Professional News

Building bridges: UK alum comes full circle in new leadership role

Price’s vision for Martin-Gatton College is to be student-centric, providing access and opportunity for all.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 3, 2024) — For the past decade, helping others reach their success has been a passion for Kendriana Price, Ph.D. While implementing a youth development programming, investing in the community, training peers and building meaningful relationships along the way, Price continues to inspire others to reach their full potential.

After joining the Office of Diversity (OOD) at the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment in 2019, Price was recently tapped to lead the department as the next assistant dean for diversity. 

Price sees her new leadership role as a bridge builder to cultivate opportunities for others to advance OOD’s mission, which is to foster an appreciation of differences where all feel welcome, safe, accepted and included.

I want to be a cultivator for our Martin-Gatton CAFE community,” said Price. “I want to build unique experiences and connect people to something special so they can thrive. I believe in meeting people where they are to create a safe space for them to be seen, valued and heard.”

For Price, finding agriculture, completing her educational journey and eventually inspiring others required faith, support, patience and determination.

Early experiences in agriculture

Price’s early experiences in agriculture were in Pelham, North Carolina, where there are no stoplights, stores or schools.

In the garden at Price’s great-grandmother’s house, there was an apple orchard, and her neighbor’s corn fields across the street. Price remembers shucking corn with her cousins in the summer, which was her first introduction to agriculture.

Known affectionately as Mrs. Teesha, Price’s aunt also played an important role in her life growing up. For Price, Mrs. Teesha was encouraging, and instilled faith, family and strength principles. These morals helped shape Price, but also taught her the importance of family.

“There were some of my fondest memories of seeing firsthand and learning more about agriculture along with the importance of family,” Price said. “To this day, I am thankful for these fruitful experiences.”

Finding UK

After moving around every few years, Price’s military family eventually relocated to Radcliff, Kentucky, in Hardin County, where Price’s father served in the Army at Fort Knox.

Upon moving to Kentucky, Price missed her extended family back home. As a result, Price was considering college in North Carolina.

While in high school, one of her classes participated in a college visit called “Come See for Yourself” at the University of Kentucky’s campus in the spring of 2009.

During this event, UK was offering to waive application fees. Price saw an opportunity and took advantage. She applied, was accepted and received the William C. Parker scholarship, which covered UK’s entire tuition.

“That’s where everything changed for me,” Price said. “The University of Kentucky offered the most scholarship money out of all the schools I was considering.”

Upon deciding to attend UK, Price considered a few majors, which stemmed from earlier passions of helping people. Price eventually pursued the kinesiology and exercise science program in the College of Education.

During her senior year, Price discovered that she failed a class and wasn’t going to graduate on time. But through her participation in UK MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences), an unexpected opportunity arose for her.

UK MANRRS impact

UK MANRRS was the first organization that Price joined as a UK student. Housed in the Martin-Gatton CAFE OOD, membership is open to anyone with a desire to promote diversity and inclusion in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences programs.

Price’s MANRRS advisor, Quentin Tyler, encouraged her to apply for the UK Cooperative Extension internship program, part of Martin-Gatton CAFE, that upcoming summer in Woodford County. Through this internship experience, Price found an affinity in working and developing programs for youth.

Building on this excitement, Price had an opportunity to turn this internship into a full-time position as an extension agent. However, the position required a bachelor’s degree and Price was still missing that one class to graduate.

Through her UK MANRRS connections, Price extended her summer internship into the fall in Christian County, near Fort Campbell. This experience reinforced Price’s deep admiration for the 4-H Club extension arm, especially its role in serving nearby military families. After becoming a 4-H agent for the county, Price was also an advisor for the local Junior MANRRS chapter.

During her extended internship, Price was able to complete that last undergraduate course, graduate and was offered a full-time agent position. Afterwards, she dedicated the next four-and-a-half years to youth development education.

In 2019, Price’s previous colleague and internship supervisor in Christian County, Mia Farrell, became the assistant dean for diversity at Martin-Gatton CAFE. Farrell was also deeply rooted in UK MANRRS and remembered that Price’s impact in diversifying their 4-H program opened a professional door on UK’s campus.

“Growing up I was told to never ‘burn bridges’ because you never know when you will have to cross them again,” said Farrell, now the associate dean and director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Michigan State University. “Dr. Price is living out her passion of giving to others. She’s ensuring that the current and next generation of students, faculty and staff are equipped to create a culture of belonging by building bridges through the important work she is doing at Martin-Gatton CAFE.”

Price joined Farrell’s OOD team as an inclusion and diversity program coordinator.

“All of this would not have happened for me without MANRRS. It’s a full circle moment to continue working in a unit that has impacted me greatly,” Price said.

For Price, UK MANRRS is about providing professional opportunities to its members, and serving the community. Some examples include attending the National MANRRS National Conference and Career Expo, building personal brand at John Deere headquarters, hosting Junior MANRRS events for youth, participating in food access initiatives through The Campus Kitchen on campus, working with community partners like Black Soil, fostering connections in Cooking Up Community, and more.

“Our professional and service component is instilled within the UK MANRRS fabric,” Price emphasized. “It’s important that students coming to UK, and specifically within our college, feel they have a place where they can find community and a sense of belonging in order to impact the world.”


Price’s vision for the OOD team is to be student-centric, providing access and opportunity for all.

“Through our programming, events and services, I want to see our community and students thrive,” Price enthusiastically said. “My vision is elevating how our office offers resources and supports our entire college population. I’m hopeful that everyone feels that they belong, no matter who they are.”

In addition, Price believes that celebrating each other must be a partnership.

“I believe society is trying to catch the highlight reel of everything, and it has to be within a specific moment,” Price said. “People have stories and stories are always evolving, so let’s continue celebrating each other throughout the year and not just during a specific moment. Promoting diversity and helping others is all about building bridges.”

Price also remains active in her community, serving as a board member and incoming chair for UK Women’s Forum along with staff co-lead for the African American, Black and African Diaspora Employee Affinity Group. Through both opportunities, Price embodies her purpose to serve in sharing her talents to impact UK and the community.


Kendriana Price
Kendriana Price giving speech
 Kendriana Price as undergraduate
Kendriana Price with UK MANRRS
Kendriana Price pictured with UK students

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.