Dinner honors some of UK’s most influential women

Rafael Silva

[email protected]

When most monuments and buildings at UK depict men, it often feels as if the most influential women on campus go by unnoticed. That is why senior Ruth Gonzalez helped create a women’s history month dinner last year to honor the women who students at UK find the most influential.

Last Tuesday, the event flourished as students and faculty alike came together at the Martin Luther King Center to “break bread, enjoy each other’s company and celebrate (the prominent women nominated for the student elected awards),” said Kahlil Baker, the director of the Office of Institutional Diversity at UK, as he opened the ceremony.

Voting was done by more than a thousand students on the MLK Center’s Listserv email list, students who subscribed to the MLK Center’s newsletter and the students who voted in person in Blazer Hall. Of the 12 women nominated, four winners were then chosen randomly. This year’s winners were:

Lori Garkovich, professor of community and leadership development.

Shonta Phelps, director of Leadership Initiatives and Living Learning Programs.

Kaylina Madison, at Fellowship Payment/Bi-Weekly in Student Recruitment.

Randa Remer, assistant dean of Student Affairs and adjunct assistant professor

Remer and Phelps were both in attendance at the dinner, as well as Carol Taylor-Shim, social justice educator, who won the award last year.

Despite the prestige of the occasion where students honored faculty, the event was casual with students and faculty joined to celebrate the women in their lives both in and out of UK, nominated or not.

“Randa worked for Lori Gonzalez, who can be considered one of the best deans the university has ever had. She really taught everyone, including Randa, how to treat people. She’s never been the type to just boss people around, she’s just not that type of person,” said Orvis J. Kean, an administrative support associate of the Office for Institutional Diversity at UK.

At each table in the celebratory dinner was a small sheet of discussion questions, with questions such as, “What woman has influenced you the most throughout your life?” and, “How do you mentor/encourage your students/peers and others around you?” as well as introductory questions to keep up the atmosphere of fun in the room handed out by David J. Luke, the assistant director for the Office for Institutional Diversity.

Not only were the women being celebrated of diverse backgrounds, but so were the students present at the event, which included many students from the Latino Student Union. These students were all excited to see women being celebrated at UK.

“Getting recognized means they’ll stay at UK and continue to inspire others,” said Elisa Diaz, a freshman in the Latino Student Union.

“You don’t see a lot of women on the UK news, but they do a lot underground. It’s inspirational,” said Anna Villarreal, sophomore.