Campus News

Watch Live: UK Celebrates the Class of 2017

Watch the May 2017 Commencement Ceremonies here. Please ensure your computer/device's software is up to date.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2017) — The University of Kentucky will honor its newest alumni today and Sunday at what is expected to be the largest commencement in UK’s history.

The May 2017 Commencement Ceremonies will be held across four ceremonies Friday, May 5, and Sunday, May 7, in Rupp Arena. The university made the decision to move from three to four ceremonies earlier this year to accommodate the dramatic increases in the number of graduates and families and friends attending Commencement. Doctoral, master's and baccalaureate degree recipients will now be recognized together based on their colleges.

More than 2,500 undergraduates and 600 graduate and professional students are expected to participate in the ceremonies. Overall, 3,680 undergraduate and 1,767 graduate and professional degree candidates had their degrees approved by the UK Board of Trustees at its May 2 meeting.

Ceremonies include:

Friday, May 5:

Sunday, May 7:

All four ceremonies will be livestreamed on UKNow.

Graduate Stories

While all graduates are celebrated for their tremendous achievements, many have particularly interesting stories to share about their lives and time at UK.

  • Evelyn Akhator, who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, transferred to UK in 2015 and soon become one of the greatest basketball players in Kentucky women’s basketball history. Akhator, who says she almost gave up basketball after the accidental death of her mother in 2013, recently became the highest WNBA Draft selection ever from UK, going No. 3 overall to the Dallas Wings. She will receive her degree in community leadership and development from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment in the 10 a.m. Friday ceremony. She plans to pursue nursing after her professional basketball career is finished because she wants to be able to help people back in her home country. Akhator is a two-year member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Academic Honor Roll. 
  • Sue Walter, a nontraditional student originally from London, Kentucky, will receive a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the 2 p.m. Friday ceremony. She also will receive a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Walter has three children, all of whom are currently attending UK, one in the Gatton College and two in the College of Engineering. While she and her husband live in South Carolina, she has been renting an apartment in Lexington as she completes her studies. She said the students in her classes treat her just like one of them and she feels right at home on campus.
  • Barbara Palmquist, an “approaching retirement” UK employee in Enrollment Management, will receive a bachelor’s degree in geography from the UK College of Arts and Sciences after 23 years of taking one class at a time using the UK Employee Education Program (tuition waiver for employees). But she’s not stopping there — she wants to start on her master’s degree as soon as possible. She loves her job in Enrollment Management and is taking classes truly for the sake of learning. This is a big week for Palmquist — she’s also celebrating her 47th wedding anniversary this week, and her first grandchild is just one week old. Palmquist will participate in the 10 a.m. Sunday ceremony.

Read more stories about UK's May 2017 graduates.

Student Speakers

In addition to UK President Eli Capilouto, a student representative will address the audience at each of the ceremonies, as per UK tradition.

  • Savanah Sellars, from Yorkville, Illinois, is graduating with a bachelor's degree in integrated strategic communication from the UK College of Communication and Information. She will deliver the Commencement address at the 10 a.m. May 5 ceremony.  
  • Shaimaa Abdeljaber, from Lexington, is graduating with a bachelor's degree in communication sciences and disorders from the UK College of Health Sciences. She will give the Commencement address at the 2 p.m. May 5 ceremony. 
  • Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle, from Nigeria and Ghana, is graduating with bachelor's degrees in international studies and English from the UK College of Arts and Sciences. She will give the Commencement address at the 10 a.m. May 7 ceremony. 
  • Natalie Hewlett, from Georgetown, Kentucky, is graduating with bachelor's degrees in secondary English education from the UK College of Education and English in the College of Arts and Sciences. She will give the Commencement address at the 2 p.m. May 7 ceremony. 

Read more about the student speakers here.


All four ceremonies will be streamed live at, the university’s news website. Full video of each ceremony will be available within two weeks after Commencement on the university’s YouTube channel,

Social media users are encouraged to use the hashtag #UKgrad.

For more information about UK Commencement, visit

photo of commencement stage

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue