Student News

Gaines Center names 12 new scholars

2023 Gains Fellows.
2023 Gaines Fellows.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 30, 2023) — The University of Kentucky Gaines Center for Humanities has selected 12 exceptional undergraduates as new scholars for the university's Gaines Fellowship Program for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 academic years.

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 is designed to enrich the study of the humanities at UK and functions as a laboratory for imaginative and innovative education on UK’s campus. 

Gaines Fellowships are awarded for the tenure of a student's junior and senior years, or for the last two years of a five-year program.

This year’s cohort of scholars represent five different colleges on campus including: the College of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentCollege of Arts and Sciences, the College of Design, the College of Fine Arts and the Gatton College of Business and Economics.

UK’s 12 new Gaines Fellows are:

  • Anna Benton, Louisville, Kentucky, dance and arts administration major;
  • Ella Brown-Terry, Murray, Kentucky, English and anthropology major, French minor, Lewis Honors student;
  • Lucas Carlos de Lima, Avaré, Brazil, architecture major, undergraduate certificate in historic preservation;
  • Alycie Caya, Columbia, Illinois, international economics and foreign language major, environmental and sustainability studies minor, Lewis Honors student;
  • Mariana Escobedo de la Peña, Guatemala City, Guatemala, sociology/gender and women's studies major;
  • Timihia Murphy, Louisville, landscape architecture major;
  • James Overly, Brentwood, Tennessee, biology and neuroscience major, psychology minor;
    Alyssah Robinson, Louisville, history and African American and Africana studies major;
  • Daniela Rodriguez Soto, Heredia, Costa Rica, management and marketing major, international business minor;
  • Diksha Satish, Frankfort, Kentucky, biology and mathematics major, Lewis Honors student;
  • Avery Schanbacher, Versailles, Kentucky, music and English major; and
  • Brenna Staser, Henderson, Kentucky, English and philosophy major, Lewis Honors student.

All Gaines Fellows are required to take a specially designed, four-credit hours per semester seminar in the humanities during both semesters of their junior year. In addition, each junior fellow must complete a jury project, planning and optionally carrying out an improvement for a local community. In the senior year, each fellow must complete a major independent study project of six to 15 credit hours. At the conclusion of this project, a thesis paper must be submitted and defended in front of a thesis committee of three university faculty members and the director of the Gaines Center.

In addition to the course requirements, Gaines Fellows enjoy a rich program of field trips, lectures and other activities designed to widen and deepen their educational experience.

The students chosen as Gaines Fellows are excited for the incredible experience the fellowship will bring them. 

“I feel extremely thankful for this opportunity, and words cannot describe how grateful I am,” Mariana Escobedo de la Peña said. “I am very excited for this new experience that will help me grow personally and academically and will help me in my path for achieving my career goals.” 

“The entering class of Gaines Fellows were chosen through a highly competitive process. They represent all the best qualities of university students at the University of Kentucky,” said Melynda Price, director of the Gaines Center. “They are curious, hardworking and committed to being of service in the world. Their immersion in the humanities study over the next two years will only amplify these qualities in the students and one day the community.”

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.