Extending the Promise of a UK Education

It was fall of 1994. In many ways, Sharon Mofield-Boswell was your typical college freshman joining the Wildcat family. She demonstrated the fierce determination and enduring compassion that is distinctively Kentucky.

But college came with its own set of challenges. On top of that, Sharon ​had a unique set of responsibilities — as a single mom. She left school with only one semester to go.

Sharon doesn’t regret her decision to put family first. Last May, however, in consultation with her family, she asked herself a profound and compelling question: What is possible?

What doors would completing her degree from the University of Kentucky open?

In January 2019, she set out to answer that question, returning to UK determined to finish what she started two decades ago. And last month, she crossed the stage as a Class of 2019 graduate, earning a Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) degree.

She did so as a participant in Project Graduate, a statewide initiative to assist adult learners who have accumulated 80 or more credit hours.

As the University FOR Kentucky, we are asking ourselves how we extend the promise of a UK education to more students like Sharon—students throughout the Commonwealth who are but a few courses short of the credentials that would change the trajectory of their lives.

And we are doing more than ever before to assist students like Sharon as they pursue this dream.

This May, 100 undergraduate students with Project Graduate received their diplomas. UK provides one-on-one advising and special registration times, as well as an institutional loan specifically for select Project Graduate students, in hopes of alleviating financial strain.

In addition, UK was recently awarded a $25,000 Project Graduate Grant from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). The strategic funds will be used to boost degree completion of former students with 80 or more credit hours.

At UK, we believe it is possible for more Kentuckians to access the transformational education that we provide. Like UK, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has bold goals; one of them is to reach 60 percent college degree attainment by 2030. Our expanded online coursework and focus on Project Graduate will help move us toward this aspiration, which is so crucial for the future of our state.

We have already identified more than 1,000 former students with more than 120 credits from the UK College of Arts and Sciences who left the institution without completing a degree. These individuals, in some cases, may be just a few classes away from fulfilling those requirements.

Our vision for UK Online is one that leverages the creative, collaborative potential of technology to connect our outstanding faculty to students throughout Kentucky and beyond.

It is another way we fulfill our promise as the University FOR Kentucky.

Photo of Sharon Mofield Boswell