UK battles negative perceptions with minority recruitment program

By Rebecca Sweeney

When she was a senior in high school, Asia Payne attended Come See For Yourself and saw herself at UK.

“Come See For Yourself was a big factor in my decision to attend UK because I met people like me doing well on such a big campus where there aren’t so many people like me,” said Payne, a black student and an integrated strategic communications sophomore.

Come See For Yourself takes minority students around UK’s campus. The purpose is for volunteers on the tour to let visitors know UK is interested in having them as students, said Buzz Burnam, UK’s director of recruitment and diversity initiatives.

These visits made prospective students realize that the campus was much different than the negative images of UK told to them by parents, grandparents and fellow students, Burnam said.

“They need to see that they are not excluded but very much included in the ongoing academic and non-academic organizations and activities and events that take on the UK campus,” he said.

The eight events during the fall semester this school year were opportunities for potential students to learn about financial aid and retention programs, interact with current undergraduate students of diverse backgrounds, and talk to faculty, staff and advisers, Burnam said.

“UK is a predominately white institution,” Burnam said. “Come See For Yourself allows students to see a mirror of themselves while visiting campus.”

Come See For Yourself began in 1992 as a program for the Office for Minority Affairs after counselors began talking to enrolled black students about their decision to attend UK, Burnam said.

“The clear reason that they chose to attend to UK was because they took it upon themselves or a family relative to actually visit UK,” he said,

A rap written about the program by a Come See For Yourself student, who is now a UK alumnus, gives Burnam reassurance of the program’s value.

“I never say it out loud, but it continues to motivate me with the fact that the events are making a positive difference in the college decision-making process of diversity students that participate in the events,” he said.

Currently enrolled students and several organizations work very closely with making Come See For Yourself meaningful and relevant to visiting students, Burnam said.

Burnam encourages student groups and individuals interested in being a part of the Come See For Yourself events throughout the year to sign up in his office in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in room  100 of the Funkhouser Building.