Academic Program
Student Life
Selection Process
Important Dates
Academy Expectations
Faculty and Staff
Application Materials
Quotes About CHA
From Parents
Accepted Students

Randall Black

RANDALL BLACK, Academic Dean of the Commonwealth Honors Academy and professor of music, begins 14th year with the Academy (having served as Student Life Dean for the initial 13 years) and his twenty-eighth year of teaching voice at Murray State University. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Southern Illinois University (Music Department's Distinguished Alumnus Award, '96-'97) and his Master and Doctor of Music degrees from Indiana University. As a professional singer, he has appeared in the United States and Europe including performances with: Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony, St. Martin-in-the-Field Church in London, the Santa Fe Opera, and as a soloist in Carnegie Hall.

Dr. Black has served on the national board (Secretary/Treasurer) for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) as well as the NATS Foundation Board, and as regional governor for the National Opera Association. He taught for twelve years as a faculty member of the Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program, and has been recognized with Teaching Awards from the Music Department (Charles and Marlene Johnson Outstanding Music Faculty Award) and Murray State University (Regents Award). He and his wife, Kim, also a music teacher, have two children.

Jeff Wylie

JEFF WYLIE, Student Life Dean, is a social worker who has been teaching in the Social Work Program at Murray State University for the past 16 years. He is also an adjunct clinical instructor for the MSW program at Western Kentucky University. Jeff has an MSW and an MDiv degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and was a therapist and administrator with Four Rivers Behavioral Health in Paducah for 8 years working with families and children specializing in parenting and behavior disorders in children. He has worked with victims of sexual assault and supervised therapists in child advocacy and sexual assault centers as well as mental health therapists in the region. Prior to his career in social work, Jeff worked for 7 years as a staff person with Young Life - a Christian outreach program to un-churched high school students in Louisville and Bowling Green, KY. With Young Life Jeff served as a high school group leader and as area director for all the Young Life clubs in the area. Jeff's wife, Jennifer, is a physical therapist and together they have 3 adult children. In addition to teaching, Jeff is involved with his church, private clinical practice, and enjoys playing the guitar and the banjo, and fly-fishing.

Lori Rogers

LORI ROGERS is the administrative assistant for the Murray State Honors Program and the primary contact for prospective CHA students. Having served in this position for 24 years, Lori enjoys building relationships with both university Honors students and the CHA students. She was recognized in 2011 by the MSU Student Government Association for her commitment to students and their success with the Jim Baurer Staff Service Award given annually to one exemplary staff member. Her favorite part of CHA is watching the students build friendships within the CHA community.

She studied history at MSU and family history through distance learning courses from Brigham Young University and continues to pursue a BIS degree in those areas. Lori's interests include American history, genealogy, and cooking. She resides in Calloway County with her husband, Mark, and has a daughter, Brittiany, a 2006 MSU graduate.

Lori Rogers

COLIN LEE is from Owensboro, Kentucky and has been with the Commonwealth Honors Academy for six years as a Resident Counselor and Activities Coordinator. He graduated from Murray State in 2009 with a BA in Creative Writing and English Literature, and just received his MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University where he held a teaching fellowship, and won the Melanie Hook Rice award for the novel ('13, '14), and the Andrew Purdy award in short fiction ('14). He enjoys reading and writing, cycling and hiking, farming, gardening, and cooking. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia with his dog, Browndog.

Lori Rogers

ALLYSON TAYLOR, Counseling Director, is a licensed therapist in the Murray State University Counseling Center. Allyson has a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Murray State and has previously worked at the Purchase Area Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center. Allyson has received specialized training for working with trauma survivors that allows her to continue trauma work at Murray State and expand her practice to work with veterans. Allyson is also a trained yoga instructor and enjoys integrating yoga and mindfulness into her work and personal life. This is Allyson's first year with the Commonwealth Honors Academy, and she is excited to be a part of the CHA community. Allyson lives in Murray with her husband, Troy, and together they enjoy traveling, spending time in nature, and playing with their trained therapy dog, Digby.


Caroline Atkins

CAROLINE ATKINS is the director of the Training Resource Center at Murray State University. She is also an adjunct instructor for the Social Work Program and teaches exploring cultural diversity classes to students in the residential colleges, as well as to social workers and foster/adoptive families with the state social services agency. Caroline received her B.S. degree in Police Administration and a M.S. degree in Criminal Justice both from Eastern Kentucky University where she also served as an adjunct instructor. She is currently in her third year of a doctoral program in educational leadership at Western Kentucky University. Caroline has been a diversity workshop leader for 10 years and received her diversity certification from the National Coalition Building Institute, Inc. in Washington, DC. Caroline enjoys reading, running, gardening and crocheting. She has a daughter who is a senior at Murray State University and a black lab.

