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69 students graduate in Gatton Academy’s Class of 2013

Celebration of Commencement Weekend at WKU continued Saturday as The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky celebrated the graduation of its Class of 2013.

The Gatton Academy recognized its sixth graduating class on May 11 at Van Meter Hall. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

The Gatton Academy recognized its sixth graduating class on May 11 at Van Meter Hall. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

Sixty-nine students representing 51 counties from across the Commonwealth were recognized during the ceremony in Van Meter Hall. The ceremony honored the Gatton Academy’s sixth graduating class.

Gatton Academy Executive Director Dr. Julia Roberts expressed that the graduation ceremony was a celebration for the entire Commonwealth.

“The Gatton Academy brings joy and promise to the Commonwealth,” Dr. Roberts said. “In its sixth year, students have demonstrated their interests in STEM and talent for learning at challenging levels. Congratulations to the graduates and to their parents.”

Gatton Academy Director Dr. Tim Gott shared his appreciation for the WKU faculty members in making the Gatton Academy both a challenging and rewarding experience for students.

“One of the main reasons for our success as a school is the rich partnership with WKU professors. The ability to take the lid off of curricular options for students allows them to pursue STEM content to the highest levels,” Dr. Gott said. “In addition to the depth of courses, our students have been able to conduct research alongside these professors and have gained insights into the STEM disciplines that could not happen in a traditional environment.”

Ninety-four percent of seniors participated in faculty-sponsored research during their time at the Academy. Research accomplishments include a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner and honorable mention, four National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and two National Science Foundation International Research Experiences for Scientists in Taiwan.

Senate President Robert Stivers delivered graduation remarks. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

Senate President Robert Stivers delivered graduation remarks. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

State Sen. Robert Stivers II, President of the Kentucky Senate, delivered the commencement address. Sen. Stivers is the father of Gatton Academy alumnus Caroline Stivers.

Sen. Stivers challenged the students to continue to strive for excellence. “You came with potential and you blossomed,” he said. “Go out, find your piece of the world, and change it.”

Kesi Neblett, a graduating senior from Russellville, reminded her fellow graduates of the friendships that they have made and challenges they have overcome together during their time at the Gatton Academy.

“We found much more than academic shelter and personal enlightenment, we found a home creating friends that we can truly call family,” said Neblett. “We took the hits, and together, we made it here. Together we created an exhilarating bond that connects us psychologically, academically, and physically.”

Neblett’s sentiments were echoed by David Brown, a graduating senior from Central City, who spoke of the academic rigor of the Gatton Academy and support from his classmates.

“Over the past couple of weeks, I have talked with or listened to many of you reminiscing about our time here. And, in some form or fashion, one thing always seemed to come up: it was hard,” Brown said. “Looking back on it all, one may wonder how we did it. But I think it’s pretty obvious: we did it together.”

Gatton Academy students take advanced coursework in mathematics, science and other subjects completing both their high school and Gatton Academy requirements. On average, Gatton students earned more than 70 hours of college credit. Dr. Gott recognized how the academic challenges of the Gatton Academy have prepared the Class of 2013 for their future endeavors.

“By choosing to come to the Gatton Academy, these students have embraced one of the most rigorous high school curriculums possible. In doing so, they have had to learn new strategies to be academically successful,” Dr. Gott said. “This has led to an expanded skill set that will equip them for success in any college environment. Most importantly, they will move on to be ambassadors for Kentucky in their chosen fields as they continue to pursue a path of excellence.”

In the fall of 2013, students from the graduating class will attend 20 schools across the United States: University of Alabama in Huntsville, Bellarmine University, Belmont University, Berry College, University of California at Santa Barbara, Columbia University, Duke University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, John Hopkins University, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Morehead State University, University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Southern Methodist University, Stanford University, Transylvania University, Washington University in St. Louis, and WKU.  Two-thirds of graduates plan to attend college in Kentucky with 19 continuing their studies at WKU. Four-year scholarships totaling more than $12 million were offered to the graduating class with more than $4 million in scholarships accepted.

