UK offers new scholarship

High school students in eastern and southern Kentucky will have a new opportunity to attend UK on scholarship.

UK is the latest Kentucky college or university to offer scholarships to graduates of The Center for Rural Development’s Rogers Scholars youth leadership program—a program that emphasizes the development of technological skills and builds in participants a sense of leadership, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a commitment to rural Kentucky. The announcement makes UK one of 15 schools to offer the scholarships for the program’s graduate. The program aims to keep students in Kentucky and lead their communities after college.

“There is a huge issue of the out-migration of the region’s best and brightest,” president and CEO of The Center for Rural Development Lonnie Lawson said. “Students will leave and never come back.”

Founded in 1998, the Rogers Scholars program has graduated more than 700 students. To get into the program, students apply during their sophomore year in high school, and those selected through a competitive process attend the program during the summer before their junior year. The program is held in Somerset and the surrounding area, with most events taking place at The Center. Students are housed at a local hotel, and all lodging, meals and program expenses are free.

“It’s very intense for just a week,” Michael Cornett, director of marketing and public relations for The Center said.

During the week, scholars are able to participate in majors in video production, information technology, and engineering.

“These students are some of the best and brightest,” Cornett said. “They shouldn’t have to leave Kentucky to get an education.”

In addition to keeping the students in the region, the program instills respect for southern and eastern Kentucky, Lawson said.

“If we educate them here, they’ll stay here,” he said. “If they go away, they’ll never comeback unless they’re retiring here.”

Lawson said the partnership with UK would be huge in the Center’s student retention efforts.

“With UK being a land grant institution, it was a perfect fit,” he said. “Students can relate with the school through sports and other means. They grow up hearing about UK.”