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Rogers Scholars graduates say good-bye for the final time at Friday night’s graduation program.

Whether it was climbing to the top of a 55-foot Alpine Tower or making friends with other high school students from across Southern and Eastern Kentucky, Rogers Scholars graduate Courtney Hamblin says her life has been changed forever.

“The Rogers Scholars program has definitely been an experience of a lifetime for me,” said the 15-year-old junior at Breathitt County High School. “It has helped me build my leadership skills by giving me the opportunity to compare ideas with other students from across the state who are working to make a difference in their communities.”

Hamblin and other members of the second and final summer class of the 2012 Rogers Scholars graduated July 13 on the final day of the week-long program at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

Rogers Scholars graduates closed the program with an improntu performance of their version of Adele’s classic, “Someone Like You,” standing shoulder to shoulder on stage in The Center’s theatre one final time before they returned to their home communities.

During the awards presentation, Rogers Scholars graduate Matthew Barber, a junior at Paintsville High School, was presented the Doug Reece Memorial Award for having the highest-scoring application among the group of Scholars in the second graduating class.

Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, and Delaney Stephens, youth programs coordinator and community liaison, presented Barber with a handcrafted Appalachian dulcimer donated by Dr. Bruce Ayers, president of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Barber also will receive a $250 scholarship to any in-state college or university.

“The Rogers Scholars program helped me to realize the importance of team work and figure out my career plans for the future. It has been a time of immense learning, and although it has been tough, it has definitely been worth it.”
Rogers Scholars graduate Matthew Barber of Johnson County

The award is presented in memory of the late Doug Reece, a prominent attorney in Southern and Eastern Kentucky and former chairman of the executive committee of The Center’s board of directors.

Reece served on the board of directors from 1995 through 2005 and was board chairman at the time of his death in 2006.

The second class of Rogers Scholars graduates selected Kelly Brown of Bell County and Jacob Williams of Clinton County to represent them as Ambassadors. Rogers Scholars Ambassadors continue to work with the program after graduation to plan a class reunion for The Center’s youth programs and other community service activities.

“The second, and final, graduating class of the 2012 Rogers Scholars program showed leadership capabilities that are a promising sign of what this region can look forward to in the future,” said Stephens. “Each one of these Scholars will impact their communities through their leadership skills and the community service mindset they possess.”

Robert M. “Mike” Duncan, a former member of the Executive Committee of The Center’s Board of Directors, was the guest speaker at the Rogers Scholars graduation program.

The Rogers Scholars program provides leadership and scholarship opportunities for high school students within The Center’s 42-county primary service area to fulfill their potential as the region’s next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs.

This summer, a total of 66 students graduated from two separate sessions of the Rogers Scholars program. Each graduate is eligible to apply for a college scholarship from 16 partner colleges and universities after he or she completes a community service project in their home community.

The program instills in graduates a commitment to build their careers in Southern and Eastern Kentucky and is provided tuition-free to participants.

Click here to view photos from Friday night’s awards ceremony and graduation program.

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