By Lydia Whitman
(March 12, 2015) The University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities has chosen 12 outstanding undergraduates as new scholars for the university's Gaines Fellowship Program for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 academic years. Gaines Fellowships are given 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.
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; students in all disciplines and with any intended profession are given equal consideration.
UK's 12 new Gaines Fellows are:
• David Cole, of Monticello, Kentucky, majoring in English;
• Eva Cortès, of Lexington, majoring in international studies and French;
• Rachel Dixon, of Lexington, majoring in English, Spanish and writing, rhetoric and digital studies;
• Nathan Hewitt, of Fishers, Indiana, majoring in music performance (percussion) and arts administration;
• Kaylee Hicks, of Versailles, Kentucky, majoring in international studies;
• Alex Krupp, of Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in history and political science;
• Amir Kucharski, of Brookfield, Wisconsin, majoring in chemistry and physics;
• Hannah Latta, of Mayfield, Kentucky, majoring in biology;
• Sam Northrup, of Wilmore, Kentucky, majoring in political science and international studies;
• Boone Proffitt, of Louisville, Kentucky, majoring in civil engineering;
• Abby Schroering, of Louisville, majoring in theatre and English; and
• Natalie Watkins, of Barrington, Illinois, majoring in English and gender and women's studies.
All Gaines Fellows are required to take a specially designed, four-credit hour 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. "To say that I am elated concerning my selection as a Gaines Fellow would be an understatement," Hannah Latta said. "I feel incredibly blessed to be given this opportunity to be immersed in the humanities and to connect to the Gaines Fellowship in the Humanities. I knew the program would allow me to realize this aspiration."
Founded in 1984 by a generous gift from John and Joan Gaines, the Gaines Center for the Humanities functions as a laboratory for imaginative and innovative education on UK's campus. Part of the Academy of Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Undergraduate Education, the center is devoted to cultivating an appreciation of the humanities in its students and faculty. The center embraces varied paths of knowledge and particularly strives to integrate creative work with traditional academic learning.