picture of paul finney

Finney will attend college at sixteen

by Sharon Sahlfeld, Beloit Call Editor | January 13, 2017

While most sixteen year old teens are thinking about their next high school pop quiz, Beloit High School sophomore Paul Finney has his sights on an early college enrollment.

Finney has been selected to attend Fort Hays State University as a high school junior in the fall of 2017 as part of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS).

"I am on cloud nine," said Finney. "I knew I had a chance but never thought I would be chosen on the first screening to secure me a spot for this fall. I have a lot of interest in Math and Science and this will help me further my choices I make to continue in these fields."

This is the ninth year for the KAMS program which was established in 2006 for the state's best and brightest high school students. Finney will be contacted with confirmation papers, interviews by phone and online for his preparation into the program along with an orientation process. He has been planning for the chance at this program for a long time and has worked on the requirements for the chance to be accepted. Algebra had to be taken at the junior high level and the Beloit schools have helped him prepare for his goal through his years of attendance.

"We are incredibly proud of Paul and his acceptance into KAMS," said Beloit Junior/Senior High School Principal Casey Seyfert. " This is a great honor that he has worked incredibly hard to achieve. Paul has committed himself to a higher education at a very young age and this will serve him well for his future career. We are very excited for what the future holds for Paul and know he will do great things."

Finney was chosen as one of twenty students for the early admission process. Ten students were ranked first in their class. All students accepted have a 3.75 grade point average or higher and 15 students have 4.0 GPA's. Students selected are also leaders in their schools and communities.

The FHSU acceptance letter expressed their excitement that Finney's spot in the program has been secured.

"The selection committee was impressed with your application and are very excited to have you as part of the KAMS and FHSU family," said KAMS Director Dr. Roger Schieferecke.

"I have known about the program for a long time," Finney said. "I felt it would be a challenge for me and my sisters attended FHSU and recommended it to me as well. My parents have been with me every step of the way."

A ten plus application was prepared for the program with multiple questions to be answered about Finney. He provided a written essay about himself and his parents wrote essays as to why they approved of their son attending the program.

The college program will pay a full tuition for Finney but he will be responsible for the cost of his housing and food plans.

" I will take a lot of what I own with me," Finney said. "I' will have to provide some desk materials and a refrigerator."

With his advanced college enrollment, Finney will be moving at a faster pace with a lot of studying as he is preparing for approximately 51 hours plus, in the books. He will be taking college courses, not high school courses. His first year curriculum consist of a Fall Semester (17 credit hours): Pre-Calculus; University Chemistry I and Lab; Apparent/Geosciences: Earth, Space, Science, Research and Writing; English Composition I; US History Before 1877. Spring Semester (14-16 credit hours): Calculus I; STEM Elective; English Composition II; US History Since 1877. His second year will consist of Fall Semester (18 credit hours): Calculus II; Principles of Biology; Physics for Scientists and Engineers I; Departmental Research and Writing; Elective. Spring Semester (16-18 credit hours): Social Science Elective; STEM Elective; American Government; Computer Science Elective; Departmental Research and Writing.

Every student in KAMS is required to present research during their two years in the program. While conducting their research, the students will work with the faculty that will mentor and foster a positive environment. Previous students have presented their research at the Regional, State, and Intel International Science and Engineering Fairs as well as at the capitol in Topeka.

With Finney's attendance, he will receive college-level instruction from the highest degree awarded graduate faculty. He will earn his high school diploma and an extra 68 hours of college credit and take part in hands-on research by Ph.D scientists. Finney will be able to take part in leadership development and civic engagement opportunities, co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities to develop the whole student on a safe campus and residential environment with a trained support staff. He will be staying on campus where they have special resident assistants specified specifically for their age groups.

"I am excited more than anything," said Finney. "I have been to the campus numerous times through different camps and while visiting my sisters, so I am very familiar with it."

Finney has been involved in high school scholars bowl, music and orchestra and basketball. He will be able to take part in the college quiz bowls, special clubs such as chess club and to also take part in the orchestra program. Finney expressed he would probably be too busy studying to do much more of anything else.

Paul Finney is the son of David and Karen Finney, Beloit. He is the youngest of four siblings including his sisters Ashley and Shelbi and brother Ben.

"We are nervous and excited for Paul," said mom and dad. "But no more than we were when both our girls left for Fort Hays. Both girls were Resident Hall Advisors for the KAMS kids in Custer Hall while in college. We are very comfortable with the security and curfews put in place for these younger kids."

When finished with the program, Finney will be able to graduate with his Beloit High School graduating class. He will also be able to attend special school functions, such as homecoming's and prom's.

 " I was born and raised in Beloit and will take my academics learned here with me," said Finney. "I think the teachers have done a good job in preparing me. Overall, I am very proud of myself. I will miss my family but this is going to definitely advance my studies. I see it as a great opportunity and whatever it leads me to, will be a great next step in my life."

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