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Seventeen-year-old Grace Edens studies late into the night in her dorm room at Craft Academy for Academic Excellence in Science and Mathematics, a program at Morehead State University. The academy selects high-achieving teenagers from across Kentucky to enroll as college students and pursue careers in STEM fields.

Ahead of her time

story by Anna Miller

It’s 11:48 p.m., and Grace Edens has hit a wall. She has spent the last hour on statistics homework and still needs to study for a midterm. That’s a lot for any college student, but Grace is a 17-year-old high school student attending Morehead State University's Craft Academy for Academic Excellence in Science and Mathematics.

The program selects high-achieving Kentucky teenagers to enroll as college students at MSU. During her application interview, Grace told the admissions panel, “I might not be as naturally bright (as other students), or have a 36 on the ACT, but I will outwork anyone. I will outstudy anyone. I have the work ethic to do this.”

To maintain her 3.96 GPA, she manages her time carefully, sometimes down to the minute. To decrease the stress and anxiety, Grace blocks out time for her boyfriend, J.D. from 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and then calls her dad at 9:50 p.m. before she goes to back to the books. Grace hopes that the hours of studying will be worth it in the future.

“I want to not have to worry about what’s in my bank account,” says Grace. “Can I afford to get these groceries? Can I afford to get my kid braces? Can I afford to take a day off? . . . I want to have safety and security.”

She also has the weight of her parents' expectations on her shoulders.

“(Every) time you raise the bar, you have to surpass it. OK, I got all A’s in high school, and now that I’m in college I have to get all A’s too . . . My parents were OK that I got a B in calculus . . . (but) I was crying.”

In spite of mounting stress, Grace decides to push through, striving for her next A.

“If I get a lot done, I rest easy at night. If I don’t get a lot done, then I feel bad at night and it’s hard for me to sleep.“


Minutes before curfew, Grace studies the notes and diagrams she drew on a whiteboard in preparation for a government midterm and anatomy quiz.


Passersby ask Grace for directions on the Morehead State University campus.


Grace works on an English paper at her favorite spot in the library. "It’s real pretty. It’s really old school…all of the chairs creak," she says.


Grace Edens laughs at a professor's quip during government class. Grace, a high school student with the Craft Academy for Academic Excellence in Science and Mathematics, raised her hand more than any student during this lecture.


Drinking directly from a water jug is a habit that Grace picked up from her dad.


Grace Edens has breakfast with her boyfriend and fellow Craft Academy student, John Kincaid (J.D.), in the Morehead State University dining common before class.


"Your hair is the crowning jewel of your face," says Grace. She wakes up an hour early to straighten and curl her hair before class.


J.D. gives Grace a comforting hug and listens to her talk about her day.


Grace s exhausted after hours of homework. "I think I might cry if I get this problem wrong," Grace says.

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