Campus News

Torch Bearer, Torch of Excellence Awards Announced

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 16, 2016) Distinguished University of Kentucky students and alumni were honored with the Torch Bearer and Torch of Excellence Awards during the recent 26th annual Lyman T. Johnson Upholding the Torch of Excellence awards ceremony. The recipients are honored for significant contributions to the university and the community.

Chester Grundy, special projects coordinator for the UK Alumni Association, introduced keynote speaker Gerald Smith at the event.

Smith is a UK history professor, holder of the Theodore A. Hallam Professorship (2015-17) and the Martin Luther King Center Scholar-in Residence (2015-17). From 1997-2005, he served as the director of the African American Studies and Research Program at UK. A Lexington native and UK alumnus, Smith served as pastor of the Farristown Baptist Church in Berea from 2003-2011, and is the current pastor of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Lexington. He is the author, editor or co-editor of four books. He has published more than 40 articles, essays and book reviews in historical journals and encyclopedias. Smith has consulted on various historical projects, lectured on college campuses around the state, and conducted workshops for primary and secondary school teachers. He has appeared in historical documentaries on CBS, NBC, KET, the CBS Sports Network and TruTV. Smith is co-editor of The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, which received the Thomas D. Clark Medallion Book award in 2015. Smith is currently researching and writing a new general history on Kentucky African Americans.

Torch Bearer and Torch of Excellence award winners include:

Sylvester Miller II, College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Torch of Excellence

Miller is a 2008 graduate of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment with a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics. He is a former member of the UK football team and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Miller has been successful in an industry that has seen voids and challenges in diversity and inclusion, particularly in the sales role. He has excelled in roles with top agricultural firms such as Syngenta in Minnesota, where he has executed sales and marketing projects for fungicide, herbicide, seed treatment, and insecticide brands and developed “Go To Market” strategies and objectives that resulted in increased sales and market share over 15 percent. Miller now works for Fortune 500 company Monsanto in Waukee, Iowa, which he has accounted for $5.6 million in sales annually. He runs point for both upstream and downstream Monsanto seed treatment on corn and soybean.

Miller has been recognized by in the "Cambridge Who’s Who" among Agricultural Professionals, Cambridge Agricultural Professional of the Year, and a Cambridge Outstanding Agricultural VIP. He stays involved in developing the next generation of agricultural leaders through his work with the National Society of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences; FFA; and Agricultural Futures of America. He is on the board of directors for the Young Professionals of Agriculture in Iowa and participates in the World Food Prize.

Marcus Tyler Jr., College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Torch Bearer

Tyler is a junior at UK majoring in agricultural economics with a minor in business. He may be quiet in voice, but his efforts have a huge impact not only on this campus, but throughout the United States. In 2015, Tyler served as one of three students selected as a panel member at the Raising the Profile of Agriculture Forum at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Recently, Tyler was selected to be a member of the millennial panel at a conference sponsored by Bayer in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was the only student representative among leaders globally.

Additionally, he is the current undergraduate student national president of the National Society of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS). Tyler was elected national undergraduate president at the 2016 National MANRRS Conference last April. In his role, he travels across the country speaking on behalf of the organization, advocating for diversity in agriculture while leading more than 5,000 students representing 75 chapters in over 38 states. Additionally, Tyler is a student ambassador for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, where he focuses on student recruitment and alumni relations. He is also a John Deere Student Ambassador, a United States Department of Agriculture Earth Team Volunteer, and a treasurer for the Epsilon Chi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

Portia Burgess, College of Communication and Information (CI), Torch of Excellence

Burgess works for the UK Physical Plant Division (PPD) as a crew leader; the College of Communication and Information is one of her assigned facilities. She has been employed at UK for 26 years. She takes extreme pride in maintaining the upkeep of the Enoch Grehan Journalism Building. This is critical, especially when we are attempting to make a favorable impression upon prospective students and their parents.

Schyler Simpson, CI recruiter, said, “(Portia) is a friendly face and is great at her job. She goes above and beyond and gives 150 percent. She is always willing to pitch in even when it’s not one of her job responsibilities. She is a great leader, especially when it comes to training others.” Throughout her employment at UK, Burgess has received the CI Outstanding Staff Award and has been recognized as the Employee of the Quarter by PPD.

