Campus News

Watch Live as UK Celebrates the Class of 2018

Watch the UK Commencement ceremonies live here

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 4, 2018) — The University of Kentucky will honor its newest alumni today and Sunday at what will be the largest commencement in UK’s history.

The May 2018 Commencement Ceremonies will be held across four ceremonies Friday, May 4, and Sunday, May 6, in Rupp Arena. The university made the decision to move from three to four ceremonies last year to accommodate the dramatic increases in the number of graduates and families and friends attending Commencement. Doctoral, master's and baccalaureate degree recipients are now recognized together based on their colleges.

More than 3,500 students are expected to participate in the ceremonies. Overall, 3,735 undergraduate and 1,568 graduate and professional degree candidates had their degrees approved by the UK Board of Trustees at its May 1 meeting.

Ceremonies include:

Friday, May 4:

Sunday, May 6:

All four ceremonies will be livestreamed on UKNow.

Graduate Stories

While all graduates are celebrated for their tremendous achievements, many have particularly interesting stories to share about their lives and time at UK.

  • Jenna Lyon: "Miss Jenna" started her free dance classes for kids with special needs in high school, but she never imagined she would be directing her own nonprofit by college graduation. Lyon's one goal is to offer kids with disabilities the same opportunities other children receive.   
  • Esias Bedingar: Following in his father’s footsteps, Bedingar came to UK in 2014 from Dono Manga in Chad, not knowing any English at all. Since then, he has founded a nonprofit to help eradicate malaria in his home country, conducts research in neuroscience, and will graduate with a degree in public health before attending Harvard University to pursue a master’s degree.  
  • Paige Raque: In 2012, a traumatic accident left Raque in a coma for weeks with no sure answer as to whether she would ever speak again. This week, she will earn her master's degree in speech-language pathology to help others traveling the same road to recovery that she once faced.   
  • Shannon Beebe: Beebe joined the Army where she spent six years as a medic. She used her medical training to earn her nursing degree though the College of Nursing's MedVet program while working full time and raising five children.

Read more stories about UK's May 2018 graduates.

Honorary Degrees

Four citizens who have distinguished themselves in their careers and community work will receive honorary doctorates at the Commencement ceremonies.

Tom Hammond will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the 10 a.m. Friday, May 4 ceremony. The Lexington native and UK alumnus is recognized as one of the leading network sports broadcasters in the United States. His career has included covering thoroughbred horse racing and play-by-play of the NBA, WNBA, college basketball and football, gymnastics and ice skating. He was the play-by-play announcer for University of Notre Dame Football for 21 years, and he has been a fixture on NBC's coverage of the Olympic Summer and Winter Games. Hammond has won an Eclipse Award and numerous Emmy awards for his sports coverage.

Among many honors Hammond has received are the Outstanding Kentuckian Award given by the A.B. Chandler Foundation (now the Kentucky Future Leaders Foundation) and the Tom Hammond Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting, which is named for him and given by the Bluegrass Sports Commission. He is also a member of the Lafayette High School Hall of Fame, Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and UK Hall of Distinguished Alumni. He serves on a number of boards including currently co-chairing the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment's campaign committee.

Debra Hensley will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the 10 a.m. Sunday, May 6 ceremony. Hensley, who owns and operates a State Farm Insurance agency in Lexington, has also served three terms on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council and continues to work tirelessly as a community builder. Her volunteer and advocacy work includes serving on the boards of the Salvation Army, YMCA and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She and the Golden K Kiwanis Club were instrumental in bringing Habitat for Humanity to Lexington, and as chair of the Task Force on Homelessness, she was a leading force behind creation of the Hope Center to assist people who are homeless and at risk.

Hensley co-founded Downtown Lexington Corporation, which promotes downtown business, residential life and entertainment. She is past chair of the Kentucky Conference of Community and Justice and as co-founder of JustFundKY, Hensley helped create an endowment to help eradicate discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community members. She is also founder and president of Lexington Community Radio, a nonprofit group that launched two low-power FM stations broadcasting in English and Spanish.

Sara Holroyd will receive an Honorary Doctor of Arts at the 2 p.m. Friday, May 4 ceremony.

As a professor in the UK School of Music from 1962 to 1987, Holroyd was a trailblazer for women. She became one of only two female collegiate choral conductors in the United States. During her tenure at UK, she held the positions of professor of music education and director of choral activities where she led The Madrigal Singers, Women's Glee Club, Chorus, Choristers and Chorale. Among her many awards, Holroyd was named a UK Alumni Association Great Teacher; she won the Carl A. Lampert Award inducting her into the UK School of Music Hall of Fame; and most recently, she received the Lexington Music Award's Lifetime Achievement Award.

At the age of 62, Holroyd retired from UK and started working toward another career. She immediately entered nursing school and at age 64, became an emergency room nurse at a Lexington hospital until she retired from that career at age 71. The Sara Holroyd Oral History Project, started by some of her former students, now resides in the UK Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, part of UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center.

Geoffrey Manley will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science at the 10 a.m. Friday, May 4 ceremony.

After dropping out of high school, Manley's life took an unlikely turn that eventually led him to become an internationally recognized expert in neurotrauma and leader in the growing field of advanced neuromonitoring and clinical informatics. While working as a mechanic, one of his customers, UK Professor Emeritus Sheldon Steiner, recognized Manley's talents and set him on an academic path that led to Manley earning his bachelor's degree from UK and medical and doctoral degrees from Cornell University. He currently is vice chairman of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco; co-director of the school's Brain and Spinal Injury Center; and chief of neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital.

Manley has received many awards for his research, published more than 120 manuscripts, mentored numerous physicians and scientists at UCSF, and was instrumental in writing the guidelines that all neurosurgeons use for managing patients with traumatic brain injury.  

Student Speakers

In addition to UK President Eli Capilouto, a student representative will address the audience at each of the ceremonies, as per UK tradition.

  • Esias Bedingar, from N’Djamena, Chad, is graduating with a bachelor's degree in public health from the UK College of Public Health with a minor in neuroscience. He will deliver the Commencement address at the 10 a.m. ceremony on May 4.
  • Andrea Bomkamp, from Crescent Springs, Kentucky, is graduating with bachelor's degrees in marketing and economics from the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics with a minor in international business. She will give the Commencement address at the 2 p.m. ceremony on May 4. 
  • Elizabeth Dempsey, from Cedar City, Utah, is graduating with a bachelor's degree political science from the UK College of Arts and Sciences with minors in communication and military leadership. She will give the Commencement address at the 10 a.m. ceremony on May 6. 
  • Elizabeth Foster, from Owensboro, Kentucky, is graduating with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the UK College of Engineering with a certificate in power and energy studies and a minor in mathematics. She will give the Commencement address at the 2 p.m. ceremony on May 6. 

Read more about the student speakers here.


All four ceremonies will be streamed live at, the university’s news website. Full video of each ceremony will be available within two weeks after Commencement on the university’s YouTube channel,

Social media users are encouraged to use the hashtag #UKgrad.

For more information about UK Commencement, visit

UK Photo l Mark Cornelison