High school students reflect on enlightening summer educational experience at Bellarmine

July 26, 2019

Kentucky's Governor’s Scholars Program, which is wrapping up this week on Bellarmine University’s campus, gave 342 participants new friendships, networking opportunities, community-building practices and a stress-free learning environment, according to several of the students.
The five students – all rising high school seniors – recently participated in a roundtable discussion to share their perspectives on the five-week summer residential learning experience:
  • Emma Keeling, Louisville, duPont Manual High School (college interests: health sciences, engineering)
  • Caleb Aridano, Crestwood, South Oldham High School (college interests: English, history)
  • John Paul Stegman, Prospect, Saint Xavier High School (college interest: architecture)
  • Chloe Walker, Mount Sterling, Montgomery County High School (college interest: mathematics)
  • Brexton Cromer, Mount Vernon, Rockcastle County High School (college interest: geology, paleontology)
“I think Bellarmine’s campus has been great for GSP,” said Keeling, who was excited to stay on campus because her father is a BU alumnus. “The modern buildings, like Centro, create an open learning environment that complements the GSP program. It’s built to centralize everyone with the quad in the middle and the residence halls arranged together. Bellarmine was built to create a community.”
Aridano said the Siena residential complex “concentrates all the scholars in one area to hang out and encourages you to meet more people.” He said Bellarmine’s traditional symbol of hospitality, the pineapple – found on the University’s coat of arms – is reflective of the friendly atmosphere shown throughout the campus.
“The pineapple is very fitting for Bellarmine because everyone from the Facilities Department to the University Dining Hall has been very nice to the students,” he said. “Bellarmine has been a very welcoming place.”
Stegman has enjoyed meeting students from across the state and exchanging differing views on a variety of topics. “It’s important to understand where people come from and their various ideas,” he said. “Through this experience, I have decided I want to be a more authentic person.”
He said he wants to take the program’s theme of seeing the world through new eyes back to his high school to share with others.
This summer, Stegman experienced something Bellarmine’s incoming first-year students will disover next month as they walk from residence halls to the quad. “The hill has gotten me some good calves,” he joked. “The hill has been rough, but good for me in the end.”
Walker said she has enjoyed spending time with friends in places such as Centro, the SuRF and the waterfall in the Sienna residential complex. “I really have enjoyed GSP,” she said. “It has been a mixture of fun and learning and just adapting to each other’s schedules. GSP has been a great place to grow – a place where you come together with people of differing ideas and political views. You learn how to handle yourself and GSP teaches you how to do this in a respectful and fashionable manner.”
The Governor’s Scholars Program has given Cromer a chance to network with other students, faculty and staff. “I’ve had a lot of good conversations,” he said. “GSP, as a whole, I think is a very positive experience.”
Cromer said the program has made him a better communicator. “GSP allows you to incorporate all facets into an interdisciplinary area,” he said. “The structure of Bellarmine’s campus helps with this and enforces the idea of community.”
The students said they’d encourage other students from their high schools to participate in the Governor’s Scholars Program in the future.  “I will be bringing back information about this program to my high school and encouraging more people to apply,” Aridano said.
The closing ceremony for this year’s students is Saturday, July 27, at 9 a.m.
The Governor’s Scholars Program originated in 1983 as a response to concerns that Kentucky's best and brightest students were leaving the Commonwealth to pursue educational and career opportunities elsewhere, without fully understanding the potential of their talents at home. The program’s mission is to enrich Kentucky’s next generation of leaders.
Article by Daniel Spitza, intern in Bellarmine's Office of Enrollment, Marketing and Communication

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