Campus News

UK celebrates its Leap Year babies

Emma Perry, a junior accounting major in the Gatton College of Business and Economics, celebrates her "5th" birthday today, Feb. 29.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 29, 2024) — Today, a group of 14 current University of Kentucky students will take time to celebrate a big milestone in their life — their fifth or sixth birthdays.

Happening only every four years, those born on Feb. 29 have the rarest birthday one can have. According to the History Channel, only five million people worldwide were born on this day.

Here are a few interesting facts about UK's 2024 students with Leap Year birthdays :

  • more than 64% are pursuing STEM+H (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health) degrees (compared to around 40% for the total student population) 
  • 71% percent identify as male, 29% as female.
  • the College of Arts and Sciences has three Leap Year babies — the most out of the group.
  • Gatton College of Business and Economics; College of Communication and Information; and Pigman College of Engineering are all tied for second place, with two in each college.  
  • the College of Fine Arts; College of Medicine; College of Pharmacy; College of Social Work and Lewis Honors College are all home to one Leap Year baby.
  • there is at least one Leap Year baby in all of the undergraduate classes — freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.
  • three Leap Year babies are pursuing graduate or professional degrees.
  • less than 1% of the student body are Leap Year babies.

UKNow caught up with one of these Wildcats to find out more about what it is like to have a Leap Year birthday.

Trey Potts is a student in the UK College of Pharmacy from Oblong, Illinois. For him, his birthday is always his “fun fact” he shares about himself.

“The way people react when they hear that I was born on Feb. 29 has never gotten old,” he said.

But he says having a Leap Year Birthday isn’t all that different. He still celebrates his birthday every year, Leap Years are just “extra fun.”

“In 2020, for my 5th birthday, my party was Paw Patrol-themed, and this year I've already gotten a pop-up Spiderman card congratulating me on turning 6,” he said.

Potts plans to celebrate with his friends this weekend, while enjoying cupcakes his family in Illinois sent him.

“Happy birthday to the other 13 Leap Year Wildcats!” Potts said. “I hope this year is extra special for them as well.”

In addition to the 14 students, eight UK employees were also born on Feb. 29, including Nancy Schoenberg, Ph.D., Marion Pearsall Professor of Behavioral Science in the UK College of Medicine, founding director of the Center for Health and Equity Transformation and associate vice president for research professional development.

And out of UK’s 280,292 known living alumni around the world, only 157 were born on Feb. 29. Read more about the oldest one, Charles Whaley, here.

Happy birthday to all of the Leap Year Wildcats!

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.