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The Eastern Kentucky University Honors Program has once again made history.

During a recent Honors Convocation, recognizing those seniors who have completed the requirements to be named an Honors Scholar, the program celebrated its first second-generation Honors Scholar, Katie Redmond of Maysville. Katie’s mother, Melissa Redmond, graduated from EKU as an Honors Scholar in 1993. Her aunt, Melinda (Bickley) Hiatt, also graduated as an Honors Scholar from EKU in 1998. 

To graduate as an Honors Scholar, students must satisfy EKU Honors curriculum requirements, including the completion and presentation of their Honors Thesis, as well as graduate with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Honors Scholars are recognized for their accomplishments with a gold seal on their diploma, Honors Scholar designation on their transcript, and the privilege of wearing a distinctive maroon mortarboard during their commencement ceremonies. This spring, 58 students were celebrated as Honors Scholars, but Katie is the first known second-generation scholar. 

Beginning the EKU Honors tradition, Katie’s mother, Melissa, graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. While she married early in her college career and focused heavily on her studies, she does remember various Honors Chautauquas (activities and events sponsored by or promoted to the Honors Program). Her Honors Thesis was entitled “A Comparative Analysis of Obstetricians/Gynecologists and Certified Nurse Midwives.”

Melinda, Katie’s aunt, graduated in 1998 with a degree in elementary education and a minor in English. She enjoyed the trips associated with the Honors Program, traveling to Chicago with the program and participating in several cultural activities, including a play and visits to various restaurants and museums. Still, Melinda recalls, she almost withdrew from the Honors Program at the beginning of her senior year.

“I couldn’t fathom completing the senior thesis within one semester, and I was unable to do other classwork while student teaching,” she said. “Because I was adding an endorsement to teach middle grades English, I had to add a semester to my four-year degree. Dr. (Bonnie) Gray (the program’s founding director) and Dr. (Paula) Kopacz allowed me to split my senior thesis between the start of my senior year and the last fall semester of my degree, leaving my student-teaching semester free. I am forever grateful to them for working with me to succeed.  What wonderful women to look up to!”

Melinda did finish her thesis, entitled “It’s Just a Poetry Thing: Models and Originals.” She went on to receive a master’s degree in middle grades education from Morehead State University.

Continuing the family tradition, Katie graduated magna cum laude and as an Honors Scholar, with a degree in biology pre-medical sciences and a minor in chemistry. Her Honors Thesis was entitled “Antibiotic Resistant Genes in the Kentucky River as a Result of Agricultural Runoff and Other Anthropogenic Influences.” This fall, Katie is headed to Lincoln Memorial University to begin medical school and pursue a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.

Melissa and Melinda couldn’t be happier that Katie chose to follow in their footsteps, both at Eastern and within EKU Honors. 

“I was thrilled when she chose EKU and the Honors Program,” Melissa said. “Katie had a great experience, just like I did. EKU and the Honors Program will always be special to me and my family.”

Melinda agreed: “Sharing the Honors Program tradition with her and my sister just strengthens our wonderful family bond even more! My children are still young, but I would be honored if they ever decided to continue their education at EKU and even more blessed if they decided to go through the Honors Program. It is an experience I would have never wanted to miss.”

The EKU Honors Program, which has led the nation for 26 consecutive years in the number of student presenters it brings to the National Collegiate Honors Council meeting, strives to provide students with the best intellectual resources available at the University in order to empower them to attain their highest academic and professional goals. EKU Honors develops the whole student by way of its interdisciplinary, small classes, support of student research and travel to regional and national conferences, and offering of a wide variety of cultural and out-of-classroom experiences. For more information about the EKU Honors Program, visit