelyn Pearson – Midway University

UK juniors Megan Parsons and Kaitlin Sammons had both attended College Day before. They said they enjoyed meeting new people and hanging out with friends. 

“I’ve only done College Scholarship Day once and it was last spring. I absolutely loved it, mostly because I get to meet a lot of people,” Sammons said. “I think that they have it catered a little more towards our specific generation, I just love the photoshoots and everything, I just think it’s fun.”

According to Kara Heissenbuttel, senior director of operations and community relations at Keeneland, there were 5,000 students who had scanned into the park, also receiving free mocktails, photo opportunities and vouchers for free a hot dog. Additionally, students were eligible for 15% off at the gift shop. 

“It’s always nice getting free stuff, not going to lie,” Parsons said. “I always run into people I know and I thought that wouldn’t happen, but it’s really cool to see people all dressed up. I feel like that’s my favorite part, just seeing people I know in different environments.”

The pair were right by the track waiting for the next race, mocktails in hand — an addition that Sammons said she loved. 

UK freshman Chip Collins was in attendance with a group of friends for his first time at College Day. 

“Watching the horses run with my friends, you get that little adrenaline rush near the end and you’re like ‘Yeah let’s go, let’s go,’” he said. 

Collins had planned on going to College Scholarship Day since he first heard about the event a month prior. 

Graycee Merten, a UK sophomore, also took a trip to the races for College Scholarship Day for the first time this year. 

“It’s been great, I’ve lost a lot of money, but hey, I see it as like donating,” she said. “I grew up on a horse farm, so I kind of miss seeing the horses and everything.”

Merten had seen many of her friends throughout the day and said she was thinking about going back to the track the following Saturday, as well. 

“I definitely think I get to see a lot more of my friends, it’s a lot more enjoyable, because it’s kind of a bonding moment for everyone. I’ve seen people from my hometown here, people that I haven’t seen in months,” Merten said. 

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Lilly Keith, Assistant News Editor
Matthew Mueller, Photo Editor

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