The Gatton Academy's News Archive
Two Gatton Academy Alum Receive Prestigious Graduate Study Scholarships
- Cheryl Kirby-Stokes
- Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021
Two alumni of The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science recently received two of the country’s most prestigious graduate study awards. Elvin N. Irihamye (’19, Paul L. Dunbar HS) received the Rhodes Scholarship and Samuel C. Kessler (’18, Campbellsville HS) received the George J. Mitchell Scholarship.
Irihamye is a senior at Indiana University where he is a Herman B. Wells Scholar. A neuroscience major, he co-founded and is president of a charitable corporation, The Eckford Mentorship Program, using industry and academic partnerships to bring Black, Latinx and Native American talent into the workforce. He is also active in a start-up, Create Circles, that assists nursing home residents. Irihamye has been a student advisor to the Indiana University president and to the Vice Provost for undergraduate education. He is a co-author of three scientific publications in peer-reviewed publications, including Nature and Cells relating to cancer chemotherapy treatments. Irihamye plans to do the MSc in Translational Health Science and the MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at Oxford. This year’s Rhodes Scholar class of 32 students from the United States were selected from 826 candidates endorsed by 247 different colleges. The award, considered to be the most prestigious international scholarship for American college graduates, was established in 1903 through the final will and bequest of Cecil John Rhodes, with the first class of scholars beginning their Oxford studies in 1904. Students from all over the world compete for the 102 scholarships awarded annually. Irihamye will begin his studies at the University of Oxford next October, joining scholarship recipients from more than 60 other countries.
“As the son of two African immigrants, I'd always grown up painfully aware of the inequities that existed in global health and sought to make a difference,” says Irihamye. “While studying Neuroscience at Indiana University, I've been highly involved in developing and co-founding social entrepreneurship ventures, an experience that has opened my eyes to the power of technology to strengthen communities and transform healthcare. At Oxford University, I'll be reading for an Msc. in Translational Health Sciences and an MBA with a focus on Global Health Leadership. As a Rhodes Scholar, I aim to help develop and implement health IT systems for the developing world in the mission of bringing the power of big data analytics and AI to improving patient outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Kessler is a senior at University of Louisville where he is a Grawemeyer Scholar. He will earn a BA in Applied Geography and a BA in Individualized Study of Public Policy and Environmental Mitigation. Kessler was announced as one of 12 members of the US-Ireland Alliance of the George J. Mitchell Scholar Class of 2023. One of the country’s most prestigious scholarship programs, it sends future American leaders to the island of Ireland for a year of graduate study. Kessler has been recognized for developments in water sampling with the KY Institute for the Environment & Sustainable Development and holds a pending patent with the US Geological Survey. He co-founded UofL’s first peer-reviewed journal for student research and founded the Commonwealth Policy Coalition, a non-profit think tank linking university knowledge with legislative partners to develop solutions. From his work related to environmental economics of Kentucky’s bourbon industry, the think tank drafted a bill poised for introduction in the state legislature. Kessler is a Congressman Hal Rogers Scholar, and Intake Specialist for the Kentucky Resources Council. He sees promise for renewable biogas energy in Kentucky from bourbon stillage wastes -- the same found in Irish whiskey production. Charged by the University Provost to serve the Sustainability Council, he is one of two student authors of UofL's Climate Action Plan and coordinated negotiations to transition campus to renewable biogas energy using local methane sources and value-extracting biotechnology from UofL’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy. Kessler researched this technology with CONN Center scientists and developed a proposal to use peat moss as a lower-carbon renewable biocoal replacement for coal or peat, which may yield revenue from moss cultivation and carbon-sink conservation of peat bogs like those in Ireland. He will study Public Policy at University College Dublin.
Says Kessler, “The Mitchell is among the best in the world, I am beyond humbled to have received it from the US-Ireland Alliance. Starting at Gatton with the Gatton Research Internship Program, it’s a clear sign that my research experiences and policy projects have been on the right track. I thank God and my family’s support along the way, as well as those in Kentucky who have facilitated my experiences after Gatton. The Mitchell Scholars are all visionaries with incredible experiences of their own, and I'm honored to be among them. As a Mitchell Scholar, I also look forward to sending some mutual friendly salutes over the Irish Sea to my friend Elvin Irihamye, a Gatton Alum and now Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.”
About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year program for gifted and talented and high achieving juniors and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students apply as high school sophomores, enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers.