Toni Thomas began her career at the University of Kentucky with the Cooperative Extension Service. She worked as a County Extension Agent for 4-H in Louisville, Kentucky. Toni transferred to the main campus in Lexington to join the Office for Minority Affairs staff as a counselor at the Learning Services Center. After working as a counselor for two years and serving as Acting Director for one year, she became the Director of the Learning Services Center. Upon receiving a grant that she assisted in writing, she served in a special assignment capacity to set up the Student Support Services Program which became a part of the retention programs in the Office for Minority Affairs. She then became the Director of Retention Programs in the newly renamed/refocused Office for Multicultural and Academic Affairs. Currently, Toni is the Director of the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES) under the auspices of the Office for Institutional Diversity.
Toni earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Child and Family Guidance from Eastern Kentucky University and a Masters degree in Family Studies from the University of Kentucky.
Administrative Support Associate
Kimberly Toomey currently serves as the office manager in the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES). She has been working in the CARES department since 2006 and employed with the University of Kentucky 9 years prior to working with CARES. Kimberly is a graduate of Sullivan University with an AA in Computer Science.
Senior Program Advisor/Freshman Counselor
Marilyn Underwood recently joined the office of CARES as the Associate Director/Freshman Counselor. She spent 18 years in the Gatton College of Business; the first 12 years as the Program Coordinator/Advisor for the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and the last 6 as the Senior Advisor/Degree Certification Officer for the Undergraduate program. Next, she worked as an Academic Advisor in the College of Health Sciences for two years and just recently spent 10 years with the College of Public Health; first as the Director of Student and International Affairs and later as the Director of Academic Advising for the Bachelor of Public Health (BPH) undergraduate program.
Marilyn earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from the University of North Alabama (Florence, Alabama) and a Master of Arts Degree in Student Personnel Services in Higher Education – Human Services from Eastern Kentucky University.
Freshman Counselor A-K
Kim Beatty, currently serves as the Freshman Counselor (A-K) at the University of Kentucky in the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES). In this position, she works with first year students to help ease the transition from high school to college.
She is a graduate of Kentucky State University and holds a Master of Education degree in Counseling and Human Development from Lindsey Wilson College. Kim enjoys working with students, while helping them be successful in all areas of life.
She has worked with students and families in various capacities, including public schools, social services, and non- profit organizations in different communities and diverse populations. She encourages them to know and understand that success looks different for everyone and to take pride in yourself and accomplishments.
Kayla Gill currently serves as the interim Sophomore Counselor at the University Of Kentucky in the Office for Institutional Diversity’s Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services. As a counselor, she focuses on major and career exploration and helping students achieve academic success. Also as a past CARES student Kayla strives to make a strong connection with students through her shared experiences.
Kayla is a graduate of the University Of Kentucky where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work. Kayla went on to earn a Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Houston. Through her graduate research Kayla found her interest in working to improve retention rates in higher education and closing the achievement gap. Kayla is passionate about being helping her students excel in the classroom as well as being a great support.
Alexis Meza de los Santos currently serves as the Junior Counselor at the University of Kentucky in the Office of Institutional Diversity’s Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES). In this position, she works with junior students to help enhance personal and leadership skills, while strengthening and building a professional network that will prepare them for graduation and beyond. Alexis is passionate about advocating for students, as well as providing support and advice for non-academic issues students may face. She enjoys connecting students to resources on and off campus, and being a person on campus they can come to for any issues. Her motivation is to be the person she needed when she was a college student and help her students achieve their goals.
Alexis is a graduate of Kentucky State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications and Journalism. Prior to working at CARES, Alexis is also a community activist and oral historian, and plans to pursue a master’s in Hispanic studies from the University of Kentucky.
Kim Jones-Goldring currently serves as the Senior Counselor at the University of Kentucky in the Office for Institutional Diversity’s Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES). In this position, she works with senior students to help ease the transition of life after college. Kim coordinates the Harambee celebration program and is very passionate about working with students in Higher Education and preparing students for life after college.
Kim is a graduate of Kentucky State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration and a Master of Public Administration Degree specializing in Human Resource Management. Kim also earned a Master of Arts Degree in Student Personnel Services in Higher Education from Eastern Kentucky University. Prior to joining the CARES staff, Kim worked as a Career Counselor at Kentucky State University for 19 years.
Assistant Director/Learning Specialist
Vernida J. Emerson currently serves as the Assistant Director/Learning Skills Specialist at the University of Kentucky in the Office for Institutional Diversity’s Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES). In this position, she supervises tutors, pear academic coaches, as well as the CARES Ambassadors. She also facilitates learning skills workshops, conducts individual study skills sessions and coordinates marketing and outreach services.
Vernida is a graduate of the University of Kentucky where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management—Marketing. Vernida has a great passion for education and an even greater passion for sharing her love of learning.