Scholar considers ways to promote traditional music in Kentucky's highlands

(Sept. 6, 2011) LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sophomore Meghan Waters spends part of her summer interning in U.S. Representative Geoff Davis's office.
Scholar considers ways to promote traditional music in Kentucky's highlands

U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis presents Meghan Waters with a certificate for completing the Congressional Leadership Program.

Like others her age, Meghan Waters used her summer vacation to practice for her driver's examination. She relied on her dad to drive her to her summer job, and she was grateful for a break from school.

But Waters isn't your typical 16-year-old. The now-sopohmore McConnell Scholar at the University of Louisville spent most of her summer spearheading an economic development research project considering how to capitalize on economic and tourism opportunities in the Kentucky Highlands.

As a summer intern in U.S. Representative Geoff Davis's northern Kentucky field office, Waters researched ways to showcase traditional Kentucky music forms in Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Lawrence and Lewis counties. In a multi-recommendation policy memo to state officials, Waters encouraged Highlands schools and communities to develop traditional music programs, allow families to borrow musical instruments, promote festivals and other traditional music events and schedule contests and performance opportunities.

"I grew up listening to bluegrass music, so I was glad to be of assistance to help find ways to better integrate the music into local culture," Waters said. She is now waiting for state representatives to take action on her proposals. "We are throwing crumbs out in the water, and hoping someone takes a bite," she said.

Waters also participated in the Congressional Leadership Program in Davis's office. She met state and local elected officials, economic and education development advisers, as well as state and local law enforcement officers.

"I knew this opportunity would let me get a feel for how things work in the political arena," Waters said.

And now that she has her driver's license, Waters said she hopes to earn a political internship in Washington, D.C., next summer.