UK Student Athletes “see passion.” On and Off the Field

The University of Kentucky student athletes have set a school record for graduation rates issued in the annual report written by the National College Athletic Association.

The NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR), a four-year composite statistic for the freshman classes of 2004-05 through 2007-08, was 81 percent.  That was up two points from last year and continued UK’s trend of having broken or tied the mark for earning diplomas every year since the NCAA began charting graduation.

Student athletes also spend time engaging with the community, as demonstrated by Kentucky men’s basketball team member, Marcus Lee.

The Courier Journal recently chronicled Lee’s passion for service.  Lee befriended a 9-year-old boy named Kelly Melton, who was battling leukemia. He also helped his nurse’s stepson, Noah, recover from homesickness and depression as a result of mononucleosis. Lee, who became sick during the season and could relate to her stepson, wrote him a letter encouraging Noah with the words “faith over fear.”

Noah’s mom, in turn, wrote an email to Coach John Calipari. The subject line read, “Marcus Lee,” and the letter began with, “I am writing this letter to tell you what a remarkable man he is and how he has blessed my life.”

The Southeastern Conference named Lee to the league's Community Service Team, listing the following credentials for the award: filling backpacks with food and supplies for local elementary schools through God's Pantry, coordinating a blanket drive for patients at UK Children's Hospital, and working with Samaritan's Feet to help put shoes on feet that need them around the world.

Read more on Lee in the Courier-Journal.

Recent graduate Grace Trimble, a member of the women’s tennis team during her time at UK, a Rhodes Scholarship finalist in 2015 and a Truman Scholarship award winner in 2014, was awarded the University of Kentucky's 2015 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallions for outstanding humanitarian service.

Trimble is the founder and president of Smart Shots, a 501c3 nonprofit tennis and education program for disadvantaged Lexington children. For Smart Shots, she initiated the design and implementation of a multimillion-dollar athletics and education facility in Lexington.

She was a political science major with a history minor and graduated in May.

She was named to the SEC Community Service Team in 2011-12 and 2013-14 for two of her three years on the varsity women's tennis team. In 2014 she was named to the Frank G. Ham Society of Character by UK Athletics along with the Scratch Award as part of The CATSPY Awards by UK Athletics. 

Trimble was named a Chellgren Fellow in 2012 to engage in a research project as part of the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence, and the same year she traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on a service trip organized by UK Athletics. 

Max Godby, a fifth-year senior on UK's football team as a lineman, also received the Sullivan Award. The creator of the "Bucks for Backpacks" program, which has provided more than 150 homeless men and women with basic necessities, such as clothing, toiletries, food and water, Godby was also was selected to the 2014 Allstate AFCA Good Works team. He was honored at halftime at the 2015 Sugar Bowl in January.

As a member of UK's Christian Student Fellowship, he has become a regular speaker at elementary schools, high schools and churches, and he co-led a relief effort for the city of Joplin, Missouri, after a catastrophic tornado ripped apart the community in 2011. 

In 2014 he was named to the SEC Community Service Team and was honored by UK Athletics at The CATSPY Awards for his community service.