Top Honor for Top Dogs: Chamblee Governor’s Honors Program Finalists Celebrate Acceptance


Photo courtesy of Lucy Roberts.

Polaroids that junior Lucy Roberts reminisces on from last year’s Governor’s Honors Program session.

Every summer, approximately 3000 sophomore and juniors from across Georgia apply to the Governor’s Honors Program (GHP)—out of these applicants, 700 are invited to attend. For many, it is an honor to be selected for this engaging four-week academic immersion program. This year, 10 Chamblee students were accepted, and three were chosen as alternates for the 57th annual program. The accepted students are from many different departments:

  1. Rachel Lee (Mathematics)
  2. Victor Lim (Mathematics)
  3. Aaditya Saha (Mathematics)
  4. William ‘Farley’ Wall (Mathematics)
  5. Sooriya Senthilkumar (Science: Biology)
  6. Iris Tsouris (Visual Arts)
  7. Sanjeev Anand (World Languages: German)
  8. Alexander Jovanovic (World Languages: German)
  9. Edwin Lee (World Languages: German)
  10. Kai Neuhaus (World Languages: German) 
  11. Owen Oertell (Alternate—Engineering: Computer Programming)
  12. Megan Woo (Alternate—Music: Flute)
  13. Rajan Karsan (Alternate—Science: Biology)

Chamblee students had many different motivations for applying to GHP. Junior Farley Wall applied because of the promise of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I thought it would be a great way to spend my summer and to gain new experiences,” said Wall. “Many of my friends had gone through GHP for either math or German and they played a big part in encouraging me to apply. They told me about how much they enjoyed the program and how they got to know others with similar interests.”

Junior Iris Tsouris, who applied for GHP last year as well but received an alternate status, felt the opportunity to attend GHP was worth another try.

“Ms. Guyton was my recommending teacher last year, and she had sent another art student there previously if I remember correctly,” said Tsouris. “I remember her telling me that people make lifetime friendships at GHP. It’s not just a place where you have an incredible opportunity to create art; it’s also a place where the community is so strong it’ll leave you with a lasting impression. […] This year, I applied again just because last year didn’t work out, and I ended up getting in.”

With so many subjects to choose from, Tsouris wanted to apply to the one that spoke to her the most. 

“I chose art because I can’t imagine going for any other subject,” said Tsouris. “Art is so central to my personality, and it’s something I’ve been doing for so long.”

Junior Victor Lim, on the other hand, wanted to take math to broaden his knowledge of conceptual ideas.

“I applied to GHP as a math major because it’s always been such a big part of my life, and there are just some math topics that I’m interested in that do not align with the school curriculum,” said Lim. “Also when [Tulchinsky] writes you a recommendation, you don’t say no.”

Junior Rachel Lee also chose math, mainly because she sees it as a way to connect to others that share her same passion.

“Math to me is something that first of all, I can connect to a lot of my friends with,” said Lee. “I’ve been doing Math Team since third grade, and it’s something I literally grew up with. And honestly, when I meet up with people, and I say that I’m really into math, it’s something that we can connect over. […] Also, math can be applied a lot in real-life situations to the point where it’s a lot of fun seeing the math in literally everything.”

One of the advantages of GHP is that it is entirely free, as it is funded by the state.

“It’s free for four weeks which is honestly a great deal. [Most similar programs] cost anywhere from $4000 to $6000,” said Lee.

While the potential payoff is great, one must be willing to spend a lot of time on the GHP application process.

 “The interview process was strenuous,” said sophomore Sanjeev Anand. “I had to complete an application for the district, get a teacher recommendation, attend a district interview, complete a state application with essays I had to write, and again get the same teacher to recommend me, and [complete] a state interview. However, I feel it was all worth it.”

Because GHP is such a time commitment, the nominees do not recommend going through the whole process just for the sake of building your resumé. 

“[Make sure you] really find yourself and your passion and learn why you actually want to do this,” said Lee. “Going for the sake of going is not actually a valid reason for making it; it’s going for the sake of passion because you [have] got to really like [what you’re doing].”

For different majors, however, the process can look slightly different.

“For art, you have to make a video presenting your portfolio at the state level, along with essays you have to write. This is all after you move on from your district interview,” said Tsouris. “If you pass the state level, you get interviewed at Berry College which is where GHP is held. There, you have to do a portfolio review and take an art history and vocabulary exam, but what sets people apart is the passion they show during the interview. […] For most majors I believe, they ask why you chose your major and what experiences you have with it and why you’re so passionate about it and demonstrating that in words is really important.”

Once the process was all over, Chamblee’s accepted students were beyond excited for the opportunity. 

“When I found out I got in, I was surprised because I knew there were a lot of smart people I was competing with,” said Wall. “The more I waited to hear if I got in, the less confident I was in my chances. I knew almost everyone’s interview had gone well and, more than anything, I was relieved that I got in.”

Unfortunately, given the COVID-19 outbreak, GHP officials are uncertain whether the program will occur this summer. 

“There are three options: the first is that GHP will be postponed to July when hopefully the situation is a little less [intense],” said Tsouris. “The second is that GHP will be shortened, which isn’t great but it’s better than it not happening or happening online. The third is that GHP won’t happen at all.”

For now, all accepted students can do is hope for the best.

“I really hope that GHP does take place this year but I do fear that the chances are slim,” said Wall. “There is a possibility that this lasts for another couple of months and that we aren’t able to attend the program. I do look forward to the program if it does happen, and I’m excited to get to know others participating in the program.”