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4 Gatton Academy students win State Department language scholarships

Four Gatton Academy students have been offered the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships. From left: Meredith Bickett of Owensboro, India Blasser of Henderson, Sam Booth of Owensboro and Rena Ryumae of Union.

Four Gatton Academy students have been offered National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships. From left: Meredith Bickett of Owensboro, India Blasser of Henderson, Sam Booth of Owensboro and Rena Ryumae of Union.

Four students at The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky at WKU have been offered nationally competitive scholarships for immersive language study this summer. This number of language scholarships marks the most in The Gatton Academy’s eight-year history.

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and offer complete funding for the six-to-eight week programs. This funding includes a four-day orientation in Washington, D.C., travel to-and-from the host countries, housing with host families, meals, and all activities and fees. NSLI-Y scholarships are merit-based and for high-achieving secondary school students to learn critical languages through immersion.

The students, all seniors at The Gatton Academy, are: Meredith Bickett of Owensboro, India Blasser of Henderson, Sam Booth of Owensboro and Rena Ryumae of Union.

”We are very excited for our students to have the opportunity to continue their language studies in such an intense and beneficial way. Their dedication to mastery of another language while taking rigorous coursework in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is remarkable,” said Dr. Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Gatton Academy.

Meredith Bickett

Meredith Bickett

Gatton Academy senior Meredith Bickett, the daughter of Gary and Karen Bickett of Owensboro, will use her NSLI-Y scholarship to travel to Morocco to further her Arabic studies. Bickett is a part of The Gatton Academy’s STEM + Arabic curricular track. This intensive curriculum allows students to pair an Arabic course each semester with the STEM curriculum required by The Gatton Academy. Bickett is completing her fourth level of Arabic study through WKU’s Department of Modern Languages.

Since being at The Gatton Academy, Bickett has also participated in knot theory research with Dr. Claus Ernst of WKU Mathematics. She has also studied abroad with The Gatton Academy in England and Costa Rica.

India Blasser

India Blasser

Gatton Academy senior India Blasser, the daughter of Michael and Phyllis Blasser of Henderson, will be traveling to Moldova with her NSLI-Y award to further her knowledge of the Russian language and culture. To date, Blasser has studied two levels of collegiate Russian through the WKU Department of Modern Languages.

While at The Gatton Academy, Blasser has conducted biochemistry research with Dr. Moon-Soo Kim of the WKU Department of Chemistry. Additionally, she has studied abroad with The Gatton Academy in England.

Sam Booth

Sam Booth

Gatton Academy senior Sam Booth, the son of Thomas and Robin Booth of Owensboro, will use his NSLI-Y scholarship as he travels to South Korea to further his Korean studies. To date, Booth has been independently studying Korean through online resources.

At The Gatton Academy, Booth has been involved with knot theory research with WKU Mathematics professor Dr. Claus Ernst. Booth was a Gatton Research Internship Grant recipient in the summer of 2014. He also studied abroad with The Gatton Academy in England.

Rena Ryumae

Rena Ryumae

Gatton Academy senior Rena Ryumae, the daughter of Masaru and Kyong Ryumae of Union, earned the NSLI-Y scholarship to travel to South Korea. While Ryumae will decline the NSLI-Y award, she will be spending 10 weeks this summer in South Korea as a researcher. She will travel with WKU Chemistry’s Dr. Moon-Soo Kim and intern through a National Science Foundation grant. During her travels, Ryumae will study with Dr. Kim and collaborate with South Korean researchers to develop a point-of-care diagnostic for pathogen detection. Her work will take place at Pusan National University in Busan, South Korea.

While at The Gatton Academy, Ryumae has been a student researcher with WKU Chemistry’s Dr. Rajalingam Dakshinamurthy. During summers, she has interned as a student researcher at the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center.

“This year’s success rate is due to many factors, not least being the talented pool of Gatton Academy students who vied for the NSLI-Y awards this year,” said Assistant Director of Academic Services Derick Strode. “The Gatton Academy also enjoyed the support of WKU’s Office of Scholar Development and our shared intern, Kari Paschetto, as we collectively coached students through their application process in the fall.”

About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential high school for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named the number one public high school in the United States by The Daily Beast for three consecutive years – 2012, 2013 and 2014. Contact: Zack Ryle, (270) 745-2971.

About the Office of Scholar Development: The Office of Scholar Development is committed to helping WKU students in all majors and degree programs develop the vision, experience and skills to be independent, engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in nationally competitive scholarships. Contact: Dr. Audra Jennings, (270) 745-5043.

Contact: Zack Ryle, (270) 745-2971

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