Alumni Updates and Spotlight
Why VAMPY and SCATS matter to me
Christian Butterfield (VAMPY 2015-18):The thing that's kept me coming back to VAMPY — other than the friends, because friends were the biggest thing — is the self-confidence that I get here. Outside of VAMPY, I don't feel very confident about myself or what I can do, but the moment I come to camp, I feel much more capable and happy with myself.
Addie Blankinship (SCATS 2016-18): SCATS is my second home. It’s somewhere where I feel comfortable being myself. I’ve
met so many people, and each year it’s so fun to revisit everything and see people
Ms. Allison Elliott-Shannon of Lexington (VAMPY 1993-5; Travel; Counselor) is the Director of Communication at the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. She earned a BA in history with a minor in English from Centre College in 2001 and an MA in communication from American University in 2002: “I'm working on my PhD in higher education, with a focus on the history of women's philanthropic support of education. I'm also stepmom to a delightful teenage girl, Sophia, and recently took a trip to Iceland, where my husband Brent and I rode horses, hiked behind waterfalls, bought large quantities of Icelandic knitting wool (me), and studied the finer points of Reykjavik's indie record store scene (him). I credit my continuing passion for travel, in part, to my 1996 London travel experience with the Center, where I broke in my first passport and learned there was life beyond rural Kentucky.”
Dr. James Marks of Rockville, MD (VAMPY 2003-5; Counselor)earned a BS in biology from the University of Kentucky in 2012 and a PhD in pharmacognosy from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2018. He is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: “I just finished my PhD studying the mechanisms of antibiotic action. Now, I am studying RNA biology at the NIH. I was lucky enough to meet me future wife in graduate school. We married two years ago and are both working at the NIH. It's a wonderful blend of love and science.”
Dr. Scott Nass of Burbank, CA (VAMPY 1988-91; Counselor; Alumni Association Founding Member)earned his BA in psychology in 1997 and his BA in English in 1998, both from Bradley University; his MPA in urban management in 2000 from Indiana University-Bloomington; and his MD in medicine in 2009 from the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science/David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is Director of Inpatient Education at Citrus Valley Health Partners in West Covina, CA. “In 2017, I was honored to be accepted to the inaugural class of the George Washington University Leaders for Health Equity Fellowship. (Photo evidence and further details at https://equityfellowship.gwhwi.org/.) In 2017 I was designated an Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity, a lifelong global cohort of changemakers seeking to achieve health equity for all. You can read the press release here.
Spotlight on: Karyn Andrews (SCATS 1986-87)
Karyn is currently in the WKU graduate program in gifted studies, working toward her endorsement. For her practicum, she taught a course at CSAT this summer.
Where did you grow up?
In LaRue county, in a little town called Buffalo.
How did you find out about SCATS?
My mother was working on her gifted endorsement at the time — she actually taught at SCATS my first year. I took her class — a newspaper class.
What other memories do you have of SCATS?
Going to Opryland — that was fun. I remember making a camera out of an oatmeal box and getting to develop the pictures. There is a drawing that I did in a drawing class still hanging on the wall of my parents’ house.
What career have you pursued?
I work at Mt. Washington Elementary in Bullitt County as the school librarian. I taught band for two years at a Christian school and then want back to graduate school and got my Masters in library. I’m now doing the gifted endorsement toward earning Rank 1 as a teacher.
Why did you decide to do the gifted and talented endorsement?
It’s something I've always wanted to do. I’ve always been a strong advocate for gifted education.
Have there been topics you have covered in your graduate work that have made you reflect
back on yourself as a gifted student?
Definitely. I've learned a lot about myself. I didn’t realize that getting frustrated easily and being very emotional were often tied in with being gifted. I would get irritated with teachers who wanted me to work a problem the way they wanted me to work it out rather than the way I wanted to work it out.
What was it like growing up as a gifted young person?
I was lucky my parents were advocates for me. Once she realized I knew all my letters when I was 19 months old, my mom thought, “Hey, this isn’t normal. We need to figure something out.” She brought me to Western when I was four and had me tested. I was lucky in that I had teachers who challenged me up through third grade. There was no gifted program in my school until I was older, and that was a pull-out, one hour, one day a week program. The superintendent in the district now does a good job with middle and high school students, but with elementary, we’re still getting there.
Has there been any part of the graduate program that you have particularly enjoyed?
I've enjoyed all of it. I’m really enjoying SCATS. This is my first time working with middle school kids, except for when I did student teaching years and years ago, and it has not been as scary as I thought it would be!
Your class is called Book, Books, Books. What are your specific goals?
I want students to have shared with each other books and book series. I want them to come away with a big, long list of new books to read and an appreciation for different genres. Their interests are guiding the direction I take in class. I think it’s working!
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