Instead of spending her senior year at Eminence High School, Kassidy Dees enrolled in the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. Her experiences at the academy led to not only academic growth, but personal growth as well.
“I felt that I was at a standstill at Eminence High School. I wasn’t being challenged enough,” Dees said. “I thought this was a great opportunity to take advantage of ... the next step in my life instead of sitting around and not really doing anything my senior year.”
The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science admits 60 students per year from across the state, according to Dees. Students are required to move to Bowling Green and live in an on-campus residence hall specifically for academy students. The change of lifestyle from home life to dorm life and having a roommate helped Dees learn to remove herself from situations and to look at the big picture, she said.
Students also are required to take college and academy courses focused on mathematics and science along with electives, take part in a research project of choice, complete 30 community service hours and maintain a 2.5 GPA.
“The biggest difference by far was that I never had to study in high school. In college, I had to learn how to study, take notes, to do everything. It just wasn’t simple memorization anymore,” she said.
Dees was apprehensive about giving up her senior year at EHS and moving to Bowling Green, but her friends and family were supportive, she said. Getting a jumpstart on a college education has proved beneficial to Dees and other academy students.
“I went in as a 4.0 GPA student and I made a 79 percent on my first biology test and it felt like the world stopped spinning,” she said. “I learned how to fail and that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I learned how to use that for positive motivation.”
Dees will attend the University of Kentucky in the fall as an architecture and interior design double major. She has already earned a cumulative 34 credit hours and thus achieved sophomore status as an incoming freshman.
“It’s a great opportunity. I wouldn’t have changed anything, it really prepared me for the future,” she said. “It opened my eyes on where I want to go in the future.”
Ballard Metcalf, a sophomore at EHS, was among 60 students from 44 counties across Kentucky admitted for the academy’s upcoming class of 2010.
Other students desiring to get involved can visit www.wku.edu/academy for more information.
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