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On Saturday, April the 13th, the Freshman Singletary Scholars hosted the Inaugural Lewis Honors College Leadership Conference attended by nearly 100 student leaders across University of Kentucky campus. The Class of ’27 Singletary Scholars helped fundraise, plan, and present this conference with support from members of the Lewis Honors College, in an effort to help them develop their leadership skills while also showcasing those skills to the attendees of the conference. 

To open the conference, Gavin Breunig the Co-Lead welcomed Dean Christian Brady of the Lewis Honors College to provide words of wisdom to start the day. Some highlights included two keynote speeches from Special Assistant to the President of Strategic Partnerships at KCTCS Derrick Ramsey and Kentucky Secretary of Transportation Jim Gray, as well as a Lexington Community Leader panel and a UK Leader panel. 

Mr. Ramsey’s speech centered around his time playing sports in high school and his struggles with how people perceived him. He touched on his mentor, Sargent, and how his encouragement led Mr. Ramsey to open up to leadership positions and to live up to his full potential trying any opportunity which was afforded to him. 

Mr. Gray talked about how his upbringing afforded him the opportunity for growth at a young age due to the death of his father. This unfortunate event is what inserted him into the family business “Gray Construction” which is now an extremely successful architecture company. He also touched on his passion for public policy and how he balanced his personal life with his professional life within the political scene of Kentucky. As the day moved on, both panels were moderated by the Honors College’s very own Visiting Lewis Lecturer Sherelle Roberts, who is an Emmy-winning journalist, and she curated a list of questions so that students were given the opportunity to learn about each leader’s role within their specific organization and the development which led them to those positions. These Panels included:

Community Panel:

  • Laura Carr, Executive Director, Lexington Rescue Mission
  • Christian Motley - Vice President, Partnerships and Community Impact, Results for America
  • Vontella Thomas - Director of Student Y, KY YMCA Youth Association
  • Dr. Amanda Whitaker - Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, Shriners Children’s Hospital-Northern California, Assistant Professor-UC Davis, UK Honors Alum, Lewis Honors College External Advisory Board Member
  • Latarika Young - Director, Americas Product Delivery, Lexmark International

UK Panel:

  • Dr. Trisha Clement-Montgomery - UK Dean of Students
  • Melody Flowers - Assistant Vice President, UK Economic Development and Real Estate, Singletary Scholar Alum
  • Lisa Higgins-Hord - Assistant Vice President, UK Community Engagement
  • Dr. Mike Johnson - Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Success, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Former Dept. Chair, UK Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering
  • Dr. Kenneth Jones - Director of Program and Staff Development for the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Extension Professor, Community and Leadership Development, Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
  • Thalethia B. Routt, JD, Acting Associate Vice President, UK Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity

There were also 5 workshops which were focused on different facets of leadership which were led by different members of UK including:

  • Difficult Conversations: Giving and Receiving Feedback as a Leader: Sally Foster, Assistant Dean for Student Engagement, UK Lewis Honors College
  • Impromptu Speaking: Carla Curtsinger, Point Taken Consulting 
  • Maximizing Leadership Experience in Resume and Interviewing: Ramla Osman, Associate Director, UK Lewis Honors College Center for Personal Development
  • Quiet Leadership: Todd Stoltzfus, Chief Administrative Officer and Assistant Dean of Finance, UK College of Nursing
  • Unconscious Bias: Dr. Christia Brown, Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence, UK College of Arts and Sciences

The final session of the day included a strengths self-assessment, followed by peer discourse which was led by pairs of Singletary Scholars who were tasked with facilitating beneficial discussions over the results of the assessment. As the conference came to a close, the scholars were able to wrap up the day with closing remarks from Co-Lead Christian Kantosky and allow for the attendees to enjoy the rest of the beautiful weather on the day. Without the support of the sponsors, PNC Bank, the Lewis Honors College, and Ale-8, it would not have been possible to have the success that we did.

Each year, up to 25 Singletary Scholars receive a prestigious merit scholarship for their future potential to lead lives of intellect, integrity, and service in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the world. Each Singletary Scholar is admitted to the Lewis Honors College, which aims to cultivate their individual leadership capacity via self-awareness assessments, dynamic classroom discussions, conversations with community leaders, and experiential learning, among many other opportunities. Singletary Scholars receive full tuition for four years, a two-year housing stipend, and the benefits of the Lewis Honors College, including a three-course mentored experience. They join a network of engaged leaders across the region and nation and serve as an example of the caliber of students at a world-class Honors College.