LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 13, 2013) — UK freshman Jon Fish's mother called him several months ago when he was still in high school in Finchville, Ky., to alert him that his ACT score had arrived in the mail. He told her not to tell him what it was — he wasn't near a computer to access the scores himself, and he was too nervous to hear them.
"No," she responded. "You want to hear what it is."
It was a 36. That's swagger.
Fish, one of nine in the Fall 2013 class with a perfect ACT or SAT score, now joins the 24 other perfect-score students on the UK campus; this first-year class has more than any other class before him. That's not, however, the only record his class has broken. It also boasts the largest-ever number of students scoring between 28 and 36 as well as between 31 and 36 on the ACT.
"Of course I was really pleased," Fish said. "A lot of people I know were trying to go to out-of-state schools, but the atmosphere at UK showed me that that I could get just as good an education and still be loyal to my state. Also, my mom went to UK, and both of my brothers are at UK right now. We have a history here."
He and his classmates are also making history. With 105 national Merit, National Achievement and National Hispanic Finalists enrolled in this first-year class, up from 71 last year, UK gained a spot among the top 15 public institutions in the country in this category. UK also awarded more Singletary Scholarships than ever before to students like Cleveland-native Donald Venus, who also scored perfectly on his ACT.
"Getting a perfect score, obviously, was really great, but I still wanted to look for scholarships," Venus said. "I was looking at the computer, and I found the Singletary Scholarship. When I got in contact with some of the admissions counselors here, they were really friendly compared to the other schools I was considering. I felt like I had a real personal connection with the people working here, and it's a huge deal to be a Singletary. The scholarship is great — just an incredible offer you can't turn down."
President Eli Capilouto recognized Fish; Venus; Jenna Garofolo, a chemistry junior from Butler, Ky.; and Samuel Saarinen, a pre-computer science, mathematics and physics junior from Shelbyville, Ky., who also earned perfect ACT/SAT scores, at the UK Board of Trustees meeting on Sept, 10, 2013. He commented that the record-breaking class is a testament to the quality of students the university is recruiting.
It is also an exciting indicator of the legacy the class will leave on campus. Another student with a perfect score, this one on his SAT, is already proving that: UK Student Government President Roshan Palli is crafting his legacy right now — especially with the impact he is making on campus.
A Singletary Scholar, UK Honors Program member and Chellgren Fellow, Palli is also an officer of the Economics Society, a campus tour guide, a Wildcat Ambassador and a member of the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity. Before being elected Student Government president, he participated in the SGA Leadership Development Program, serving as president of his class, and was the chair of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, which oversaw the appropriation of $130,000 in funds to various student organizations.
That's also swagger.
"It's a great time to be at this university," Palli said. "With the exciting transformation the institution is undergoing, I know my experience has been incredible, and it will only be better for the students just now starting at UK. It's great to see such a strong incoming freshman class."
The freshman class within the UK Honors Program will be stronger this year too, as the class has expanded from about 250 to more than 400 students.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed Honors," Palli said. "My Honors classes focused a lot more on cultural awareness and thinking deeper thoughts, more in-depth thinking than the logical processes I use in most of my other classes, so that has been great. It’s also different from normal classes because we do it in a Socratic style, so it's discussion-based. I think the experience of being in Honors has really allowed me to grow intellectually."
The Honors Program recently developed a Living Learning Community in the new residence hall, Central Hall. UK has built the number of Living Learning Communities to 13 over the past 24 years and expects to grow that number to 19 by next fall. Palli said improvements such as this have incited a new feeling of enthusiasm and excitement among the student body.
"The university has a lot of momentum, and we're just going to keep moving forward," Palli said.
"Two years ago we directed President Capilouto to make strengthening the undergraduate experience a top priority for the university," said UK Board Chairman Britt Brockman. "With his steadfast commitment and determined leadership — along with the strong support of the board and the entire campus — it has been a priority and today underscores once again the tangible results we are achieving for the university and for the Commonwealth we serve."
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