Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Council on Postsecondary Education

Press Release Date:  Thursday, March 10, 2011  
Contact Information:  Sue Patrick
Cell: 502-330-6596

Hundreds of high school juniors from across Kentucky earned $1,000 academic scholarships in the “Drive the Dream” program, sponsored by Kentucky GEAR UP and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.

A total of 560 students earned the scholarships and were recognized during a ceremony last week in Louisville as part of GEAR UP Kentucky’s 2011 Institute for a College-Going Culture. GEAR UP, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, works with Kentucky schools, colleges, businesses, communities, and non-profit organizations to mentor and improve the skills of middle school and high school students with the result of making them college and career ready.

During the awards program, Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King challenged the students to excel academically and to choose college so they can become leaders who will improve the quality of life for people in their communities, state, country and world.

“Today is not the first step but an early step in that trip toward leadership. By being recognized for having earned the scholarships is an important indicator that we have our eye on the right people, with the right talent, with the right drive and the right dedication to provide that leadership to a world that desperately needs it.

“So, I wish to each of you not just good luck, but a bright and brilliant future because I expect, as I hope you will expect of yourselves, very high achievement,” said King.

In other recognitions, GEAR UP seniors Benjamin Whitlock of Green County High School and Nandi Thomas of Holmes High School earned the first annual GEAR UP Kentucky Beacon Award for Excellence.

The second annual GEAR UP College Advocate of the Year award went to Dreama Gentry of Berea College. Gentry is the director of sponsored programs at the college, leading the college’s externally funded outreach. She oversees an annual budget of $11 million dollars and a staff of 33.

Part of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, GEAR UP is a federally funded program that works with schools and families to create college-going cultures in communities where more than 50 percent of the enrolled students come from low-income backgrounds. GEAR UP Kentucky has sites hosted by partners in seven regions across Kentucky, including Fayette County, Hazard Community and Technical College, University of Louisville, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky Council of Education Partners and Western Kentucky University.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must attend a school in the GEAR UP Kentucky program, participated in all the EXPLORE and PLAN assessments and reached the benchmark in at least two of the subject areas of the 2008 PLAN assessments. They also needed to maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average, and submit an essay and references. Students will receive the scholarships when they enroll in college.

Photos of the recipients are available at


Kentucky’s postsecondary and adult education system is improving the economic vitality of the Commonwealth and the lives of Kentuckians. By raising educational attainment, Kentucky will attract higher wage and knowledge-based business and industry. The overall quality of life for Kentuckians will also improve with higher incomes and levels of employment, better health, less obesity, more volunteerism, and lower crime and public assistance rates.


Last Updated 3/17/2011