By Bill Robinson
A crowd had gathered Thursday at one end of the Madison Central High School library. There were several students, but also many adults not associated with the school.
Lots of cameras were set up, including some from the news media.
The crowd had gathered to watch a Madison Central student sign a prestigious scholarship offer.
While she had played three sports for her high school, the excitement wasn’t about an athletic scholarship.
Mary Kate Miller was signing to be a Chuck Yeager Scholar at Marshall University.
She is one of six chosen nationally to receive the full scholarship and stipend named for the first human to fly faster than the speed of sound.
As a Yeager Scholar, she will get to study for a summer at England’s Oxford University and have other study-abroad opportunities, she said.
In addition to covering all of her school expenses, the Yeager Scholarship will provide her with a stipend for personal expenses, Miller said in an interview after the ceremony.
If he’s well enough to attend, the aviation hero will personally welcome the new students who will benefit from the scholarship that bears his name.
After learning about Marshall’s Yeager Scholarship as an underclassman, Miller said she made attaining it her goal.
She even gave up team sports, said her father, Rick Miller, although she had legitimate prospects of winning a college scholarship in either softball or basketball.
Mary Kate said she chose Marshall for two reasons, its Yeager Scholarship and its nationally recognized forensic science program.
Studying at Marshall, she believes, will give her the best chance of fulfilling her dream of becoming an FBI forensic chemist. And, the Yeager Scholarship won’t leave her with a financial burden after graduation.
The added benefits that come with being a Yeager Scholar are icing on the cake.
Her family is from Virginia, Miller said, and they drive by the Marshall campus off Interstate 64 on their way to visit relatives.
She also had academic scholarship offers from Eastern, Western and Northern Kentucky universities.
Miller played three sports as a Madison Central freshman: soccer, basketball and softball. Although she is “very competitive" and had done well in athletics, she gave up soccer after her freshman year and the other two sports after her sophomore year.
His daughter fell in love with science after competition in the Science Olympiad, Richard Miller said, and she decided to concentrate on academics and her career goal.
Her dedication first paid off with acceptance into the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program and then with winning the Yeager Scholarship.
Although athletics are important to her family, so is academics. Her mother, Karen, teaches second grade at Waco Elementary. Her father is an academic specialist at Clark-Moores Middle School.
Bill Robinson can be reached at email@example.com or at 624-6690.