Southeast Scholars program holds 2024 summer institute

Published 1:43 am Thursday, June 27, 2024

In mid-June, 20 local middle and high school students attended the 2024 Southeast Scholars Summer Institute on the Cumberland Campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC). Participants took a deep dive into communications, with a focus on television and the press. Lisa Barrick, associate professor of English, led a workshop in basic public speaking, and Dr. Amy Simpson, director of public relations and communications, taught students to write press releases using the Associated Press format.

Will Major, SKCTC TV producer and multimedia specialist, reviewed the process of writing and broadcasting a public service announcement (PSA). Under his guidance, student groups wrote, planned, and recorded three simple PSAs on subjects they chose, including wildfire prevention and driving safety. They produced a news broadcast about regional topics and created a testimonial video for Southeast Scholars. They learned to film, edit, and work on a production crew.

“I am so proud of what the Scholars accomplished this summer,” said Jennifer Cornell, who coordinates the program. “The goal of Southeast Scholars is not only to prepare students academically for college, but also to prepare them for life.  This summer, as they learned potential job skills for the future, they also learned how to work together as a group and created a great team project.  In doing so, each student was able to bring his or her own unique perspective to the project, while working together as a group.”

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Created in the late 1980s by leadership at SKCTC, Southeast Scholars is a privately funded academic program created for rising 7th graders to recent graduates in Bell, Harlan, Knox, and Letcher counties who will be the first in their families to graduate from college. The program’s primary focus is to normalize the college experience and prepare participants for college by teaching life-skills, such as cooking, sewing, and financial management. The program also offers academic classes including creative writing, math, chemistry, and communication. The late Dr. Carolyn Sundy led the program for many years.

According to Charlie Day, a rising 11th grader from Harlan Independent Schools,  “Southeast Scholars not only prepares students for college, but those who complete the program from 7th grade to graduation will receive a scholarship, allowing them to attend SKCTC tuition free.” Also, said Day, the program caps off each year with a cultural enrichment trip, traveling to locations such as Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, Atlanta, Colonial Williamsburg, Chattanooga, and this year, Pigeon Forge.

For more information about Southeast Scholars, contact Jennifer Cornell at 606-589-3061 or