Only 10 graduating Kentucky seniors are accepted into the program each year. Jenkins said she had been told that she was only the second person from TCHS to be accepted, with the first person being Mary Scott Roberts. She said that they usually award the scholarship to 10 people, but that sometimes students don’t go through with the commitment and alternates are chosen to take their place.
Jenkins said she had received notification that she was an alternate, but that Dr. Gary Gregg, director of U of L’s McConnell Center, called her on her cell phone one morning. She had also been included in the McConnell Young Leaders Academy, so she thought he was calling for that reason. When she found out why he had officially been selected, she got high school teacher Kim Adams to call her mother, Debra Jenkins, so she would be fooled into thinking Alex had gotten into trouble at school.
“Then she handed the phone to me and I yelled, ‘I got in!” Jenkins said.
“Competition for this year’s ten slots was particularly competitive, with more than thirty percent (more applicants) over the last two years,” Gregg said in a press release. “We are very excited about the quality of the young leaders that will be joining us next year and are optimistic about what it says for the future of Kentucky.” He added, “It’s a great honor to be chosen a McConnell Scholar, and we know Alexandra Jenkins will be a great success at the University and in providing leadership to our Commonwealth in the years ahead.”
The release said that along with a tuition scholarship, the McConnell Scholarship carries an opportunity to “develop leadership skills, take part in great books seminars, intern in Washington, and to study abroad. The scholarships were founded in 1991 by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and the University of Louisville, who wanted to provide a non-partisan leadership training program for Kentucky’s best and brightest students.
See The Cadiz Record for more on Jenkins' award.