PAINTSVILLE – Michael Hamilton is on a mission to reverse the unfair stereotypes often associated with youth from Eastern Kentucky.
Hamilton, 19, of Wittensville, jokes when he begins to talk about the labels placed on him. His 6-foot-2 frame often lends the perception that he plays football. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in reality, he is just as successful as his high school football team at Johnson Central, which played in the school’s first state football championship this season.
He’s a member of Johnson Central High School academic team and a seven-time all-state choir member. As a senior, he is also a member of the Johnson County Early College Academy at Big Sandy Community and Technical College’s (BSCTC) and will graduate this month with his high school diploma and an associate in arts degree
Hamilton, a 2015 Governors Scholar, has been awarded the Presidential Scholarship at the University of Kentucky, as well as the William C. Parker Diversity Scholarship.
“The Presidential Scholarship will cover the cost of my tuition for four years and the William C. Parker Scholarship will cover most of my room and board,” said Hamilton, who plans on double majoring in political science and and international economics with an emphasis on French. “
Hamilton earned the Presidential Scholarship with an ACT composite score of 31 – something that came through hard work and dedication.
“The University of Kentucky raised its composite score from 28 to 31 in August, so I had to retake the ACT to meet the requirement,” Hamilton said. “I only had three opportunities to raise the score.”
There were little room for improvement as a perfect ACT score is 36. Hamilton enlisted the help of his aunt, Jeanne Reed, who was a former ACT tutor.
“I was stressed because my being able to afford college was reliant upon two ACT points,” he said. Hamilton buckled down. He would visit his aunt after academic team practice, and they studied, took practice tests and analyzed testing strategies.
“I can’t thank my aunt [Jeanne] enough,” said Hamilton. “Without her, I would never have been able to reach this goal.”
Hamilton built his essay for the William C. Parker Scholarship on how Appalachia is riddled with adversity.
“We don’t have access to advancements prevalent to other regions of the country,” he said. “As a result we are seen as an inferior people, and I am not satisfied with that. The stigma placed on us is my main motivation to succeed in college and my drive to reverse the perception of Appalachia and its people.”
The Early College Academy at BSCTC has played an important role in Hamilton’s journey. He’ll graduate in this month debt free and has a solid foundation for his future studies.
“I’m glad I made the choice to participate in this program,” he continued. “I’ve learned a whole new level of responsibility and accountability. I’m thankful for my professors who have made a special impact on my life.”
So what does Hamilton hope to be doing in 10 years?
“Working as an attorney specializing in education law and policy,” he said. “I eventually want to run for office and work in an official capacity to influence education reform.”