This summer’s second and final class of 2011 Rogers Scholars has graduated from The Center for Rural Development.
The Scholars—all rising high school juniors—completed the week-long program on July 15 and presented their finished projects in video production, healthcare careers, and engineering to family members and friends in an emotional graduation ceremony held at The Center.
Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, and Lauren Hayes, youth programs coordinator, presented certificates of achievement to each of the 36 new graduates of the program.
“These young people represent our hopes and dreams for the future and are our region’s next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs,” Lawson said. “We commend them on their achievements as Rogers Scholars graduates and encourage them to build their future careers in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”
A total of 72 high school students from small and rural communities all across Southern and Eastern Kentucky grew their leadership and entrepreneurial skills this summer in The Center’s Rogers Scholars program.
The first class of Rogers Scholars was held during the week of June 26 through July 1, and the second session began July 10.
“I am so blessed and honored to share the Rogers Scholars experience with such amazing representatives from our 42-county primary service area,” Hayes said. “I saw how much potential these students have, and it is such an encouragement to watch them grow and develop into mature adults, but still be kids at heart.”
The Rogers Scholars program—The Center’s flagship youth program—was developed in 1998 to address, and reverse, the high level of out migration suffered by communities within its 42-county primary service area.
The program, inspired and named after U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05), is designed to help The Center move toward its vision that “no young person should have to leave their home region to find his or her future.”
“We would not have had this program without the vision of Congressman Rogers,” Robert “Mike” Duncan, a former member of The Center’s Executive Committee, said.
Duncan, keynote speaker at last week’s Rogers Scholars graduation program, served on the Executive Committee from September 1995 through June 2007.
Shortly before the start of the graduation program, Duncan was presented an award by Lawson recognizing his 12 years of service on the committee.
Since 1998, approximately 804 high school students have graduated from Rogers Scholars, and potential scholarships valued at more than $7.2 million have been offered to graduates from 15 participating partner colleges and universities. The University of Kentucky and Western Kentucky University are the latest institutions to join that list.