Campus News

After Finding Passion in Research at UK, She Hopes to Inspire Others

Kenyatta Mitchell talks about her passion for research and her goal to help others.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 30, 2019) — This week Kenyatta Mitchell, an Indiana native, will walk across the University of Kentucky Commencement stage to receive her degree in communication from the College of Communication and Information.

“These last four years flew by so fast. I remember coming here in 2015 and being sad that my mom was leaving after she helped me move in. Now I think about the level of growth I’ve experienced and how much I’ve flourished mentally and spiritually,” Mitchell said. “I’ve had so many different experiences here that I have learned from and allowed them to teach me something.”

Inspired by her peers, Mitchell completed her undergraduate research focusing on civil rights coalitions in Mississippi. She traveled 850 miles to Mississippi where she found answers beyond her initial research question.

“The research really changed my life," Mitchell said. "Even though I wasn’t part of the civil rights movement when it was happening, I felt as if a part of me was there in the '60s after reading the letters and other archives left behind by the coalitions.”

Mitchell reviewed manuscripts and the historical archives at the McCain Special Collections Library at the University of Southern Mississippi to learn about coalitions and how they combated racism in order to bring about equal rights and social change.

“It’s so hard to pinpoint one thing I discovered because I had such little knowledge going into this research and I learned so much. The people changed discrimination toward African Americans, and I was able to learn about their collective efforts and how they excelled despite the obstacle of racial oppression,” Mitchell said. “My research was so unique, and a lot of people haven’t experienced the same journey I was able to go on. I’m overly grateful I was able to participate in undergrad research and travel to a state full of history.”

Mitchell was so inspired by her research, she started a GoFundMe campaign to help support other students who want to research African-American history.

“I want to leave a legacy. My mom made of a lot of sacrifices for me, and one of my main accomplishments in life is to make sure she knows that it paid off," she said.

Mitchell says she's grateful to her mother and to UK for providing her with the tools for success.

“I’m most proud of never giving up. I’m the CEO of my own life," Mitchell said. "At UK I’ve met so many people who have my best interest and have directed me down the right path. I feel like UK is the start of my dreams. Dreams don’t just happen randomly. They’re sparked by the people around you. My self-esteem and my confidence are a result of being a student at UK.”

After graduation Mitchell is pursuing a graduate degree in sport administration at UK and is looking forward to the knowledge she will gain.

“Even though I am not an athlete, per se, I would still like to know more about the sport industry and assist professional athletes in their journey of communication,” Mitchell said. 

During her time at UK, Mitchell was also a tutor to athletes and held a position as a resident advisor.

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Kenyatta Mitchell
Kenyatta Mitchell
Kenyatta Mitchell

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. The Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for," and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for three straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.