MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University has named Claire Ghent and Cole Manion as the Outstanding Seniors for fall 2019. Students recognized with this honor are known for going above and beyond what is expected of them academically and professionally.

Ghent, this fall’s Outstanding Senior Woman, is the daughter of Mark and Jan Ghent of Miramar, Florida. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English education in December 2019.

“A place is only as great as those who occupy it, and Murray State is truly a special place for me because of the multitude of faculty members who have dedicated their lives to the education and wellbeing of myself and so many other students,” Ghent said. “I could never be thankful enough to those professors and peers who motivated me to fall in love with literature and teaching, pushed me to be my best self, and inspired me to affect the lives of others. To me, this award represents all the hard work of the many little communities, composed of professors and students alike, in which I was involved at Murray State.”

Claire Ghent

A student of the University’s Honors College, Ghent has served in leadership roles and as a member across several campus and state organizations. She serves as president of the Murray State chapter of the National Council for Teachers of English, where she was previously vice president. Ghent is also a member of the Kentucky Council for Teachers of English and Murray State Intercollegiate Hunt Seat Equestrian team as well as a moderator of the Kentucky Council for Teachers of English Annual Conference. Additionally, she served as a peer tutor for Murray State Student Disability Services for two years. 

Ghent studied abroad in Alicante, Spain, from January to June 2016, where she completed coursework in British and medieval literature and Spanish language/culture. She received her high school diploma equivalent at Dean Close School in Cheltenham, United Kingdom, where she earned As in English literature, psychology, philosophy and ethics and biology.

Ghent is currently teaching English literature and language at Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico in San Roman, Belize, where she also hosts classroom workshops on cultural education. She has worked as a student teacher at Calloway County High School and completed the Uncommon Schools Summer Teaching Fellowship in Brooklyn, New York, over the summer. She currently serves as a writing consultant at the Racer Writing Center.

Manion is the son of Tommy and Lori Manion of Clarkson, Kentucky. He will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in political science/pre-professional legal studies in December 2019.

“It is a tremendous honor to be named as the Outstanding Senior Man for this fall’s graduating class,” Manion said. “It is sad that my time at Murray State is coming to an end, but my experience has been overwhelmingly wonderful. The people that make up this University and surrounding community have made a positive impact on me that will last for the rest of my life and I hope to be able to have that same impact on someone else after I leave. I sincerely appreciate this award and hope to live up to the legacy of those who have been given it before me.”

Cole Manion

Also the 2019 Murray State Outstanding Senior in Pre-Law and fellow member of the Honors College, Manion has been active on campus through the Racer men’s golf team — where he served as the team’s representative to the Campus Student Athlete Advisory Committee from 2017-19 — the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Student Athlete Advisory Committee and as a student member of the OVC Governance Structure.

Manion is a member of three honor societies, including Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Sigma Alpha and Chi Alpha Sigma.

Additionally, Manion has studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and served as the College of Humanities and Fine Arts academic college senator for the Murray State Student Government Association.

From 2016-18, Manion worked as a Junior Tour Labor Force member with the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour in Louisville, Kentucky, where he assisted in coordinating junior golf tournaments throughout the state.

The December 2019 commencement ceremony will take place Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. in the CFSB Center. Use #RacerGraduation on social media to share your commencement experience. Additional information about the ceremony and a live stream link are available at

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