Student News

UK Nu Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa honors leaders across campus

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 20, 2023) — The University of Kentucky Nu Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society hosted its annual awards night on Tuesday, April 11 in the W. T. Young Athletic Auditorium. The annual event was established in 2022 to honor several groups of leaders across campus, including the recently named recipients of the Great Teacher Award in conjunction with the Alumni Association, the Maurice A. Clay Award for outstanding graduating students, the Jerry Claiborne scholarship recipients and to install the new student leadership. Students, faculty, staff and the community gathered to honor those recognized.

The Maurice A. Clay award was created over 30 years ago to recognize the outstanding graduating senior in each academic college. Winners are selected by the college and are expected to be exceptional leaders who have provided service to their college while maintaining a strong academic record. Omicron Delta Kappa recognizes superior scholarship, leadership and exemplary character. The Maurice A. Clay Awards are one way in which the UK Nu Circle of the National Leadership Society can bestow on graduating seniors a “Mark of High Distinction.”

Maurice A. Clay was an educator and professor at UK for more than 60 years. He was the epitome of service leadership while assuming little recognition for himself. We hope that each recipient will exemplify these characteristics in future endeavors.

The 2023 recipients are:

  • Merideth Grace Carson, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
  • Kameron Kraus, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Caitlin Mueller, Gatton College of Business and Economics
  • Rayleigh Deaton, College of Communication and Information
  • Katherine White, College of Design - School of Architecture
  • Sophie Gershtenson, College of Design - School of Interiors
  • Andrew Schmitt, College of Education
  • Julia Stekardis, College of Engineering
  • Joy Chou, College of Fine Arts
  • Moncerrat Bravo, College of Health Sciences
  • Sydney G Cooper, College of Nursing
  • Kangai Miriti, College of Public Health
  • Grace Berger, College of Social Work
  • Hunter J McCormick, Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

The Jerry D. Claiborne Scholarship is awarded to students who exemplify, through thoughts and actions, the character of Jerry D. Claiborne, former UK men’s football coach and UK alum. Claiborne was most known for exhibiting compassion, leadership, and humility; his love for mentoring students, and the highest integrity of character. To be eligible for this award, one must be a member of UK’s ODK Circle, be currently enrolled in a degree program and apply for the award. The recipients were chosen from their peers and received a $600 stipend.

The 2023 recipients are:

  • Julia Kollitz, College of Public Health
  • Naphason Phothong, College of Engineering
  • Nora Sypkens, College of Arts and Sciences

Also recognized were the Alumni Association’s Great Teachers who were chosen in conjunction and support of O∆K. You can read more about these recipients in the recent UKNow article here:

The 2023-2024 ODK student officers were installed and recognized: Hallie Rice, president; Nora Sypkens, vice president; Molly Tierney, social media/communications chair; and Sami Jones, activities chair. Faculty and staff advisors are Francisco Andrade, College of Medicine, and C. Lynn Hiler, Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence.

Tune into the ODK and Chellgren Center social media outlets to help celebrate these outstanding leaders even more by liking and sharing our posts.

Omicron Delta Kappa is supported on campus by the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence within the Office of the Provost. For more information, contact them at

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.