UK Media Advisory - May 2018 Commencement Graduate Stories

Commencement ceremonies will be held Friday, May 4, and Sunday, May 6. For more information, visit

A Chance to Dance: Student Creates Nonprofit for Kids with Disabilities

"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. Jenna Lyon's one goal is to offer kids with disabilities the same opportunities other children receive. 

CONTACT: Whitney Harder,, 859-323-2396

Chadian Graduate Goes from Speaking No English to Attending Harvard

Following in his father’s footsteps, Esias 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.

CONTACT: Jenny Wells,, 859-257-5343

UK Grad Student Discovers Her Passion After Harrowing Accident

In 2012, a traumatic accident left Paige 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. 

CONTACT: Loretta Stafford,, 859-323-7643

College of Nursing Grad Uses Army Medic Training to Earn Nursing Degree

Shannon 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.

CONTACT: Hilary Brown,, 859-323-2394

Former Marine Will Aid Human Missions to Mars After Graduation

Austin Langston started his journey at UK after returning home from serving as a Marine in Afghanistan. After graduation, he will report to the NASA Kennedy Space Center, where he has been offered a full-time position. His mission, as part of the Swamp Works team, will be to utilize the resources on Mars, and on the Moon, to aid in human missions on the planet. Langston will be graduating with a degree in computer engineering, which he earned in just a little over three years.

CONTACT: Lindsey Piercy,, 859-323-5613

UK Graduating Senior Alyssa Rice Exemplifies Being a Scholar and an Athlete

Alyssa Rice, a starter on the UK women's basketball team, recently received the Gatton College Dean’s Award for Excellence as the college’s most outstanding student this year. Alyssa is an accounting major with a 3.9 GPA; has been on the Dean’s List all four years; served on the SEC Basketball Student-Athlete Leadership Council and the NCAA women’s basketball competition committee; mentors kids through the Amachi organization; and was named SEC Women’s Basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year.

CONTACT: Carl Nathe,, 859-257-3200 or Evan Crane,, 270-559-8120