Ashley Judd gives on-campus speech “from the heart”


UK alumna Ashley Judd spoke to students, faculty and staff for the 14th annual Irma Sarett Rosenstein lecture at the Singletary Center on Friday, December 1, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Jacob Eads

Ashley Judd has won countless awards for her acting abilities, but it was her humanitarian efforts that brought her back to the stage Friday on her old UK stomping grounds.

Judd returned to deliver the 14th installment of the annual Irma Sarett Rosenstein Lecture Series hosted by the College of Social Work.

To begin her speech in the Singletary Center, Judd admitted she hadn’t written a speech in preparation for the day’s events, citing her preference to speak freely.

“What comes from the head goes over the head, and what comes from the heart goes straight to the heart,” Judd said. “What was modeled for me in academia at the University of Kentucky as an undergrad was that scholarship can travel the most important distance any of us will ever travel, which is the 18 inches or so between our heads and our hearts.”

Titled “From Kentucky to Kenya and Everywhere in Between” Judd’s talk detailed personal stories infused with her experiences advocating for the social rights of marginalized groups and abuse survivors across the world.

A UK alumna, Judd credited her academic career at UK for molding her into the social activist she is today. She recounted numerous tales about her antics at UK, reliving experiences like her hanging protest banners from her window at the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house.

Before her departure from UK to begin her acting career, Judd said she was asked if she was going to act, or going to save the world?

“Hopefully today I got to be involved in both,” Judd said. “I get to do my part to make the world a better place and I get to act.”

Judd currently serves as the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund. She is also the chairperson of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project: Curbing Abuse, Expanding Freedom.

Audience members in attendance ranged from Lexington community members, students in the College of Social Work, UK alumni, and even some of Judd’s past professors.

“She was a great spokesperson for the sort of feminist resurgence that is happening in these sort of unsettled times,” 2006 UK graduate Lisa Grober said.

Many came to hear what Judd had to say about current issues.

“With all of the issues going on in the country right now, I was interested in what Ashley had to say and was not disappointed in her delivery,” said audience member Megan Milby.

The lecture was organized to celebrate the legacy of Irma S. Rosenstein, a former professor within the College of Social Work and an impassioned proponent of child welfare who tackled the social justice issues of her day.