A Student’s Guide to the Governor’s Scholars Program


My best friends and I on our last night of GSP.

Bailey Darbro, Jr. Editor

“I’ll Always Remember You” was playing in the background. Every scholar’s GSP sweatshirt was soaked in tears. I linked arms with my best friends and held them tight. All the people in the room were either huddled together, holding each other while crying, or capturing the final moments with their friends on film. It was our last night at the Governor’s Scholars Program. After five weeks with some of the best people I’ve ever met, it was time to say our goodbyes. 

Established in 1983, the Governor’s Scholars Program is a five-week residential program for rising seniors that is held at three Kentucky campuses each summer. Centre College, Bellarmine University, and Morehead State University are hosting for summer 2022. Students who are accepted into the program will be immersed in an academically rigorous environment, along with a nurturing and welcoming community of other scholars from across the state. 

The benefits of attending the Governor’s Scholars Program, or GSP for short, go beyond scholarship opportunities. However, students named Governor’s Scholars are granted specific scholarship benefits at every Kentucky college. For instance, at the University of Kentucky, scholars can be considered for the KY GSP Presidential Scholarship which awards full in-state tuition, given they meet the certain requirements. Attending the Governor’s Scholars Program is worth so much more than the scholarship money. You have the opportunity to make lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories over the course of five weeks this summer. GSP gives you a real glimpse into the college experience, which includes being independent, meeting new people from diverse backgrounds, living dorm life with a roommate, eating meals in the dining hall, navigating campus as a first-time student, and being in college-level classes with discussion-based activities. 

Traditional classes contain tedious assignments, millions of papers, and lecture-based teaching. However, classes at GSP couldn’t be more different. Classes are full of hands-on learning opportunities and creative ways to get you thinking outside the box. You have three classes: focus area, general studies, and seminar. Focus area is the equivalent of a major and is the class you’ll dedicate most of your studies to. My focus area was Communication and Social Theory, and during the first week of class, my classmates and I were tasked with building an object with Lego pieces, and then were told to write detailed instructions for someone else to recreate our innovation from scratch. My communications class also conducted an experiment on herd behavior and collaborated with the Journalism and Mass Media focus area to simulate a press conference on ethics and morality.

Next, general studies is similar to a minor or a second area of study on a smaller scale, and you’ll be assigned randomly to a class covering a wide variety of topics. My general studies was called “Game of Thrones,” and we studied British royal politics and the history of monarchies while simulating our own kingdoms, with royal politics playing a huge role in decision-making for the heir to the throne. Our class even conducted a coronation for the campus director in front of the entire program, practiced sword fighting with wooden swords, and constructed our own castles out of paper cards for an all-out marshmallow war between kingdoms.

Last but not least, seminar is led by the residence advisors and has always been difficult for most GSP alumni to describe. It’s a designated time for scholars to discuss their struggles, experiences, hopes, and goals, and really allows students to grow and widen their perspective and understanding of the world around them. The themes in seminar included diversity, college, relationships, etc. Seminar was really about learning to feel comfortable enough to express your emotions and life experiences, without fear of judgment or criticism. The Governor’s Scholars Program goes beyond the traditional criteria for learning and presents academic topics in a fun and engaging way, while also enabling scholars to grow emotionally and intellectually. 

From Taylor Swift Fan Club to Zumba, there was an array of activities for everyone to enjoy in their free time. Almost every club imaginable was offered, including creative writing, juggling, soccer, capture the flag, recycling, origami, student government (where they had actual cases and trials, defense and prosecution, witnesses, and juries), meditation, Bible Study, etc. In addition, the Governor’s Scholars Program held several events each week, ranging from sunset sing-alongs to scholar family feud to even silent disco dance parties. I always had the best time with my friends, whether we were enjoying the star party at midnight or showing our competitive side on Trivia Night. 

Via my Instagram @bailey.darbro: “Thank you @kygovscholars for 5 weeks filled with unforgettable memories, countless laughs, and friends that’ll last a lifetime. I’ll forever cherish all the finger hearts, kindness notes, Einstein’s bagels, friendship bracelets, card games, and dance parties. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to live in the along with. My heart is scattered across Kentucky.” 

Juniors, I cannot urge you enough to apply. Apply for the lifelong friendships, for the experience of a lifetime, for a new perspective going into your senior year, for a chance to experience what college is really like, for the scholarship opportunities, and for the opportunity to grow and develop as an individual. Apply to experience the best five weeks of your life this summer. 

Reach out to Mrs. Bell in the counselor’s office if you’re interested in applying. 

For more information on this prestigious opportunity, visit the official GSP website: Welcome to Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program – Governor’s Scholars Program.