In addition to working at UK, Burgess is an accomplished seamstress. She makes dresses (including wedding and bridesmaid attire), formal and informal clothing. She specializes in designing African attire and sports related clothing and handbags. She also does alterations.

Taylor Gadberry, College of Communication and Information, Torch Bearer

Gadberry is a student leader who is highly ambitious. She has served as the president of the student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and was elected to serve two terms. She is a member of the Elite List, a student organization that focuses on public relations. Her responsibilities include serving as a reporter and running the news camera. Gadberry interned at WLKY news station in Louisville, Kentucky.

Not only is Gadberry involved in co-curricular activities, but she is able to balance these activities while maintaining a stellar GPA. Additionally, she studied abroad in Spain. Lastly, it is not enough for her to accomplish her goals, but she recognizes the importance of assisting others and regularly mentors other students in the college.

Denise Adegoke, College of Dentistry (UKCD), Torch Bearer

Adegoke is an outstanding student at UK, with an eager, sincere and collaborative disposition. She was selected and participated in the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Student Diversity Leadership Program Internship. During this internship, Adegoke spent a great deal of time working as a team member in the access, diversity and inclusion section of ADEA in research and strategic planning for the Student Diversity Leadership Program. Through this program, her curiosity, interest and engagement in the impact of the federal legislative process and public policy development grew tremendously. Additionally, she participated in the ADEA Student Diversity Leadership Program as a first-year student.

Adegoke has an altruistic spirit and is a servant leader. Her volunteerism prior to joining UKCD consisted of volunteering as a mentor and tutor to at-risk middle school students in her community in Florida, as well as serving in the role of director of community service for the pre-dental ASDA chapter and facilitating service activities and outreach for all of the students in the student organization. Additionally, Adegoke is a member of the American Association of Women Dentists, Delta Sigma Delta, a dental fraternity, and holds the position of secretary for the Student Research Group. 

Aprille Nelson, College of Dentistry, Torch of Excellence

Nelson is a strong and active member in the dental profession, as well as an alumnus of the UK College of Dentistry.

The college shared a quote from a current UKCD student about Nelson’s impact: “Dr. Nelson is caring, upbeat and dedicated to educating patients about oral health. Her friendly personality makes people feel welcome and at ease instantly. She has inspired others to relentlessly pursue their passion and achieve greatness. Furthermore, Dr. Nelson has been an important resource to Student National Dental Association. Her willingness to guide and advise students through the start to professional life has been a blessing. Dr. Nelson has been a source of encouragement and support for students and her peers.”

Candace Sellars McDaniel, College of Education, Torch of Excellence

McDaniel is an outstanding representative from the College of Education. She has two degrees from UK, was a founding College of Education ambassador and has a varied and rich career in education as an exemplar teacher and principal. She serves on several state committees such as the Kentucky National Institute for School Leadership, Public Education & Business Coalition Thinking Strategies, our own UK Next Generation Academy, as well as several others.

McDaniel served on the UK Alumni Board of Directors and as co-chairperson representing the College of Education. Additionally, she served on the College of Education Dean’s Advisory Board, UK's Strategic Planning Committee and the College of Education Teacher Education Program Committee, as well as worked as a mentor for Louisville Big Brothers Big Sisters. She has received several awards during her young career, such as Teacher Who Made a Difference from the UK College of Education and the UK Leadership Award and Spirit Awards. 

Lauren Weaver, College of Education, Torch Bearer Award

Weaver is a dedicated undergraduate student, and conscientious, industrious, compassionate and very intellectually capable of providing leadership. She has been involved in a number of public service activities that have demonstrated her leadership abilities: Synergy Service (hospitality ministry); African Students Association; UK Black Voices; Phi Sigma Theta; and Calvary Baptist Church, where she is a youth usher. 

Weaver also has excellent oral and written communication skills and has demonstrated a great deal of reliability, maturity and resourcefulness during her tenure. Furthermore, she has demonstrated excellent time management skills by successfully balancing outside activities and academic responsibilities. 

Qiana Milner, College of Engineering, Torch Bearer

Milner is the current treasurer for the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers at UK. She is finishing her second year in this position. She keeps up-to-date accountings of chapter monies using standard accounting and bookkeeping procedures; prepares an operating allowance budget for each of the chapter's activities thus allowing activities to be planned with the funds allotted for them; maintains possession of the chapter checkbook and signs all checks as approved by the president; presents a finance report at all executive board meetings; maintains a file of all bills and receipts of chapter purchases and reimburses any chapter member who presents a receipt for an authorized purchase by the chapter; orders food and drinks for each chapter meeting; and applies for phone-a-thon money and maintains contact with UK Student Government Association regarding funding availability. 

