With only three weeks of school behind us, a new organization has already begun to develop.
Austin Starks, sophomore from Mortons Gap, Ky., is the founder of the Governor’s Scholar Program – College Community organization. Starks is an alumnus of the 2009 GSP program and realized as time went by, he was losing a real connection with his friends.
“I just started working on an idea to reunite Scholars at the college level,” Starks said. “However, I never really followed through with it because I thought I may be alone in my thinking.”
Starks said he ran his idea past Haley Harrington, a fellow scholar and Murray State student, during small talk on Facebook.
“She loved the idea, so I began to realize that others might like it as well,” he said. “I did not want to go into this program alone, so I asked Haley to help me start the program. The extra support just gave me the motivation to help my idea grow, and with her support we got the ball rolling.”
GSP has previously been held on other Kentucky campuses such as Centre and Bellarmine, and has only recently been added to the Murray State campus.
A group to unite previous scholars has not yet been formed on any of these campuses. Established in 1983, the program provides academic and personal growth through the balance of a liberal arts program with the college life experience.
“I believe Murray State has a great atmosphere for GSPCC,” Starks said. “I could not imagine trying to start an organization at UK or U of L with no foundation or precedent for such an organization. All the Scholars and the large community would simply be overwhelming.
Murray State University is small enough to start a movement in the GSP community without overwhelming the founders. Also, with GSP being at (Murray State) in the summer now, it is evident the GSP spirit and mentality is present among the faculty and many of the students.”
Don Robertson, adviser for the group and vice president of Student Affairs, said he sees the group as a sustainable presence on campus.
“You can develop such a close community and students want to continue that,” Robertson said. “Now we have the opportunity of once you come to college you can re-create that community on campus. We’re starting that now, and we’ll be the first of any college campus in Kentucky. Austin met with the GSP leadership this summer and they would like to see this spread to other campuses. It’s a way for students, particularly new students, to immediately have something to identify with and a group to belong to.”
The organization held its first meeting Wednesday.
“Until recently the University did not have a large number of scholars enrolled on campus, but with the influx of scholars, it seems now is the perfect time to start an organization to meet their needs,” Starks said. “Overall, as founders of GSPCC we could not have a more perfect situation to start a program to reunite alumni; it is the perfect atmosphere for such an organization.”