Home » 88 students graduate in the WKU Gatton Academy’s 11th class

88 students graduate in the WKU Gatton Academy’s 11th class

Class of 2018 graduation photo by Sam Oldenburg

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (May 14, 2018) — On Saturday, May 12, eighty-eight students representing forty-eight counties from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky were recognized during The Gatton Academy’s eleventh graduation ceremony in Van Meter Hall.

Gatton Academy Executive Director and Mahurin Professor of Gifted Education Dr. Julia Roberts expressed that the graduation ceremony was a celebration for Kentucky.

“A graduation ceremony at The Gatton Academy is really one for the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Roberts.  “I congratulate the graduates who are well on the path to being prepared to lead Kentucky in the future.”

Gatton Academy Director Dr. Lynette Breedlove shared her praise for the graduating seniors and her gratitude for the WKU faculty and staff members in making The Gatton Academy both a rewarding and challenging educational experience for Kentucky.

“Graduating from The Gatton Academy is a notable achievement.  Our students seize opportunities to dive into curriculum and research experiences.  I am proud of how they have persevered,” said Breedlove.  “I am exceptionally grateful for the commitment of the WKU faculty and staff who have opened their classrooms, offices and laboratories to provide our students with so many remarkable opportunities which has prepared them for infinite possibilities.”

Nineteen members of the class were selected as National Merit finalists, five seniors earned National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships, and four students were recognized as semifinalists in the Siemens competition. 86 percent of the class participated in faculty-sponsored research during their time at the Academy, and fifteen graduates completed the school’s STEM + Critical Languages curriculum in either Arabic or Chinese. 95 percent of the senior class studied abroad while at The Gatton Academy.  The graduating class completed a total of 5,390.5 hours of service during their two years at The Gatton Academy, which is an average of 61.25 hours per senior.

Olivia Gilliam, a graduating senior from Madisonville, reflected on how each student found their identity over the past 2 years.

“The most valuable thing we possess is our identity. For many of us, we spent the majority of our younger years being known as the smart kid,” said Gilliam.  “In coming to Gatton, we were no longer the smart kid, but a smart kid.  We were able to become who we wanted to be…our true identity.  From spending all of our money on India Oven and hosting 2K tournaments on our wings to trading cryptocurrency in the computer lab and watching movies in the den every Friday night.  We relinquished the identities that were given to us and replaced them with priceless personalities.  Thank you, Class of 2018!”

Hood Harris delivered the commencement address.  Mr. Harris is the president of AT&T Kentucky and his words centered on the future for each of the graduates in the room.

“We heard earlier today that you all could change the world,” said Mr. Harris.  “I want to say that it is not just that you can make a difference, but that you must make a difference and you will make a difference in our world.  You are going to be the basis on which this world becomes a better place.”

While reflecting on her Gatton career, Frankfort senior Niki Rajendran looked at not only the firsts the group had experienced together, but also those events that marked lasts.

“One day we’ll have our last school test, our last time scheduling classes on TopNet. One day we’ll have our last wild Friday night exploring campus with the people we’ve made a million memories with. One day we’ll lock our rooms, return our keys and walk out of those doors at Schneider for the last time as students. One day we’ll be standing in alphabetical order in caps and gowns with the people who have become our family. All of these people that will likely never be all together in the same room again. That day is today, and I couldn’t be more thankful that it was with you guys.”

In the fall of 2018, students from the graduating class will attend 32 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada: University of Alabama in Huntsville, Arizona State University, Baylor University, Case Western Reserve University, Centre College, College of Charleston, University of Chicago, University of Cincinnati, Columbia University, Eckerd College, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Maryland-College Park, McGill University, Michigan State University, University of Mississippi, Northeastern University, The Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Pennsylvania, Purdue University, University of Southern California, Stanford University, Tulane University, University of Virginia, Washington University in St. Louis, Western Kentucky University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.  Three students will also be participating in GAP year programs prior to continuing their education. 


Members of The Gatton Academy’s Class of 2018

Allen County

  • Olivia Hawkins (Allen County-Scottsville High School)
  • Grace Jones (Allen County-Scottsville High School)

Anderson County

  • Austin Gabhart (Anderson County High School)*

Ballard County

  • Jonnah McManus (Ballard Memorial High School)*

Barren County

  • Robert Sims Alexander (Glasgow High School)

Boone County

  • Margaret “Maggie” Cook (Larry A. Ryle High School)*
  • Jeraan Fernando (Larry A. Ryle High School)*
  • Janki Pooja Naidugari (Randall K. Cooper High School)*
  • Ken Ryumae (Larry A. Ryle High School)*
  • Morganne Williams (Randall K. Cooper High School)*

Boyd County

  • Wren Jenkins (Paul G. Blazer High School)

Breckinridge County

  • Keeley Ruskowski (Breckinridge County High School)*

Bullitt County

  • Margaret “Maggie” Lewis (Bullitt Central High School)*

Butler County

  • Patton Allen (Butler County High School)