Milner has done an outstanding job in carrying out her duties for this position. This year, she has also taken on the responsibility to communicate with the chapter officers (president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, membership and social activities coordinator, community service chair, website and public relations chair, and engineering student council representative) on the activities of the chapter and distribution of officer meeting minutes. Her maturity in all these matters has been outstanding. In addition, she is an active participate in most of the community service projects of the chapter.

Senait Nuguse, College of Engineering, Torch Bearer

Nuguse is a junior in electrical engineering who demonstrates exceptional academic and leadership skills. She is the electrical team lead for the UK Solar Car Team, which designs, builds and races solar-powered cars across the country while also promoting STEM education and interacting with the local community to teach the value of alternative energy. Her role as electrical team lead involves responsibility for the electrical design aspects of the vehicle, coordination of all electrical aspects, and integration with other components. In addition, Nuguse is a strong student academically, and has significant industry experience through internships at both LG&E and KU Energy LLC.

Reginald D. Smith, College of Engineering, Torch of Excellence

Smith is a 1993 civil engineering graduate and Academic All-SEC linebacker on the UK football team. Upon graduation from UK, he worked for Messer Construction for seven years and then took a brief six-year stint in the structural steel fabrication business before returning to Messer Construction. He is a senior project executive in the company’s Lexington office and has been a prominent construction manager on projects such as the College of Pharmacy building, several UK dormitory projects, and most recently, is the lead for the demolition, renovation and new build on the UK Student Center project.

Beyond his successful professional career, Smith has served as the secretary on the board of directors for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass. He has been involved with the organization for many years and is extremely passionate about its mission. He also has been incredibly gracious to the UK College of Engineering and Department of Civil Engineering. He has given tours of his projects to students specializing in construction engineering and project management that provide unique, real-world insights to material that is delivered in the classroom. Smith has also donated his time to the college’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. He has often spoken at the group’s monthly professional meetings and has been a mentor to many minority civil engineers at UK.

Gabe Amponsah, College of Health Sciences, Torch of Excellence

Amponsah typifies the spirit of utilizing his education at UK to give back to his institution, the Commonwealth and his profession. He graduated from UK in 2008 from the graduate athletic training program in the College of Health Sciences. His outstanding performance as a student earned him an opportunity to join the UK Athletic Department in 2009 as a full-time athletic trainer to provide sports medicine services to the student athletes at our institution. 

Since joining that staff, Amponsah’s expertise, performance and dedication have resulted in a recent promotion to the position of head athletic trainer for football for the UK football team in 2015. He continues to serve the student-athletes at UK, while representing UK in a highly visible position both locally and nationally. He interacts with faculty, staff and students of the Athletic Department, the College of Health Science and the College of Medicine almost daily, while also providing mentorship to students pursuing the same degree that got him started on his path at UK. Amponsah exemplifies the spirit of the Torch of Excellence through his years of devotion to UK as a student, and now as an alumnus serving his alma mater in a prestigious staff position.

Carolyn Blissett, College of Health Sciences, Torch of Excellence

Blissett was selected to receive the 2016 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service. She volunteered as a provider of physical therapy in the UK student-run free PT clinic from 2014-2016. In addition to providing care under the supervision of licensed physical therapists, Blissett taught herself Spanish while in the DPT program by playing on a soccer team, attending a church in which services are held in Spanish, and watching Spanish language television. While accomplishing this, she became fluent in Spanish and then became certified as a medical interpreter and began volunteering in the free clinic for this role as well. 

During the DPT program, Blissett completed research that will be presented at the American Physical Therapy Association’s combined sections meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in February 2017. This research studied the perspectives of women in a poor Ecuadorian community regarding Bailoterapia, an exercise program aimed at improving the health of these women.

Blissett has accomplished much since coming to Kentucky as a 12-year-old from Jamaica. She has navigated a new educational system, completed an undergraduate degree and capped this off by completing a challenging DPT degree. Although she has just completed the DPT program, her tireless energy and positive spirit speak directly to the spirit of the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence award. She has committed to be involved in UK's DPT program as a community mentor for future students as well. Blissett’s energy and spirit will continue to inspire her patients and her community in the Elizabethtown area.

