Professional News

Great Teachers 2023: Candice Hargons learns from the next generation of students

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 30, 2023) — In February, the University of Kentucky Alumni Association honored the six recipients of this year’s Great Teacher Awards. Launched in 1961, they are the longest-running UK awards that recognizes teaching. Over the next six weeks, UKNow is highlighting the passionate and accomplished educators who were named a 2023 Great Teacher.

Candice N. Hargons, Ph.D., associate professor and interim department chair of the Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology in the University of Kentucky College of Education, is one of this year’s Great Teacher Award recipients.

“I always enjoyed teaching,” Hargons said. “I know that teaching is the highest form of knowledge acquisition, so when I teach, I learn. But it was always a joy to be able to share knowledge with someone else.”

Hargons studies sexual wellness and liberation — all with a love ethic. She leads the Big Sex Study, a mixed method, community-based participatory action research project investigating Black sexual wellness. She is a core faculty member of the Center for Health Equity and Transformation, as well as a faculty affiliate of African American and Africana Studies and the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies, based in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“One of the things I've been really intentional about since I got here in 2015 was to recruit and retain a diverse class of students,” Hargons said. “Racially diverse, diverse in sexual identity, diverse in socioeconomic status, people who are diverse in body size and age ­— all of these things were important because that means that all of us get to learn lessons with each other. They teach me about what this generation needs. They helped me think about what psychology can look like in 10 years and 20 years.”

Additionally, Hargons is the principal investigator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funded Neighborhood Healers Project, which seeks to advance mental health literacy and utilization among Black Lexingtonians. She is also a co-investigator on projects funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), examining substance use outcomes, treatment and sexual health disparities. Hargons also serves on the American Psychological Association Board of Directors and is a Fellow in APA Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology) and an APA Minority Fellow alumna. She has degrees from Spelman College, Georgia State University and she earned her Ph.D. at the University of Georgia.

In order to receive a Great Teacher award, educators must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selection. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and stipend.

Hear the stories from all the 2023 Great Teacher Award winners here.

image of Dr. Hargons sitting at the head of a table listening to a student
Candice Hargons, associate professor and interim department chair of the Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology in the College of Education, is one of this year’s Great Teacher Award recipients.

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