LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 13, 2020) — The University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities has selected 12 undergraduate students as new scholars for the Gaines Fellowship Program.
The Gaines Fellowship is presented in recognition of outstanding academic performance, demonstrated ability to conduct independent research, an interest in public issues and a desire to enhance understanding of the human condition through the humanities. Founded in 1984 by a generous gift from John and Joan Gaines, the Gaines Center for the Humanities functions as a laboratory for imaginative and innovative education on UK’s campus. The Gaines Center is designed to enrich the study of the humanities at the University of Kentucky.
This year’s scholars represent six different colleges on campus including: the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Communication and Information; the College of Education; the College of Fine Arts; and the Lewis Honors College.
UK’s 12 new Gaines Fellows are:
- Benjamin Cortas, of Louisville, Kentucky, an honors student majoring in physics and mathematics;
- Alex Davis, of Keller, Texas, majoring in equine science and management and pre-veterinary medicine;
- Lexi Gauger, of New Richmond, Ohio, an honors student majoring in sustainable agriculture and community food systems;
- Eva Grossi, of Lexington, an honors student majoring in arts administration and theatre;
- Natalie Harrington, of Franklin, Tennessee, an honors student majoring in secondary English education;
- Ellie Kinnicutt, of Lexington, an honors student majoring in communication and journalism;
- Braden Kirkpatrick, of Franklin, an honors student majoring in international studies and environmental and sustainability studies;
- Shelby McCubbin, of Lexington, an honors student majoring in neuroscience and minoring in gender and women’s studies;
- Olivia Morris-Bush, of Midway, Kentucky, majoring in political science and minoring in geography;
- Mary Sherman, of Peoria, Illinois, an honors student majoring in political science and Spanish;
- Teja Sudhaker, of Lexington, an honors student majoring in psychology and gender and women’s studies and minoring in creative writing; and
- Iyahna Wilson, of Concord, North Carolina, majoring in agriculture education.
Cortas was excited to get news of his selection for the fellowship. “I am honored and humbled to have been awarded the Gaines Fellowship. I am thrilled to be able to work alongside, and be inspired by, other young people in our pursuit to better understand the human condition. As someone involved in the sciences and mathematics with a deep appreciation of the humanities, I am excited to expand my horizons and lean into new experiences that this program will offer. I look forward to growing and collaborating with a group of young people with the same drive and passion that I have.”
As Gaines Fellows, these scholars are required to take a specially designed, four-credit hour per semester seminar during both semesters of their junior year. In addition, each junior fellow must complete a service project to benefit a community, whether it be campus, Lexington, the fellow's hometown, or a community further afield.
In their senior year, each fellow must complete a major independent study thesis project of six to 15 credit hours. The project must be submitted and defended in front of a thesis committee of three university faculty members and the director of the Gaines Center.
Any student at the University of Kentucky may apply for a Gaines Fellowship. Students in all disciplines and with any intended profession are given equal consideration. Any undergraduate demonstrating excellence in his or her undergraduate career is encouraged to apply. Applicants must have two years of planned undergraduate study remaining and must have an outstanding academic record.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.