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Craft Academy holds first Alumni Leadership Conference

The Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics at Morehead State University welcomed graduates back to campus for its first Alumni Leadership Conference, Saturday, Nov. 13.  

Ninety-eight alumni representing every graduating class attended the conference, held in the ADUC Ballroom. Dr. Carol Christian, director of the Academy, and MSU President Dr. Jay Morgan welcomed alumni back to campus to kick off the day's activities. The event allowed graduates to reconnect with their classmates and allowed current students to connect with alumni for networking, internships, potential research, and future career opportunities.  Christian said events like the conference are important for alumni and current and future students alike.

“As our next generation of leaders become employers, we want them to reach back and consider Craft Academy alumni,” she said. “It’s so important to be connected, to stay connected and to connect others.”

Several students from the Academy's inaugural Class of 2017 were guest speakers, including Zeb Hart, Danielle Gibson, Boone Allison, Lauren Endicott and Taylor Roland. The alumni spoke about their experience at the Craft Academy and how it has supported their success.  

"The current students loved hearing the alumni stories of struggles they had at Craft and after graduation and how they faced those challenges and overcame them," said Dr. Garrick Ratliff, assistant director of guidance counseling services for the Academy. "Students gained a lot of insight on college selection as well as picking a good career and what employers are looking for from a candidate."  

During lunch, alumni were presented with gold pins, and the winners of Distinguished Alumni Awards were announced. The winners were:  
  • Boone Allison of Harlan, Class of 2017. He attended Milligan University, earning a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in economics, graduating with honors in 2019. Allison received the Jeanes Scholar award, the most prestigious academic award at Milligan. He now attends the University of Kentucky and is pursuing a degree in health administration and is the president of the UK MHA student association, captain of the case competition team, and sits on the UK MHA board of advisors. Allison's plans will work as an administrative fellow at the Mayo Clinic this coming July.  
  • Jack Dorman of Shelbyville, Class of 2018. At Purdue University, Dorman has participated in many research projects. The bulk of his experiences have been with malaria and mosquito genomics. Dorman was an intern at the Kentucky Department for Public Health, where he worked on COVID-19 sequencing. This led to working on COVID-19 genomic surveillance for Purdue, where over 600 COVID-19 genomes were sequenced. In his current lab, he works with viruses, specifically projects on dengue, Zika, and hepatitis C. He was nominated for and received the Goldwater scholarship.  
  • Haylee Mitchell of Morning View, Class of 2018. Mitchell graduated from the University of Kentucky in May 2021 with a bachelor's degree in materials engineering with minors in mathematics and physics and was named a scholar in engineering leadership. She graduated magna cum laude with a 3.89 GPA in three years. She is currently employed at Lockheed Martin as an aeronautical engineer associate, where she had previously interned for the past two summers. She was recently accepted into Lockheed's Engineering Leadership Development program.  
  • Madeline Jansen of Villa Hills, Class of 2017. Following her time at the Craft Academy, Jansen received a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration from Western Kentucky University. She was a president's list scholar and was heavily involved on campus. Some of her roles included serving on the e-board and as treasurer of the Delta Zeta sorority. She was  a member of Phi Sigma Pi honor fraternity in various leadership roles, president of Student CPT ethics club, a member of Healthcare Administration club, and was an AHEC scholar member. She earned 120+ continuing education credits in various healthcare topics and leading a rural healthcare initiative to help bring an end to the epidemic of farmer suicide and provide better care opportunities to rural Kentuckians.  
  • Lori Porter of La Grange, Class of 2019. Porter is a junior physics major at the University of Louisville. She is an honors scholar and Brown Fellow. She maintains involvement in several organizations, including an officer position in the Society for Physics Students, the Society for Women in Physics & Astronomy, the competitive Mortar Board Senior Honors Society, the Kentucky Area Astronomical Society, and more. Porter conducts research at UofL, has written proposals for the Hubble Space Telescope and has been part of several scientific papers and collaborations. She recently completed an internship at the prestigious Flatiron Institute in New York City researching dwarf galaxies.  
  • Joshua Frommeyer of Hebron, Class of 2017. Since graduating from the Craft Academy, Frommeyer attended the University of Cincinnati and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he studied biochemistry. At Eckerd, he was awarded an internship at the Harvard Medical School Center for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He has created programs for K-12 students and participated in several research projects involving tortoise population ecology, dolphin population dynamics, medicinal chemistry, and synthetic organic chemistry, and has disseminated his research at multiple venues. Nominated for the Barry Goldwater scholarship, Frommeyer was inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society at UC and received the Natural Sciences Collegium Scholarship and Service Award with a total GPA of 3.96. He received a job offer at the biotech company KSQ, which uses a patented discovery platform to decode the entire genome and identify optimal gene targets for oncology and autoimmune disease. He plans to apply to several Ph.D. programs.  

The keynote speakers for the event were Dr. Joe Craft and Ambassador Kelly Craft, benefactors of the Craft Academy. The event concluded with meetings for each graduating class, the issuance of yearbooks and prize drawings.   

"The conference was a big success. It exceeded all of our expectations, from the number of alumni that attended to the interactions of our present students with the alumni that attended," Ratliff said.  

The Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics is a dual-credit academy for academically exceptional Kentucky students. Craft Academy provides students with a postsecondary residential experience to complete their junior and senior years of high school by enrolling in college courses. The Craft Academy's purpose is to meet the unique educational needs of academically gifted and talented high school juniors and seniors in the Commonwealth. The academic rigor of the Craft Academy challenges students to excel at their highest level through project-based STEM+X courses and hands-on learning experiences, with emphasis on innovation, design and creativity, and civic and regional engagement.  

For more information, visit, email or call 606-783-2093.