MURRAY, Ky. — More than 100 rising high school seniors from across the region arrived at Murray State University June 8 for the 19th Commonwealth Honors Academy.

The three-week academy features class meetings and a cookout. Participants take college-level courses in interdisciplinary humanities and electives, take part in service learning and attend multiple lectures, concerts, field trips and forums from June 8-29.

With a theme of “Leave Great Footprints,” students representing 31 Kentucky counties will study themes ranging from social justice to history in their interdisciplinary humanities classes, and they will study themes ranging from criminal justice to journalism to design thinking in their electives.

Each student takes one interdisciplinary humanities course and one elective. Students also participate in personal growth seminars led by Murray State students who were chosen as residential counselors.

During the academy, students will travel to St. Louis to see “Love’s Labour Lost” and tour the St. Louis Art Museum. Students also will participate in an elective enrichment day in which they will engage in service learning projects.

Students receive six hours of college credit during the academy. After completing CHA, students will earn a $2,000 per year Murray State housing scholarship and an opportunity to take six additional hours of Murray State classes tuition-free.

CHA faculty were chosen from area high schools and from Murray State. Faculty members are Constance Alexander, Andy Black, Marvin Denison, Taylor Clements, Laurie Edminster, Lissa Graham, Katy Hancock, Aaron Irvin, Glenn Leckie, Diane Nititham and Leigh Wright.

Murray State’s Dr. Danielle Nielsen serves as the academic dean, and Jeff Wylie serves as the student life dean. Jeff Watson serves as the counseling director, and Anna Gorsick is the activities director. Lori Rogers is the administrative assistant.

“We are excited to welcome so many talented students to Murray State for this year’s Commonwealth Honors Academy,” said Nielsen, an associate professor of English in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. “The program provides an excellent opportunity for high school students to engage with college-level material, experience the campus environment, and begin their senior year of high school with college credit.”

Murray State students serving as residential counselors are Julianne Gnadinger, Ramon Guzman-Garcia, Lucas Morgan, Gin Sisemore, Gabrielle Wadle and Yasmin Zarate. Office workers are Catherine Elleman, Bethany Massey and Mariah Smith.

The Commonwealth Honors Academy has a mission to “challenge, educate, enlighten, and nurture the next generation of academic, civic, and business leaders in the region.” To qualify, students must have a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale and earn an ACT score of 25. For more information or to apply for the 2020 class, visit

Photo: More than 100 rising high school seniors from across the region will arrive at Murray State University June 8 for the 19th Commonwealth Honors Academy.

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