Deshana Collett, College of Health Sciences, Torch of Excellence

Collett has many accomplishments that make her an excellent candidate for the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence Award both as an alumni and as a faculty member. In a similar vein to Lyman T. Johnson, Collett has not let obstacles prevent her from gaining an education and from becoming a successful professional. Moreover, in the course of her career she has not forgotten to help others to reach their full potential. Reviewing her résumé it is easy to see that most of her efforts have been toward enhancing the sense of belonging of African-American students and positively impacting the African-American community.

She graduated with a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from the College of Health Sciences in 2003. As a student, Collett could occasionally be seen sitting in the back of the classroom with her young daughter quietly by her side. She had become a single mother at age 17 and it was clear that she struggled to meet the demands of both motherhood and being a full-time graduate student in a demanding program. For many teenage women, having a child means an end to their education. However, this was just one more obstacle for Collett to overcome. She had to fight through other adversities as well while fulfilling her goals toward an education. She was one of the brightest and most highly motivated of any students the program had enrolled and she not only finished her master’s degree in the College of Health Sciences, but since that time she has also completed a doctoral degree in studies in higher education.

Today, Collett uses her own story so that others can look at themselves in the mirror and change from telling themselves “it’s impossible” to “it’s possible.” She joined the Physician Assistant Studies faculty as an instructor in 2008 and in 2012 became assistant professor. She has been recognized for her teaching and academic leadership and received numerous awards.

As a faculty member, Collett has made major contributions to diversity and to helping Africa-American students become academically and personally successful. She has been a mentor to numerous African-American students in the Physician Assistant Program. Like Lyman T. Johnson, she has served as a source of inspiration and strength for many African-American students. In addition to serving as an advisor to individual students, she co-chairs the UK Unconscious Bias Student Subcommittee; serves as a member of the African American Faculty Advisory Committee to the Office of Inclusion and Diversity and as a member of the College of Health Sciences’ Diversity and Inclusivity Committee. She has served as a faculty mentor in the First Scholars Mentor Program and the Health Colleges Student Diversity Mentoring Moments Program. She also co-chaired a session titled “The First Amendment: The Patriotism of Protest” at UK Constitution Day. 

Within the Lexington community Collett has provided service to Commence Lexington Youth Leadership and to the Maxwell Elementary School Pipeline Project. She also serves as a member of Sayre School Cultural Competence/Anti-Bias Stakeholders Group and is a diversity, inclusivity and equity consultant to Lexington Catholic High School.

Amari D. Henderson, College of Health Sciences, Torch of Excellence

Henderson graduated from UK in December 2014 with a bachelor's degree in medical laboratory science (MLS) and a minor in communication. The upper division courses in MLS combine scientific knowledge with clinical application.  Although the pressures of UK's clinical courses can be challenging for some students, Henderson was always able to succeed and perform well. She maintained an excellent GPA which resulted in her receiving the College of Health Sciences Academic Excellence Award.

While in the MLS program, Henderson was the Beaumont Middle School Step Team Coach (fall 2013-2015), which included assisting in the development of step routines and assisting in the promotion of positive self-esteem and academic success. She also was vice president and historian of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. (Mu Epsilon chapter). This takes time and dedication since UK's MLS program is very time intensive.

Since graduation, Henderson has been employed a Saint Joseph Hospital Laboratory as a generalist MLS, and is working in all areas of the laboratory. She is interested in pursuing a career in dentistry and has done some shadowing and volunteering at Mission Lexington Dental which helps provide the underprivileged community with dental care.

One of Henderson’s biggest projects includes a nonprofit that she is the founder of called Sisters Obtaining Success (SOS). The mission of SOS is motivating and empowering young preteen and teen ladies. She has developed and implemented a mentoring program for girls ages 13-16 that assists in the promotion of positive self-esteem and academic success. She also volunteers for The Nest- Center for Women, Children and Families, cleaning toys and sorting donations.

Henderson is an absolute joy to be around and exudes confidence and positivity in whatever endeavors she chooses. From the service activities she has been involved in one can see how her hard work and determination has positively impacted the lives of people on the UK campus, the local community and beyond. 

