Twelve graduate from McConnell Scholars Program
Members of the McConnell Scholar Class of 2021 with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Sec. of Defense Mark Esper
Members of the McConnell Scholar Class of 2021 were recognized Sunday for their accomplishments at the University of Louisville. The group of 12 will graduate from UofL on May 8.
“This place—the city, the university, the people, all of it—has shaped me into a better person....I have had many long days and short nights of sleep this year from trying to manage all sorts of roles and responsibilities, but I will graduate in May with a full heart, nothing left on the table, and with no regrets.” — McConnell Scholar Ben Barberie ('21)
McConnell Scholars are offered numerous benefits including guaranteed full in-state tuition to UofL; mentored studies of leadership, citizenship and the liberal arts; international and domestic travel; and access to the McConnell Center's alumni leadership network.
Students are also offered off-the-record meetings with prominent political and civic leaders. During their tenure at UofL, the McConnell Scholar Class of 2021 met with (among others):
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch
- U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo
- U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper
- CIA Director Gina Haspel
- then U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer
- U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine
- Australian and Israeli ambassadors to the United States
“Your road had a few more twists and turns than some others have had,” McConnell Center Director Gary Gregg told the graduating class. “We ran into a pandemic without modern precedent, and it scrambled us for a while off our common road and onto unknown and solitary paths….May the road you take from here rise up to meet you. May you glance back, occasionally, to remember and revisit and give thanks for our times together.”
Sunday’s socially-distanced program celebrated the 26th class to graduate from the center. Graduating scholars and notable highlights include:
- Molly Baldock (Ashland, Ky.): Molly earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and economics. At UofL, she served as vice president of member education for the Kappa Delta Sorority, vice chair and outreach chair of the McConnell Scholars Program and associate supreme court justice for the student government association. Her honors thesis was entitled “The Influence of Gender on Interruptions in the U.S. Court of Appeals.” She will attend Notre Dame Law School in the fall.
- Ben Barberie (Lexington, Ky.): Ben earned dual degrees in political science (Bachelor of Science) and economics (Bachelor of Arts). At UofL, he served as the student government’s academic vice president, finance director and student outreach coordinator for raiseRED Dance Marathon, economic health ambassador for the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute and annotator and housing chairman for the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He is an applicant for a Fulbright scholarship to Malaysia.
- Grayson Ford (Cadiz, Ky.): Grayson earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics and was named Outstanding Graduate in Economics. At UofL, he was a member of the student orientation staff, new member educator for the Sigma Chi Fraternity, a Harlan Scholar and student outreach coordinator for the raiseRED Dance Marathon. Grayson will attend Texas A&M University School of Law in the fall.
- Eli Graft (Hebron, Ky.): Eli earned a Bachelor of Science Business Administration degree in business economics with minors in finance and political science. At UofL, he served as executive vice president of the interfraternity council, vice president of finance for Beta Theta Pi, member of the College of Business Student Council and vice president of fundraising for College Mentors for Kids. He has joined El Toro LLC in Louisville with plans to pursue an MBA degree in the future.
- Malcomb Haming (Louisville, Ky.): Malcomb earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. At UofL he served as director of government relations for the student government association and interned for state senator Julie Raque Adams and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell.
- Gzeonie Hampton (Radcliff, Ky.): Gzeonie earned a bachelor’s degree in English and political science (international relations track) with minors in social change and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. She also earned a certificate in peace, justice and conflict transformation. Her leadership positions included winning Miss Black and Gold, interning for Kentucky Refugee Ministries and studying Arabic language in Oman through a Critical Language Studies Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.
- Jacob Jones (Cynthiana, Ky.): Jacob earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history. His leadership positions at UofL included serving on the student orientation staff, as a cardinal guide and campus ambassador; serving as a senator for the student government association; being a member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity; and interning for state representative Thomas Burch. He will pursue a law degree in the fall.
- Emma Lawson (Springfield, Ky.): Emma earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and communication. She was named UofL Freshman of the Year, UofL Junior of the Year, UofL Sorority Woman of the Year and served as vice chair of the McConnell Scholars’ Council, among other awards. She is pursuing a master’s degree in political science with an emphasis in education policy.
- Isabella Martin (Somerset, Ky.): Isabella earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with minors in Russian studies and PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics). She was the director of diversity and inclusion for She Became, a coordinator for the UofL raiseRED Dance Marathon and new member educator for Chi Omega. She earned a Boren language award to Estonia.
- Dennis Don Nyasha Mashindi (Lexington, Ky.): Dennis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in public health with minors in political science and biology. He served as president of the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute’s Health Ambassadors Program and the African Student Union. He was a senator for the student government association and earned the Men of PEACC, Louisville Leadership and Humana Foundation Health leadership awards. He will pursue a master’s degree in global health at the University of Pennsylvania with plans to later attend medical school.
- George Nalbandian (Union, Ky.): George earned a bachelor’s degree in English and political science. He served as chief justice of the student government association’s supreme court, president of Alpha Tau Omega and team leader of the raiseRED Dance Marathon. He will pursue a Master of Arts degree in Early Modern English Literature: Text and Transmission from King’s College London in the fall.
- Jasmyne Post (Philpot, Ky.): Jasmyne earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with minors in psychology and economics. She served as executive director of UofL’s Engage Lead Serve Board and the Campus Y program. She will serve as a fellow with the Amate House program in Chicago, working as a prevention advocate for individuals who have experienced domestic abuse.