For Caleb Eslinger, failure was never an option.
“We set a standard for him and he was expected to keep it,” said his mother, Christan Jones. “We never accepted anything less.”
The South Laurel senior, the son of Nathan and Christan Jones, said there were plenty of times he wished he could be just one of those kids who could do whatever they wanted, but he knew the goals he and his parents set for him were for his benefit.
“I have no regrets,” Eslinger said. “If I were left to do things myself I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Eslinger was recently awarded the Otis A. Singletary Scholarship, the most prestigious scholarship the University of Kentucky awards. The scholarship provides four years of full tuition plus a $10,000 per year housing stipend for the first and second years for students living on campus in a university residence hall. This year was the most competitive in the history of the scholarship, with over 2,200 applicants. The total value of the scholarship is $68,000. To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must have at least a 33 on the ACT or a 1490 on the SAT as well as a 3.80 weighted GPA. Eslinger has a 4.0 unweighted GPA and he scored a 33 on the ACT. He will be graduating Summa Cum Laude from South Laurel.
Eslinger said school work, up until his senior year, came natural to him.
“I never had to stress much,” he said. He is currently working toward his last report card with all As, something he has achieved every year since kindergarten.
“He’s never really had to study,” his mom said. “He’s so naturally gifted.”
For Eslinger, it was all or nothing when it came to the University of Kentucky.
“I never applied to any other college,” he said. “This (UK) is where I wanted to go. It was there or bust. I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.”
Eslinger plans to major in information and communication technology. He loves working with computers and coming in contact with people, and with this degree he can do both.
A testament to Eslinger’s dedication to learning can be found when his mother tried to inform him he had received the Singletary Scholarship.
Eslinger said his mother sent him a text while he was in school and asked him if she could call him. He told her no, he was in school. Once he did get to talk with her on the phone, she informed him that he was granted the Singletary Scholarship.
“I was awestruck,” Eslinger said. “I didn’t expect to get it. My mom was crying she was so happy.”
The list of Eslinger’s accomplishments is very impressive. He was a 2017 Kentucky Governor’s Scholar (a five-week program at Morehead State University where he studied Spanish language and culture), a member of the Beta Club (four years), National Honor Society (two years), and Band Tech Crew (one year); and won an Honors Science Award, Spanish I Mastery Award, Spanish II Mastery Award, Regional Language Bowl (second place Spanish Speaking Award), Honors English Award and Business Management Award. He was also a member of the soccer team (one year), swimming team (two years) and tennis team (one year). He has also volunteered for four years at Camp LEAP, the PHHCA Extraordinary Olympics for two years (he plans to continued volunteering with that group after college), and is a member of Old Union Holiness Church where he enjoys working in the church, especially Vacation Bible School each year.
The Singletary Scholarship wasn’t the only one Eslinger received. He was also awarded the Kentucky Governor’s Scholar Presidential Scholarship (which he received first) and the Kentucky State Elks Association Scholarship (one of 14 chosen out of 364 applicants). Once he won the Singletary Scholarship that would override the Governor’s Scholar Presidential Scholarship because of the higher value. He also applied and was accepted into the UK Lewis Honors College.
“It’s a crazy experience to know that I won’t have to pay for college,” Eslinger said.
“He’s a good kid,” his mother said. “Parents need to keep involved in their children’s lives and be as big a part of it as possible. Parents make a difference. They just need to make sure they know what their children are doing.”
Eslinger said he enjoys all his subjects, but math has been the most challenging.
“I’m taking AP Calculus and it’s a hundred times harder than anything I’ve taken,” he said.
He said history has also always fascinated him, and the one class that he’s really looking forward to taking at UK is Greek Mythology.
“I’m excited to be able to take that class,” Eslinger said. “You can take the lessons that those heroes learned and apply it to your own life. I’m also looking forward to being able to choose which classes I want to take, stuff that appeals to me. This is one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve had and I’m so glad UK picked me to represent them.”
“We want to thank God for His blessing on our family,” Jones said. “Without Him this wouldn’t be possible. We thank Him for everything he has provided for us.”