Ashley Pittman, College of Health Sciences, Torch Bearer

Ashley Pittman is currently a student at UK. She demonstrates a sincere interest in learning and is a hardworking scholarly student. It is clear that Pittman is an organized, focused, energetic individual leading to her being highly productive. In addition, she is very personable, well-spoken and is well-respected by her peers and superiors.

Pittman is an excellent student, schola, and servant. She has been actively involved in research and presented the results at professional conferences including an oral presentation at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and a poster presentation at the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS). She has developed into a leader by assuming the role of president of the Medical Lab Science Club at UK and being an ambassador for the College of Health Sciences. In addition, she has impacted the community by being a part of the Gill Heart Junior Researchers; Pittman advised and mentored a diverse group of high school students from Bryan Station High School on how to pursue careers in the STEM fields as well as the medical field. She is also a part of the Big Brothers Big Sister organization.

Ismaila Ceesay, College of Law, Torch Bearer

Ceesay was instrumental in establishing the StreetLaw program at the UK College of Law where law students go into local high schools and teach students real-life lessons in law and government. A goal of the program is to empower high school students to go forward and make positive changes in the community, while also inspiring them to consider a future legal career. He served as president of the organization during the 2015-16 school year. Through StreetLaw, the law students spend a semester teaching high school classroom lessons in the areas of law that include civil, criminal, family, housing and employment law. The two participating schools are currently Bryan Station High School and Martin Luther King Jr Academy. For many of the high school students, the lessons are immediately applicable to their life experiences. For the law students, this practical experience causes them to be more in touch with the real-life impact of laws on citizens.

Ceesay has further impacted high school students by serving as a Kentucky college coach in AmeriCorps where he assisted high school students with matching the best colleges to their aspirations. He also previously served as a program coordinator for Caux Scholars Program, a summer program in Switzerland. Through this program, 20 diverse professionals from around the world came together to study conflict transformation and peace work.

Ceesay is committed to civil rights and social action, economic empowerment, education and human rights. In addition to attending law school, he is the manager of International Partnerships at the UK International Center. He will complete his law degree in December 2016.

Melynda Price, College of Law, Torch of Excellence

Melynda Price is the Robert E. Harding, Jr. Associate Professor of Law at the UK College of Law and the director of African American and Africana Studies in the UK College of Arts and Sciences.

Price joined the UK College of Law as an assistant professor in the fall of 2006 after completing her doctoral degree in political science at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation was awarded the 2007 Best Dissertation Award from the Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. In addition to her degree in political science, she also earned a juris doctor from the University of Texas School of Law in 2002. Price has a national impact through her research that focuses on race, gender and citizenship, the politics of punishment and the role of law in the politics of race and ethnicity in the U.S. and at its borders. In 2008, she was awarded a Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship. Price received a fellowship from Woodrow Wilson School’s Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA) and is spending the 2016-17 academic year at Princeton University. She will spend the year pursuing a project that analyzes how we understand activism among black mothers of murdered children.

Furthermore, Price is the author of "At the Cross: Race, Religion and Citizenship in the Politics of the Death Penalty" (Oxford University Press, 2015). Finally, Price impacts the campus and community at large in her role as a coordinator for the annual Black Women’s Conference sponsored by UK’s African American and Africana Studies.

LaJava N. Chenault, College of Nursing, Torch of Excellence

LaJava N. Chenault is native of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, and has been a nurse for over 40 years. She always knew she wanted to be a nurse and had an affinity for math and science. Interested in human behavior and interactions, always a caring person, she knew nursing was the perfect fit. Coming from humble beginnings and a single parent household, she had the support and backing of her mother, Carlena Walker, the person who most shaped her life. Chenault is a firm believer in affirmative action and states, “Without Affirmative Action, I could not have gone to school and become the success I am today.” With the help of a guidance counselor, academic and nursing scholarships, she enrolled in Eastern Kentucky University’s nursing program. As a first-generation college student, she had to develop a new way of thinking and learning, often wondering, “What have I gotten myself into?” Taking 19-21 hours a semester (no summers), she went straight through and “got in, got out.” Her nursing career began at St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington. She worked for a year in El Paso, Texas, rising to evening shift supervisor, before returning to Kentucky and St. Joseph Hospital. 

