2017 graduate of Craft Academy and Hazard Independent Schools
Rebekah Vermillion was originally interested in pre-med “but that changed very fast,” she said. That was the whole point in going to Craft Academy, she said: “to explore career fields and to explore degree paths. With this, I was given an opportunity to explore and come into my own a little bit.”
In her second semester, she got involved in an archaeology research project that used drones to map out ancient Mayan ruins in Mexico before the site was razed for a road.
“That really sparked my interest in drone technology,” Vermillion said. But she also wants to dovetail that interest with another one: wildlife biology, specifically using conservation drones to track endangered animals. She is starting at Murray State University, which has the state’s only degree program in wildlife biology. But her goal is not to use her degree in some far-flung places.
“I want to do it here in Kentucky because I love Kentucky – it’s my home; I was born and raised in Hazard. I love southeastern Kentucky and so I want to work with the elk project in Hazard. My dream is to end up back in Hazard.”
2017 graduate of Craft Academy and Pendleton County Schools
Gracie Lustenberg wants high school students to know that there is room for the humanities at Craft Academy. She is a theater major, having performed in regional theater since she was a young girl.
Lustenberg said the STEM focus of the school is not at odds with her interests. “One of my favorite things I’ve learned to do here at Craft is coding websites from scratch, and I absolutely love that because I can use my artistic abilities as far as the creative side of what the website needs to look like, the style,” she said.
She said this first class of students at Craft is especially close – which has taught her something significant: “The most important thing to me is that family is always there for you and it doesn’t have to be your family family. These people here that I call my family also are here for me no matter what.”
Lustenberg said Craft gave her “an amazing opportunity.” She is double majoring in theater and strategic messaging in communications at Northern Kentucky University, with plans to be a performer or to manage a community theater.
Craft Academy senior, Bullitt County Schools
Garrett Jones has been interested in space science since he got a model rocket kit when he was 6–7 years old. He progressed from amateur rocketry to aerospace engineering and is studying space science at Craft Academy.
“The program at Morehead State is one of five in the nation, so it’s really great to be able to get into that area and experience the work they’re doing there,” he said.
Jones hopes to attend a college that has partnerships with aerospace companies, to further explore career possibilities that could include aircraft design and testing, unmanned aircraft or missiles and rockets. “There’s so much that’s not just the space program,” he said.
He said he appreciates the opportunities he has at Craft Academy to do research and hands-on work with professors. At Craft, he said, “You meet so many people that have a high-level mindset and are highly driven and ambitious, just like you. We all want to see each other succeed because we all have this great opportunity to be here.”
2017 graduate of Craft Academy and Montgomery County Schools
The Craft Academy helped Zeb Hart zero in on a career. At University of Kentucky this fall, he will major in mechanical or mining engineering. From there, it will be on to grad school to get an MBA or master’s in engineering, and then to law school.
“It’s all building up to intellectual properties law, trying to get a background that’s rich in technical stuff as well as more of social science type stuff,” he said. “I can work with inventors and people who are on the cutting edge of developing new great ideas, but I can also be working within the parameters of the law, both of which I think are cool. Being here helped solidify my interest in a career in law in that capacity.”
When he arrived at Craft, he was a self-described “homebody.”
“Part of the experience in a more personal way is I’ve developed a network of very cool individuals I can call my friends,” Hart said. The time management and other skills he has picked up at the residential high school also will help him in the transition to UK, he said.