Keith Hautala

Not Sure if UK is for You? Come “see blue.” for Yourself!

Published: Mar 5, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 5, 2013) — Every year, high school juniors and seniors come to visit the University of Kentucky from all over the state, and from as far away as Atlanta and St. Louis.


They pile into buses for the long ride to Lexington, sometimes leaving home as early as 3 a.m. When they arrive, they're treated to a full day of activities on campus, starting with breakfast and continuing well into the afternoon. It's all part of a unique program called Come “see blue.” for Yourself, designed to motivate a desire in these students to become future Wildcats. 


The program is the distillation of 20 years of concerted recruiting efforts. It began in 1992 as an initiative by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, now the Office for Institutional Diversity, to increase enrollment of minority groups that were historically underrepresented on campus, particularly black students. Emmett "Buzz" Burnam, UK's director for diversity recruitment, has provided leadership to the program since the beginning.

"There was a widespread — although by no means unanimous — perception back then among African Americans that 'UK is not for us,'" Burnam said. "We started out by asking 690 black UK students why they chose to come here. And what we found out, time and again, was that it really made a difference when they were able to come here and see for themselves what UK had to offer them personally."


Burnam found that many African-American students, even those who came from bigger cities like Louisville, were accustomed to having the support of smaller, tight-knit communities — in their schools, their churches, and their neighborhoods. They wanted to know that if they came to UK they would not feel alone or out of place. They wanted to know what sort of support was available to them if they came here. They wanted to know where students like them go to study, what they do for fun and recreation, and where they go when they just want to hang out.


"When you come to a new school — anybody coming into a new place, but especially as a minority — you want to see people who look like you, who talk like you, who understand you, who like the same kinds of things as you," Burnam said. "Part of the university experience is being exposed to new and different kinds of people and ideas and ways of life, but nobody wants to feel like they are out there on their own. It's important to know that you're welcome."


So, Burnam invited prospective students to come see for themselves, and he set out to showcase diversity at UK, paying particular attention to the special interests of black students. The first Come “see blue.” for Yourself events were held in 1992, with about 200 students from a handful of Louisville high schools visiting UK's campus over four separate dates.


Over the past two decades those numbers have grown steadily. During the current school year, there have been 12 Come “see blue.” for Yourself days, with 3,338 college-ready students attending from 96 different schools, churches and community programs, including 10 out-of-state schools.  Thanks in part to this effort, African American enrollment at UK has also grown in recent years. This school year there are a total of 1,839 African American undergraduates students enrolled.


Students who come to a "Come “see blue.” for Yourself" day first attend a morning information session, which kicks off with a motivational pep talk from Buzz Burnam himself. The session is packed full of helpful information about the application process, scholarship opportunities (including the William C. Parker Diversity Scholarship Program), other student financial aid options and important deadlines.


Visiting students learn about academic and social resources available to them on campus, including CARES (the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services). The morning ends with the Spirit Team, made up of volunteers from the Black Student Union, coming in to teach the UK fight song.


Next, the students go to the Grand Ballroom of the Student Center, where tables are set up with information and representatives from different academic programs, services and organizations on campus. Students are free to walk about at their own pace, pick up materials, and ask questions as they go. At lunchtime, they are entertained with performances by members of historically black Greek-letter organizations and the Black Voices gospel choir.


In the afternoon, the students take a tour of campus, and many take advantage of the opportunity to sit in on classes or meet with professors. Then ("hopefully exhausted from everything we've shown them and done with them," Burnam says), they get back on the bus and head home.


Mahogony Livers, a family science and communication sophomore from Louisville, remembers when she came to "see blue." for herself in 2011, when she was a senior at Seneca High School. She says she was interested in UK, but was also attracted to Kentucky State University, a historically black college.  


"I had my UK flag and K State pom-poms in my car," Livers said. "I had a mini-checklist in my head. I knew if I came to UK I would basically be coming here by myself. So I wanted to make sure there were resources here for me. And I was really involved in high school, so I wanted to make sure there were ways to get involved here."


Livers said she was impressed when she found out about the scholarships available to her, and about resources such as CARES, Student Support Services, and free tutoring in The Study. But it was seeing and interacting with other students that made the biggest impression on her.


"I saw UK had an infinity of opportunities to do whatever you want, based on your interests," she said. "What really got me was when they had the black Greek organizations perform during lunch."

Livers says she also had a good time on the tour.

"I really liked my tour guide," she said. "It was nice to be able to have somebody who could relate to me, honestly, and answer my questions. We kept in touch, and we're actually good friends now."


Livers, who is now recruitment co-chair of the Black Student Union and an Undergraduate Studies student ambassador, takes part in the Come “see blue.” for Yourself days as part of the Spirit Team, and she makes a point of finding out when students are visiting from Seneca so that she can come greet them and personally welcome them to campus.


"My high school was majority black people, and when I first visited here, to be honest, I didn't see many before the event started," she said. "Then I saw people I recognized from my high school, and that was a relief. Once I walked through the Student Center, I started to see just how much diversity there is on campus."




MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hautala, (859) 323-2396;



Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Kentucky Men's Basketball Blue/White Scrimmage
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference
Oct 23
Career Assessment Workshop 10/23/2014
Reset Page