Student News

2024 Gaines Student Fellows announced

The 2024 cohort of students represent a number of colleges across campus.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 2, 2024) — The University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities has announced the selection of 12 outstanding undergraduate students for the Gaines Fellowship Program. This highly competitive and prestigious program selects 12 UK students each academic year. 

The Gaines Fellowship Program was founded in 1984 thanks to a generous gift from John and Joan Gaines. It aims to recognize exceptional academic achievement, independent research capabilities, commitment to public issues and a passion for deepening the understanding of the human condition through the humanities.

The Gaines Fellowship in the Humanities offers a unique two-year journey of discovery that unites students and faculty from various academic fields.

“I want to acknowledge the hard work and difficult decisions made by our volunteer faculty selection committee led by Chelsea Brislin. This was a record year for Gaines applications and every one of them was stellar,” said Richard H. Schein, acting director of the Gaines Center for the Humanities. “We are excited by our new cohort and their impressive credentials. We are proud that they represent the diversity of disciplines, perspectives, and experiences that are the hallmark of our humanities program.”

The 2024 cohort of students represent the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Design, College of Education, College of Fine Arts, the Gatton College of Business and Economics and the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. 

The 2024 Gaines Fellows are: 

  • Botshelo Angoma, psychology and agriculture and biomedical technology double major
  • Maria Natalia Arenas Flores, biology major, creative writing minor, Chellgren Fellow
  • Maria Carey, neuroscience and modern and classical languages, literatures and cultures double major
  • Caleb Dotson, psychology and neuroscience double major. Earning a a certificate in the College of Social work in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Danielle Ferriell, psychology major, statistics minor
  • Beaux Hardin, English major, creative writing and French minors, Lewis Honors College, Chellgren Fellow
  • Chase Myers, psychology major, writing, rhetoric and digital studies minor, Lewis Honors College
  • Kauner Shacklette, architecture major, certificate in historic preservation, Lewis Honors College
  • Faith Sammons,: theatre and digital media design double major, Spanish and vocal performance double minor, Lewis Honors College
  • Amica Snow, elementary education major, political science minor, Lewis Honors College, Chellgren Fellow
  • Marc Vazsonyi, economics major, mathematics minor
  • Natalie Williams, English major, vocal music performance and Appalachian studies double minor

UK sophomore Maria Natalia Arenas Florez expressed her gratitude for being selected.

“Being awarded the Gaines Fellowship is a tremendous honor," she said. "This fellowship will not only provide me with a community of like-minded individuals, but also offer the opportunity to cultivate lasting friendships and professional relationships.”  

Kauner Shacklette, a UK sophomore, echoed that gratitude as well.

“As a first-generation student, the Gaines Fellowship is symbolic of the fact that anything is possible when you are determined," Shacklette said. "I hope the experience helps me explore the relationship between humans and their understanding of the world through architecture. Humanities are all about people and I hope to interact with a diverse group of individuals, whether that be other fellows, artists or public officials.”

Successful applicants will make a two-year (four semester) commitment to the program, and while all Gaines students are expected to participate in the Center's activities throughout the fellowship, benefits and expectations vary by cohort and progress to completion.

Any student at UK 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. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.