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As Kentucky lawmakers go after college DEI, Black UK students share their own experiences

Monica Kast, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Lifestyles

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For many Black students choosing where they want to go to college, a diverse and welcoming environment is top priority.

Attending a state university, like the University of Kentucky, can bring opportunities like scholarships and organizations for minority students. But choosing a predominantly white university also brings challenges or instances of racism on campus.

Still, Black students interviewed by the Herald-Leader said they had found UK to be an overall positive experience.

“If you want to see change, you’ve got to make it, and by going here, you’re starting that chain reaction,” said Brandy Jackson, a senior.

Isaiah Henderson, a senior from Chicago, said he felt part of the UK community from his first week in Lexington.

“As soon as you walk on campus, people are welcoming you,” Henderson said.

 

He chose to leave Chicago and come to UK in search of new experiences. He picked UK because of the campus environment and on-campus opportunities for freshmen, he said. He felt a “sense of home” at UK.

UK has 33,885 students enrolled as of the fall 2023 semester. It’s the largest-ever enrollment for UK, and the most diverse: nearly 17% of students enrolled are from underrepresented populations, the university said last fall.

“At UK, we work every day to model a community where everyone belongs and everyone feels accepted for who they are and what they, uniquely, contribute to this place,” President Eli Capilouto said last fall.

Black students make up 6.9% of the UK population, the largest minority population at UK, according to university data. The number of Black students increased from 1,997 in the fall 2014 semester to 2,345 in fall 2024.

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