Marvin Denison

MARVIN DENISON is Upper School Head at University Heights Academy in Hopkinsville. After graduating from Russellville (KY) High School and attending Lindsey Wilson College, Marvin received his B.S. and M.A. from Murray State University. His experience at the independent school began as a history teacher and has included 10 years as Headmaster. He now serves as college counselor and teaches AP U.S. History and AP Government and Politics. Marvin was a founding member of the Hopkinsville Madrigal Singers, sings bass with the Chancel Choir of First United Methodist Church, and has served on the boards of the Hopkinsville Community Concert Association and the Pennyroyal Arts Council. He is an active member of the Athenaeum Society of Hopkinsville. Marvin and Cathy (Knight) have two children, Erin, co-owner of Bluegrass Cheercats, and Adam, a May 2008 graduate of Murray State’s music department. During this summer and fall, Adam is performing on Royal Caribbean Cruises in the Mediterranean Sea.

Laurie Edminster

LAURIE EDMINSTER is a National Board-Certified English teacher at Murray High School. She has also taught courses for future English teachers at Murray State University. Laurie received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Clemson University and has been teaching for twenty-five years. She has taught a variety of courses, ranging from traditional English classes to creative writing, speech communication, southern literature, and drama.

Laurie has been married for twenty-two years and has three daughters: Ashlee, Lauren, and Hannah. She enjoys singing, reading, writing poetry, and spending time with family. This is Laurie's twelfth year working with CHA, and her favorite part of the program is getting to work with old and new friends while teaching students who possess a sincere desire to learn and grow.

Cynthia Gayman

CYNTHIA GAYMAN is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of English and Philosophy, Murray State University. Educated at Seattle University and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, she specializes in American pragmatism, existential philosophies, and feminist theory. Recent articles include, "Politicizing the Personal: Thinking about the Feminist Subject in Michel Foucault and John Dewey," (Foucault Studies, Issue 11, February 2011), and an essay, "An Ethical Account of the Self Who Might Be Otherwise: Simone Weil and Judith Butler," in "The Relevance of Simone Weil: 100 Years Later," edited by Rebecca Rozelle-Stone and Lucian Stone (Continuum International Publishers, 2010). She has published articles in Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Contemporary Pragmatism, Metaphilosopy, and Southwest Philosophy Review. Her current work focusses on trauma in relation to the self, and the transformative possibilities of suffering. She has one son, Solomon, and a cat named Miles.  She lifts weights and practices yoga.


Cynthia Jones

CYNTHIA JONES is a National Board-Certified English teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky. A western Kentucky native, she received her Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Kentucky and her Master's degree from Georgetown College. She teaches traditional English classes as well as AP Literature and Composition. She has done newspaper and magazine writing. She was recently honored with a Fayette County Public School's FAME Award where graduating seniors are given the opportunity to publicly thank a teacher who made a difference in their educational experience. Cynthia has been married for 23 years and has three active sons: Nathan, Lewis and Will.  She enjoys writing poetry, cooking, listening to music and watching her sons play soccer and baseball.


Glenn Leckie

GLENN LECKIE received his Bachelor of Fine Arts, Masters in Education and +30 in Administration from Murray State University. Glenn began his teaching career with the Dawson Springs Independent School District where he taught Visual Art, Gifted and Talented, Social Studies and Kentucky History. When the opportunity came to move back to Murray, Glenn took the Visual Art position for Calloway County High School. During this time, his other duties included Yearbook Sponsor, Extended School Program Coordinator and Resource Teacher for the Kentucky Internship Program. Not long after relocation in Murray, Glenn was asked to become an adjunct with the MSU Art Department, where he taught Art Materials and Techniques for the Classroom Teacher, Introduction to Drawing, Life Drawing, and Art Appreciation.


Melanie McCallon

MELANIE McCALLON, a promising interculturalist and study abroad leader, currently serves as the Associate Director for Education Abroad. Melanie earned a Bachelors in English and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She taught English as a foreign language in Japan, and teaches ESL, Humanities, and Gender Studies courses at MSU. Her book Faculty-Led 360: Guide to Successful Study Abroad helped set the standard for faculty training and program design in short-term study abroad. She delivers workshops on and often serves as a consultant for faculty training and was featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education's series 'Innovators in Internationalization' for faculty preparation and course design at MSU. She is proud to say she has led hundreds of students to cultural exploration across the globe and brought all of them back alive. Current endeavors include supporting the wild dreams faculty come up with for study abroad courses abroad and basking in the still-cool life of mom to a nine-year old. .


