Crafting a college experience

Craft Academy graduates describe life as college students at MSU


After graduating from the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics – MSU’s dual-credit, residential high school with a STEM+X curriculum – the class of 2017 completed 60 college credit hours and could choose to enroll in any number of higher education institutions to further their education.

Several decided to continue as MSU Eagles. We talked to a few of them about choosing to continue their college experience at MSU after graduating from the Craft Academy.

For more information about the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics at MSU, visit

Trulee Gilkison

Photo: Trulee Gilkison

As a 19-year-old college junior, Trulee Gilkison is excited that the Craft Academy has given her a head start on her college education. She plans to earn a Ph.D. and become a math professor to challenge students the way her professors have helped her.

Math is a favorite subject for Trulee Gilkison of Lawrenceburg, thanks in part to her mother, who is a math teacher.

In addition to knowing she wanted to study math, Gilkison also knew she wanted to go to a STEM school after seeing her oldest sister attend the Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University. She learned about the Craft Academy and immediately fell in love with the MSU campus and the close-knit sense of community she felt on her visit.

She is pursuing her passion while networking with others in her field. She is currently a math tutor on campus and is heavily involved in MSU’s Math Club.

“I’ve always had a calling to help people out and math is a really strong suit in my life,” she said. “I just feel like I’m called to teach.”

Mitchell Grothaus 

Photo: Mitchell Grothaus
As a chemistry major, he’s enjoyed continuing to work closely with professors on his research projects, which will prove helpful for Grothaus’ aspirations to continue his education in graduate school and eventually work for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Mitchell Grothaus always had an affinity for science and math growing up across the river from Cincinnati in Taylor Mill. When he joined his fifth-grade robotics club and qualified for a state competition, he knew he didn’t want a typical high school experience.

When he received a letter about the opening of the Craft Academy, he jumped at the chance to get away from home and experience an education tailored to his strengths. While attending Craft, he focused on chemistry and worked closely with Professor of Biology Dr. Janelle Hare.

In addition to the academic experience and benefits, Grothaus said he found an unexpected connection with his fellow Craft-mates.

“We all were just pushing to be the best we can possibly be, so we became close friends. We just felt like it would be a great thing to get to know each other and it turned out to be a really great thing,” he said. “The friendships I’ve developed through it are lifetime friendships.”

Nicholas Kessinger

Photo: Nicholas Kessinger
“I like the idea of an accelerated education. I also liked the fact that it assisted gifted and hardworking students,” Kessinger said. “I felt like it was something that would suit my needs.”

Since Nicholas Kessinger excelled in math and biology and didn’t feel challenged by his classwork, the Craft Academy seemed like a perfect fit.

Kessinger, of Louisa, enjoyed more than challenging courses at the Craft Academy. He was grateful for special field trips with students including a ski and snowboarding trip and education abroad to places like Germany, Switzerland and France to learn about renewable energy resources.

Even though Kessinger is 18, he is currently a junior at MSU thanks to credit hours he earned in the Craft Academy. He came to Craft to focus on biomedical sciences but is pursuing a degree in nursing to become a nurse anesthetist. Thanks to living on campus his junior and senior year of high school, the transition to being a full-time college student has been easier.