Caldwell County

  • Tige Littlefield (Caldwell County High School)

Calloway County

  • Yik “Henry” Kwan (Calloway County High School)*

Campbell County

  • Natalie Reed (Highlands High School)*
  • Carly Taylor (Campbell County High School)*

Casey County

  • Emma Moore (Casey County High School)*

Christian County

  • Deeya Patel (University Heights Academy)*

Clark County

  • Harper Sewalls (Model Laboratory School)*

Daviess County

  • Olivia Bickett (Apollo High School)
  • Piper Cannon (Daviess County High School)
  • Benjamin Conkright (Owensboro Catholic High School)*
  • Madeline “Maddy Van” Hulse (Daviess County High School)*

Estill County

  • Jacob Harris (Homeschool)*

Fayette County

  • Brian Zhu (Paul L. Dunbar High School)*

Franklin County

  • Nikitha Rajendran (Franklin County High School)*
  • Olivia Simpson (Lexington Catholic High School)*

Fulton County

  • Lindy Sipes (Fulton County High School)*

Graves County

  • Hannah Cope (Graves County High School)*

Grayson County

  • Chloe Lindsey (Grayson County High School)*

Hardin County

  • Jaylon Hurt (North Hardin High School)
  • Mary Kirsten Reilly (Central Hardin High School)*
  • Sarah Beth Sarver (Central Hardin High School)

Henderson County

  • Brock McDaniel (Homeschool)*

Hopkins County

  • Olivia Gilliam (Madisonville North Hopkins High School)

Jefferson County

  • Jonathan Bramley (Fairdale High School)
  • Caroline Ferro (Eastern High School)
  • Callie Freeman (Sacred Heart Academy)*
  • Bin Lin (Waggener High School)
  • Natalie Ngong (duPont Manual High School)
  • Leah Nofsinger (duPont Manual High School)
  • Jaylen Rhodes (J. Graham Brown School)
  • Dillon Tate (duPont Manual School)

Jessamine County

  • Daniela Zieba (Sayre School)*

Kenton County

  • George Mattingly (Beechwood High School)
  • Summer Wei (Beechwood High School)*

Knox County

  • Nikhil Krishna (Corbin High School)*

LaRue County

  • Skyler Hornback (LaRue County High School)*

Laurel County

  • Arjun Kanthawar (North Laurel High School)*
  • Bronson McQueen (South Laurel High School)
  • Hasan Salim (North Laurel High School)*

Lawrence County

  • Caleb Curry (Lawrence County High School)*

Lincoln County

  • Samuel Durham (Lincoln County High School)

Logan County

  • Phillip Wilkerson (Russellville High School)*

Madison County

  • Kyla Wilkie (Berea Community High School)

McCracken County

  • Ethan Brown (McCracken County High School)*
  • Marco Garcia (Paducah Tilghman High School)

Meade County

  • Jacob Bowen (Meade County High School)*
  • Kyler Shaw (Meade County High School)

Monroe County

  • Tom Harrison Froedge (Monroe County High School)*

Muhlenberg County

  • Evan “Van” Poole (Muhlenberg County High School)*

Nelson County

  • Wendy Cecil (Bardstown High School)*

Oldham County

  • Alicia Edds (Oldham County High School)
  • Emily Guernsey (Sacred Heart Academy)*
  • Noemi Leibman (North Oldham High School)*

Pulaski County

  • Mackenzie Brunson (Pulaski County High School)
  • Lillian Hamm (Pulaski County High School)*
  • Selin Sergin (Pulaski County High School)

Rowan County

  • Camuel Hart (Rowan County Senior High School)*
  • John Nickell (Rowan County Senior High School)*
  • Aidan O’Brien (Rowan County Senior High School)

Scott County

  • Maxwell Diener (Scott County High School)

Shelby County

  • Martin Alex Peña (Martha Layne Collins High School)

Taylor County

  • Samuel Kessler (Campbellsville High School)*

Warren County

  • Maxwell Conte (Bowling Green High School)*
  • Steven Gaiko (South Warren High School)*
  • Benjamin Kash (Greenwood High School)*
  • Jack “JJ” Marquardt (Greenwood High School)*
  • Emily Nguyen (South Warren High School)
  • Frankie Ni (South Warren High School)
  • Meigan Niu (Greenwood High School)*
  • Meghan Perez (Greenwood High School)*
  • Keelee Pullum (Warren Central High School)*
  • Alexa Thompson (Bowling Green High School)*
  • James Whitaker (Bowling Green High School)

Woodford County

  • Grayson Fuller (Woodford County High School)*

* Gatton Community Scholar

These graduates are recognized for completing two semesters of research with a research outcome that is presented to a professional audience after being accepted through a vetted process OR four semesters of participation in STEM+Critical Languages, AND documenting 60 hours of service.