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Monday, April 19, 2021

Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs Selects 19 NKY Students for Summer Program

Charlie Gorman, one of the Highlands students selected for GSE at FT Launch. Gorman started the Highlands Investment Club.

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The Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE), a highly competitive summer program where Kentucky high school students focus on product innovation and business model design, has announced the selection of 120 students from nearly 50 Kentucky counties for the 2021 program.

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Nineteen Northern Kentucky students were selected, including four from Highlands, three from Campbell County and one from Newport Catholic. 

“I am so proud of the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs and the students who have been chosen to participate in this premier summer program,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “The GSE experience is so sought after that we have added a second session this year so we could accommodate the increasing demand. Kentucky has set the bar high for giving high school students a rewarding and unique residential college experience. This program will unleash their innate entrepreneurial spirit and put them on a path to create businesses and opportunities that will reap benefits for our state for years to come.”

Hundreds of high school students applied to be part of the GSE experience. Participants are selected through a competitive process that does not consider GPA or test scores, and the experience is free for all participants. GSE’s uniquely designed application is structured to identify creative problem-solvers who want to roll up their sleeves and dive head first into creating something meaningful.

“While social and economic empowerment has always been at the core of the GSE experience, our talented class of 2021 truly embodies the fact that without diversity in all forms, innovation does not exist,” said Tasha Sams, executive director of GSE. “In fact, what we look for in our participants can’t be tabulated. We seek the innovative thinkers, the collaborators, the risk takers, the change makers, the teens with a drive that is unstoppable. They are Kentucky’s future business creators, and based on GSE’s class of 2021, the future of the commonwealth is brighter than ever!”

Earlier this month, GSE announced the addition of a second summer session for 2021 to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for the GSE experience. This year’s program will welcome 120 high school students from across the commonwealth, up from 72 in recent years, with plans to double the program size in 2022.

“Congratulations to all of the students selected for the GSE class of 2021. I am excited to see what new ideas and products come out of the program this summer, and to see how the students will grow from the GSE experience,” said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who is also the secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. 

GSE’s first session will run June 6-26, 2021, and the second session July 5-24, 2021. Plans for an in-person program hosted by Northern Kentucky University (NKU) are underway. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GSE will implement health protocols to keep participants safe and has worked alongside university partner NKU and the Northern Kentucky community on a comprehensive and strategic plan for this summer.

GSE is a relative newcomer on the list of Kentucky’s Governor's Schools, having opened to its first group of students in 2013. The three-week residential immersion program brings high school students from across the state together and equips them with the tools needed to unleash their innate entrepreneurial spirits for the betterment of Kentucky. During the program, teams of students develop a business model, design a prototype and pitch their startups to a panel of judges. GSE teaches the opportunities, benefits and pitfalls of taking a business concept from the idea phase to pitching it to potential investors.

While all participants gain vital entrepreneurial skills through the program to use as they enter the workplace or continue into higher education, more than 16 new businesses have been launched by GSE alumni since it started. Others have filed for multiple patents and developed new ideas and relationships that sow the seeds for more business formation.

Dozens of alumni have chosen to enroll in entrepreneurial programs at Kentucky universities and attribute this decision to the inspiration they received by attending GSE in high school. Through partnerships with collegiate partners, GSE provides more than $5 million in scholarship funding opportunities to Kentucky high school students each year. GSE fosters and empowers the Commonwealth’s future business owners and community leaders, giving these teens the support they need to go from high school students to business owners.

Because of strong partnerships with entities like the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, The Cabinet for Economic Development, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK), and numerous public and private supporters like the Marksbury Family Foundation, and Nate Morris of Rubicon Global, GSE is completely free for selected entrepreneurs. Alumni of GSE gain access to a host of scholarship opportunities, high school class credit, and a statewide network of life long entrepreneurial support. Since 2013, more than 500 student entrepreneurs have received scholarship funding through the program.

Parents, educators, entrepreneurs and teens who believe grit, a growth mindset and creativity in problem solving tell as much about a young person as good grades and test scores, can learn more about the Governor’s School of Entrepreneurs at

Savannah King, from Highlands, helped start "The Coffee Bus" at Fort Thomas Coffee. Read more here. 

See the full list of Northern Kentuckians here:
Bella Marita, a Sophomore at Notre Dame Academy in Kenton County
Charlie Gorman, a Junior at Highlands High School in Campbell County
Colin Esmeier, a Sophomore at Covington Catholic High School in Kenton County
Ella Stahl, a Sophomore at Campbell County High School in Campbell County
Gabrielle Joyce, a Junior at Notre Dame Academy in Kenton County
Jonah Prost, a Junior at Newport Central Catholic in Campbell County
Jordan Brooks, a Sophomore at Campbell County High School in Campbell County
Luke Zurad, a Junior at Larry A. Ryle High School in Boone County
Ming Faih Wong Burgess, a Junior at Covington Catholic High School in Kenton County
Nate Weidner, a Junior at Highlands High School in Campbell County
Olivia Currin, a Junior at Simon Kenton High School in Kenton County
Parker Cleveland, a Junior at Highlands High School in Campbell County
Putiaha McBagonluri, a Junior at Larry A Ryle High School in Boone County
Riley Maddox, a Sophomore at Notre Dame Academy in Kenton County
Ruhshona Tursunova, a Freshman at Randall K. Cooper High School in Boone County
Samuel Webb, a Junior at Ryle High School in Boone County
Sarah Assd, a Sophomore at Boone County High School in Boone County
Savannah King, a Junior at Highlands High School in Campbell County
Sydney Brooks, a Junior a Campbell County High School in Campbell County

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