Back in Lexington, Chenault knew she wanted to be in a leadership position, but needed a higher degree. Encouraged by a mentor, she enrolled in the UK’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, graduating in 1988. She later completed a master's degree in nursing through the University of Phoenix. Her career at St. Joseph lasted over 40 years because she “believed in their mission” and in each position encountered “a new challenge and environment.” From her roles as staff and charge nurse, to unit manager and house administrator, and director to vice president of nursing (overseeing approximately 800 nurses), Chenault was always an advocate for nurses. Highly regarded, she has been active in Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honor society; the American Organization of Nurse Executives; the Kentucky Organization of Nurse Leaders; and the Lexington chapter of the National Black Nurses Association .   

Chenault married her husband Michael Chenault Sr., who she refers to as her soul mate and biggest supporter, in 1973. They have two sons, Mike Jr. and Timothy, in 43 years of marriage. Mike Jr. passed away suddenly at the age of 39, and Timothy served his country and is currently a military contractor in Kuwait. They have one grandchild, Jazmen Chenault, and one “honorary grandchild.” 

Chenault has received many awards over the years, including the Black Achievers Award, Our Nurses Have Values Award, Top Talent Recognition and the Lisa Mason Leadership Award. However, Chenault is most proud of being recently named the “Lay Person of the Year” by her church, where she serves as the health and wellness coordinator. She is a member of the Bourbon County Medical Outreach Committee and is proud of the work they do to help underserved senior citizens in the community. Chenault also serves on the College of Nursing’s Dean’s Diversity and Inclusivity Advisory Council and CNL Advisory Council.

Simone Curd, College of Nursing, Torch Bearer

Curd is a first semester senior in the College of Nursing and is described by those who know her as a leader with confidence and integrity. She is recognized by faculty and fellow students as someone who makes significant contributions to the success and well-being of others.

Curd is active in college, campus and community organizations. Her passion, working with neonates in the neonatal ICU (intensive care unit), was founded in her clinical work and classroom studies in the College of Nursing. Future plans include participating in mini medical missions, an interest she developed while studying in the international, interprofessional student clinical course — Shoulder to Shoulder in Ecuador in 2015.

Curd served as the nursing class president during her sophomore year. She is a member of the Student Nurses Association and was appointed service coordinator and secretary for the UK chapter. As a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she has engaged in service to the community by feeding the homeless at Rupp Arena and volunteering with God’s Pantry. Attending the Lexington chapter of the National Black Nurses Association is a priority for Curd. Through connections with the United Way, she volunteers at the William Wells Brown Elementary School helping with reading, school fairs and other classroom activities.

With her rigorous academic schedule and intensive responsibilities as a nursing student, Curd manages to find the time to serve her college, university and community.

Alex Marshall, College of Pharmacy, Torch of Excellence

After graduation, Marshall continued his research looking at the impact of alcohol abuse on the neuro-immune system, publishing five manuscripts since graduation. But unlike most postdoctoral experiences, he decided to combine his love of research with the opportunity to teach by seeking a fellowship that carved out time for teaching.

Marshall has taught at Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and most extensively, North Carolina Central University. His connections with various universities within the Research Triangle don’t stop at teaching, he has also actively participated in the Triangle Society for Neuroscience where he has served as the program chair and is currently the chapter representative. In that position, he has not only worked to put on programs for other neuroscientists including symposia and socials, but perhaps more importantly, he has helped the local body connect with community by participating in events like Black Genius Fest and the Science of Beer.

Outside of his professional endeavors, Marshall has continued working with groups that work to reduce the achievement gap in STEM including the Kappa Beautillion, Big Brother Big Sisters, Lexington’s BMW academy, and other tutoring programs.

Raeschell “Shelly” Williams, College of Pharmacy, Torch Bearer

Williams is a first-generation college student and one of three African-American students in a pharmacy class of 140 students. She has served as the president of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), a student organization aimed at “serving the underserved” in the community. Williams is also a member of the Chi chapter of Phi Lambda Sigma Leadership Society and an active member of the Professional Development and Recruitment (PD&R) committee of the Kentucky Alliance of Pharmacy Students.

Williams has earned Dean’s List designation in three of the six semesters of didactic coursework while pursuing a dual degree in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program. Along with her academic achievements, she was selected as a VA Learning Opportunities Residency (VALOR) pharmacy intern with the Lexington VA Medical Center, allowing her to further her clinical knowledge through rotational experiences at the VA.

More recently, Williams joined the professional affairs committee of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association (KPhA) with the hope that this opportunity will allow her to become more involved with pharmacy matters on the state level to further her community involvement.