Published on June 8, 2016 by Mary Wimberley  
AGS 15

A total of 92 of Alabama’s best and brightest rising high school seniors will convene at Samford University Sunday, June 12, for the annual two-week Alabama Governor’s School honors program for academically gifted students. This year’s participants represent 54 high schools in 25 counties.

W. Randall Pittman, Samford vice president for university advancement, will speak at the opening ceremony Sunday at 2:45 p.m. in Samford’s Brock Recital Hall. His topic will be “Lessons on Leadership.”

During AGS, the students will attend morning and afternoon classes in major and minor areas of coursework. Major course topics include health care, law, business, research science, arts, video production, magazine writing and physics/engineering. Minor courses cover web design, photography, film studies, classics, field biology, astronomy, leadership, global citizenship, sports medicine and creativity.

According to AGS Director George Keller, the health-care course is a perennial favorite with participants.

“It’s always one of the most popular,” said Keller, now in his 16th year as director of the program that began at Samford in 1987. “Students are eager to learn more about this field, and the class fills up quickly.”

During daily morning seminars, the 20 students in this year’s class will take field trips to local hospitals to observe health-care workers in action. “Students don white lab coats as they learn about medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and other health professions,” Keller said. The course is led by Samford nursing professors Rebecca Warr and Jill Hightower.

Many former AGS students who took the health-care course as high school students have gone on to pursue satisfying careers in the profession, Keller notes.

One such AGS alumna is Amanda Tapley, now a resident in emergency medicine at University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. A former Miss Alabama and a talented pianist, Tapley will play the prelude and postlude at this year’s opening ceremony.

Birmingham physician Tyler Fuqua, founder and president of Not Forgotten ministry, will speak at an Insights dinner on Tuesday, June 21. Not Forgotten is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide for the physical, educational, emotional and spiritual needs of vulnerable children in Iquitos, Peru. Fuqua is assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at UAB School of Medicine.

AGS students will participate in a community service project in Woodlawn on Tuesday, June 14, attend a Barons baseball game, and enjoy other excursions and course-related field trips. They will also hear informative talks about the college admission process, scholarships and adjustment to college.

AGS participants are nominated by their schools on the basis of academic ability, leadership qualities, creativity and community service.  Selection is also based on teacher and guidance counselor recommendations, and written essays.

The closing ceremony will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 24, in Brock Recital Hall.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.