Campus News

VIDEO: Beloved UK Staffer Acts as Surrogate 'Mom' to Students Far From Home

"Kentucky's Heartbeat: Tammy Terry"

Video produced by UK Public Relations and Marketing. To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. If using a mobile device, click on the "thought bubble" in the same area.


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 9, 2016) — The countdown for Finals Week is on across campus. For some students, the closer it gets, the more stress starts to settle into their lives.

Tammy Terry, a UK Dining employee and lobby attendant of the Starbucks at William T. Young Library, can see it on their faces as they unpack their laptops and notebooks. 

“When I hear a student say they have a test, I say, 'just do your best, that’s all I ask,'” Terry said. 

A key component of UK’s Strategic Plan centers on undergraduate student success. While Terry doesn’t work as a professor or advisor, she does see herself as an encourager in the effort to help increase retention and graduation rates. 

“They need somebody because they don’t have mom and dad around, and for some of them, it’s their first year,” Terry said. “I just tell them to push on toward their mark and just do their best.” 

As she travels around from table to table, students take notice of the interest she shows in their academic success. 

"College can be so stressful," said Gabby Male, a junior from Columbus, Ohio. “You could be having a terrible day and her just coming up saying ‘hi’ can really push you to just have a better day and that can help us academically more than people know.”

In fact, “Mrs. Tammy,” as many students call her, is such a beloved figure that a group of Wildcats came together last December to donate more than $6,000 as a gift for her generosity and kind spirit. 

You can watch video of the surprise here.

One year later, UKNow had the opportunity to chat with Terry about why she goes above and beyond the call of duty to take such an interest in the lives of UK students.

Watch the video above to discover why she loves being a “second mom” to hundreds of students. 

This video feature is part of our new UKNow series, “Kentucky’s Heartbeat — the pulse of our institution.” The goal is to highlight the people who are working every day to help each and every student succeed inside and outside of the classroom. 

If you know of someone who you think should be featured because of his or her dedication to the student experience, please email us. Who knows? We might just choose your suggestion for our next feature on UKNow!

Kentucky's Heartbeat: Tammy Terry
Kentucky's Heartbeat: Tammy Terry