LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Two University of Louisville students have won top national scholarships from two different organizations focused on the U.S. Constitution.

    Michael Ryan-Kessler, a graduate student in history who teaches at Liberty High School in Louisville, is receiving a James Madison Senior Fellow Award. He is Kentucky’s only 2002 recipient of the scholarship, which will pay the rest of his graduate tuition up to $24,000 and send him to a four-week summer institute on the Constitution at Georgetown University in July.

    Congress established the independent James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation in 1986 to improve teaching about the Constitution in secondary schools.

    Jonathan Ballard, a sophomore biology major, is receiving the Ronald Reagan Future Leaders Award of Merit from the Phillips Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 1990 to advance the principles of the Constitution. He is one of only a handful of students in the United States to receive the $2,500 cash award, which he plans to use for graduate school.

    Ryan-Kessler, who received his bachelor’s degree in history and teaching certificate from U of L in 1993, took his first graduate-level history course in 1999. He has taught high school history for five years and hopes to finish work on his master’s degree in August 2003, he said.

    “Michael has a very inquisitive mind and he is one of the best students I’ve ever had,” said Benjamin Harrison, a U of L history professor who wrote a recommendation letter for his scholarship.

    Ballard, a McConnell Scholar and Overseers Scholar, plans to attend medical school after he receives his bachelor’s degree, he said.

    “Jonathan is an outstanding young leader in the classroom, on campus and in the community,” said Gary Gregg, director of U of L’s McConnell Center for Political Leadership.