From June 21 until July 1, 50 of the state’s top high school students will participate in the annual Governor’s Honors Academy (GHA), a statewide tradition hosted at Southern Utah University since 1988.
The GHA aims to expose students to the collegiate academic experience to help these top scholars realize their potential and the boundless opportunities open to them, given a very strong track record for academic success. During GHA, students will do everything from attend lectures and workshops to hike the national parks and take in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 50th season.
According to GHA director, Jared Wilcken, beyond leaving with a much broader understanding of the demands and benefits of a college education, GHA aims to help these proven scholars learn valuable leadership skills.
GHA Co-director Kirk Blake adds, “GHA is not for specific majors or personality types; it is solely focused on giving the state’s top scholars the right kind of information and assistance they need to succeed on a larger academic scale, regardless of their interests and goals.”
GHA participants will earn six college credits over the academy’s ten days. Additionally, those students who successfully complete all GHA course requirements will qualify for a four-year scholarship to Southern Utah University.
Former GHA attendee and 2011 SUU graduate Brooke Dudley lauds GHA as “just what [she] needed to figure out [her] next step after high school.” She adds, “It changed my life.”
Though Dudley only applied for GHA because she thought it would look good on a résumé, she left GHA with much more determination and direction.
“I learned so many valuable leadership skills and I learned if I put myself out there I can make a difference,” said Dudley.
According to Wilcken, such an experience is most often the end result of what is, essentially, an academic summer camp.
Students who apply to attend the GHA must have a minimum 3.5 grade point average and must submit an application with three letters of recommendation (at least one from a principal or counselor) and a 750-word essay. Students are selected based on academic merit and ambition.