More: Additional photos are available on the WKU Facebook page.

The members of the Class of 2013

  • Barren County: Victoria Cain, a graduate with honors.
  • Boone County: Akhil Ghanta; Leonard Ivey; Shane Masuda; Austin Merchant; Hannah Pennington, a graduate with distinction; Paige Volpenhein, a graduate with distinction.
  • Bourbon County: Erica Plummer, a graduate with honors.
  • Boyle County: Cecily Allen; Nicholas Fedorka; Mary Spraggs, a graduate with honors.
  • Breckinridge County: William “Blake” Hawley, a graduate with distinction.
  • Bullitt County: Erica Johnson, a graduate with honors.
  • Butler County: Alonna Ballinger.
  • Carroll County: Linda Cruz, a graduate with distinction.
  • Carter County: John Biechele-Speziale, a graduate with honors.
  • Christian County: Kathleen Bell, a graduate with honors; Devin Wright.
  • Cumberland County: Gabriel Smith, a graduate with honors.
  • Daviess County: Dixa Patel, a graduate with honors; Madison Preece.
  • Elliott County: Barry Blair.
  • Estill County: Natascha Richardson, a graduate with distinction; Matthew Ruffner.
  • Fayette County: Samuel Dong; Lauren Shields; Ethan Smith; Alexandra Sunnenberg, a graduate with honors.
  • Floyd County: Wade Vierheller.
  • Franklin County: Garrett Barnes; Sibi Rajendran, a graduate with distinction.
  • Greenup County: Catherine “Paige” Sloas; Henry Uradu.
  • Hardin County: Nathaniel Serpico.
  • Hart County: Leslie Wilson.
  • Henderson County: Ellen Green; Alison Jones, a graduate with honors.
  • Hopkins County: Roxanne Coburn, a graduate with honors; Chiraag Kapadia, a graduate with distinction.
  • Jefferson County: Lindsey Burke, a graduate with distinction.
  • Kenton County: Miranda Cruse, a graduate with honors; William Storrs.
  • Lincoln County: Meghan Hall, a graduate with distinction.
  • Logan County: Charvinia “Kesi” Neblett, a graduate with distinction.
  • Mason County: Duncan Wood, a graduate with distinction.
  • Marion County: Anna “Gabrielle” Hamilton, a graduate with distinction.
  • Meade County: Leah Cannady, a graduate with distinction; Meaghan Dunn.
  • Menifee County: William Roach-Barrette.
  • McCracken County: Eileen Doan, a graduate with honors; Emily Gordon, a graduate with honors.
  • Montgomery County: Wayne Schmitt, a graduate with distinction
  • Muhlenberg County: David Brown, a graduate with distinction.
  • Nelson County: Miranda Parrish.
  • Nicholas County: Lara van der Heiden
  • Oldham County: Richard “Daulton” Cockerell, a graduate with distinction; Thomas Seibold, a graduate with honors.
  • Rockcastle County: Matthew Gonzalez, a graduate with honors.
  • Shelby County: Samuel Saarinen, a graduate with distinction.
  • Simpson County: Jeet Parekh, a graduate with distinction.
  • Spencer County: Adrian Gregory.
  • Taylor County: Jonathan Bailey, a graduate with distinction.
  • Todd County: William Johnson III, a graduate with distinction; Melissa Smith, a graduate with distinction.
  • Union County: Elizabeth Gatten, a graduate with distinction.
  • Warren County: Meredith Doughty; Ryan Gott, a graduate with distinction; Eva Gray-Jennings; Aaron Tagliaboschi.

*Graduates with honors are recognized from a cumulative Academy GPA of 3.4, participating in a two-semester research project, and completion of service requirements.

*Graduates with distinction are recognized from a cumulative Academy GPA of 3.7, participating in a two-semester research project, and completion of service requirements.

Contact: Chad Phillips, (270) 745-6565.

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