UK HealthCare

Markey Announces First Cohort of High School Students for ACTION Program

Formerly known as CTOP, the ACTION Program now provides educational opportunities to both college undergrads and high schoolers.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 7, 2019) – Through a multimillion-dollar grant from the National Cancer Institute, the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center recently expanded its successful Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program to include high school students from Appalachian Kentucky counties.

The ACTION Program offers Appalachian Kentucky high school students the opportunity to gain cancer research, clinical, outreach and educational experiences that will enrich their interest in pursuing a future cancer-focused career. 

After reviewing more than 90 applications for the program, a Markey committee has selected the following 20 high school students to enroll in the program for the 2019 class. These students will participate in the program for a total of two years beginning with a five-week summer residential program on UK’s campus starting Sunday, June 9, 2019. 


Bath County

Shahid Jabbar, Bath County High School  


Carter County

Nolan Marcum, East Carter High School

Solomon Patton, West Carter High School

Brianna Reyes, East Carter High School

Ethan Tiller, East Carter High School  


Clay County

Rachel Collins, Clay County High School  


Elliott County

Natalie Barker, Elliott County High School

Kinley Lewis, Elliott County High School



Garrard County

Abigail Isaacs, Garrard County High School  


Laurel County

Kaitlin Schumaker, North Laurel High School  


Lawrence County

Haleigh Thompson, Lawrence County High School



Letcher County

William Adams, Letcher County High School

Zachary Hall, Letcher County High School

Julie Kiser, Letcher County High School


Pulaski County

Megan Schlosser, Pulaski County High School


Rowan County

Andrew Davison, Rowan County High School

Holly Dickens, Rowan County High School


Russell County

Alyviah Newby, Russell County High School


Whitley County

Katelyn Nigro, Whitley County High School

Spencer Shelton, Whitley County High School


“We are beyond excited to begin working with our inaugural cohort of ACTION high school students,” said Nathan Vanderford, director of the ACTION Program and assistant professor in the UK College of Medicine.

“In reviewing applications, what stands out to me is how intelligent these students are and how excited they are to have an opportunity to engage in our program. Importantly, it is interesting to see how aware the students are about how dramatically they are impacted by cancer and other disparities that are so great in the Appalachian Kentucky region. We are ready to provide a life-changing experience to these students that will have a lifelong impact on the students, their families, and their communities.”


Kristin O'Leary
UK undergrad Kristin O'Leary, a participant in the ACTION program, studying acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the lab.