Churchill Downs Winner's Circle Governor's Scholars Class of 2012 Honored

Nov 17, 2012 John Asher

Thirty-one outstanding high school students, members of their families and representatives of their respective schools were saluted at Churchill Downs on Friday, Nov. 16 as the historic home of the Kentucky Derby held its annual reception for participants in its Churchill Downs Governor’s Scholars Program (“CDGS”).

Yhe participation of each of those students in last summer’s overall Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program (“KGSP”) was funded by Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) and its parent company, Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”).  The Churchill Downs corporate partnership with KGSP, now in its 12th year, is unique in that all students who participate as Churchill Downs Governor’s Scholars must have overcome personal challenges or adversity to become high achievers in both their personal lives and the classroom.

The 2012 Churchill Downs Governor’s Scholars class was honored by track officials and board members and staff of the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program during the reception and lunch in the Trophy Room in the track’s Clubhouse.  Members of the class also participated in a trophy presentation following the fifth race.

The overall Kentucky Governor’s Scholars program, launched in 1983, places outstanding students from across the state on one of three Kentucky college campuses in the summer prior to their senior year for five weeks of experiences designed to enhance their role as the state’s next generation of civic and economic leaders.

“GSP has been one of the most amazing opportunities of my life, and I’m extremely thankful,” said Harrison Kirby, a senior at St. Xavier High School and one of three 2012 CDGS class members to address the gathering.  “It’s people who have faced difficulty.  It’s people who have overcome difficulty.  And it’s every sort of person, and that’s what makes it special.  It’s not sitting in a room with a lot of people who are like you.  It’s sitting in a room with a lot of people who are different from you, and building a community with a lot of people who are different from you.”

“Each summer the Governor's Scholars Program creates an extraordinary community of learners,” said Dr. Aris Cedeno, Executive Director and Academic Dean of the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program.  “That community, which is an educational oasis during the five summer weeks on a college campus, becomes an irrigation system that contributes to the growth and future success of our Commonwealth. That system is made possible thanks to the generous contributions of the Governor's office, legislators and private donors.”

“Churchill Downs truly represents the epitome of the exemplary community support for our high-achieving future leaders.  The unique focus of the Churchill Downs Governor's Scholars initiative is to recognize scholars whose academic achievement has not come easily.”

Sandra Martinez, a Churchill Downs Winner's Circle Governor's Scholar from Central Higth School, described her Governor's Scholars experience on the campus of Centre College in Danville, Ky.

'GSP was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience and there's no way that anything could ever compare to it,' Martinez said.  'My five weeks at the Governor's Scholars program were some of the best of my life.'

With the 31 members of its 2012 class, a total of 339 students have participated in the Churchill Downs Winner’s Circle Governor’s Scholars program since its inception in 2001.

Information on the overall Kentucky Governor’s Scholars program is available online at

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