John Muenzberg

JOHN MUENZBERG is a Lecturer of English and Philosophy at Murray State University. John teaches various Philosophy courses along with Murray State’s core course in Humanities. At Marquette University he helped develop a logic and critical thinking curriculum based on library and information literacy. At Winona State University John enjoyed working in the interdisciplinary War, Peace and Terrorism minor. John has recently presented two papers, “What Duties do we owe Corporations?” and “A Critique of Historical Theories of Pre-Greek Science.” His current professional development concerns developing online strategies for teaching Humanities, and teaching Philosophy through literature. A recent transplant from Wisconsin, John still does not like the summer heat.

Danielle Nielsen

DANIELLE NIELSEN, Instructor of Interdisciplinary Humanities and Fine Arts, is an Assistant Professor of English at Murray State University. Danielle holds a PhD in English with an emphasis in Writing History and Theory from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. Her research interests include colonial rhetoric and discourse and Victorian and Edwardian British Literature. At Murray State, Danielle teaches Introduction to English Literature, Critical Reading, Writing, and Inquiry, Advanced Composition, and advanced professional writing courses such as Writing for the Web and Advanced Technical Writing and Editing.

Taufiq Rashid

TAUFIQ RASHID hails originally from Pakistan and Bangladesh, but he is currently on the History faculty at Murray State, where he teaches World Civilizations and Western Tradition courses and is the coordinator of the university Humanities program. He received a B.S. in Economics from the University of Kentucky and a M.A. in Political Science at Indiana University, where he also pursued doctoral studies in International Political Economy.

Shayna Hall

SHAYNA HALL is a CHA alumni who has just finished her sophomore year at Murray State University where she is pursuing a degree in English Education with secondary certification. Shayna enjoys working with kids. She currently works with upper elementary students at an after school program throughout the school year. She is very excited to work with the students at CHA, gleaning more experience with the age group she one day hopes to teach. As a first-time RC, Shayna is thrilled to be a part of CHA and is anxiously awaiting the chance to get to know her new CHA family for the summer!


Megan Heller

MEGAN HELLER is a senior studying English education who recently completed her Honors thesis pertaining to teaching high school seniors. Her current campus involvement includes the following: the Honors Program Student Council, All Campus Sing, Regents Residential College Council, First Year Leader, as well as working as a College Head Assistant. She enjoys traveling and will soon add Australia and New Zealand to her travel log. This will be her second summer at CHA and she is thrilled to take on this pursuit of excellence with the students!

Kenny Martin

KENNY MARTIN is a CHA alumni who recently graduated with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from Murray State University. During his time at Murray State, he was an active member of the Murray State Honors Program, serving as the Athletic Director for the programs' intramural sports teams. He also spent three years as the marketing and promotions intern for Murray State Athletics. He has a passion for sports, movies and music. This is Kenny's first year as a resident counselor for CHA and he is excited to spend his summer working with these bright, young high school students.

Molly Nimmo

MOLLY NIMMO is a vocal music education major at Murray State. During her time at MSU, Molly has been an active member of Sigma Alpha Iota international music fraternity, participated in Campus Lights and All Campus Sing, and performed in the Concert Choir and Chamber Choir. She has also served for two years as a Resident Advisor for Hart Residential College and will be returning as the College Head Assistant this fall. Molly is currently a member of The Muses, a female a cappella group on campus and will be traveling to Germany this summer to participate in the International Performing Arts Institute's opera program. She is very excited to be serving as a resident counselor for the second consecutive summer!


Sierra Sauer

JACOB A. PAUL is a senior studying vocal music performance at Murray State University. He enjoys singing, dancing, acting, and reading. After graduating Valedictorian from Hickman County High School, Jacob came to Murray State University to march with the Racer Band. In addition to marching four consecutive seasons, he has also performed with the Concert Choir and Opera Workshop ensembles since 2009. He has been a part of numerous shows throughout his studies at Murray State and some of his favorites include: Beauty and the Beast, Anything Goes, The Drowsy Chaperone, Honk!, and Orpheus in the Underworld. After graduating in May of 2015, he hopes to attend Indiana University at Bloomington or the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati to obtain a Master's Degree in Voice. During the summers of 2012 and 2013, he served as an RA with the Governor's Scholars Program at Bellarmine University. He is excited about his first summer with CHA!



Contact Information
: 304 Lowry Center / Murray State University / Murray, KY 42071-3318 / 1-270-809-3166 / lrogers@murraystate.edu
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