CARES Staff

Toni ThomasToni Thomas
CARES Director
toni@uky.edu

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 Student Success.

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.

 

Kimberly ToomeyKim Toomey
Administrative Support Associate
kim.toomey@uky.edu

Kimberly Toomey currently serves as the front office manager in the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES). She has been working in CARES since 2006 and was 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.

 

Wilvena McDowell-BernardWilvena McDowell-Bernard
Freshmen Counselor
wilvena.mcdowell@uky.edu

Wilvena currently serves as the Freshmen Counselor Program Advisor in the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES), within the Office for Student Success. In this position, Wilvena works to help students transition from high school to college in efforts to create a memorable college-experience for first-year students.

Wilvena is a California native, with a B.A. in Mass Communications from North Carolina A&T State University and M.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Prior to joining the CARES staff, Wilvena worked as the Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator at Frontier Nursing University.

 

Mena SappMena Sapp
Sophomore Counselor
mena.sapp@uky.edu

Mena Sapp currently serves as the Sophomore Counselor in the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES), within the Office for Student Success. In this role, she works with sophomore students to identify and explore their academic and career interests, engage with campus resources, and help them to persist to the third year.

Mena is a first-generation graduate of the University of Kentucky where she received both her Bachelor of Arts in Communication (May 2018) and Master of Social Work (May 2020). Mena is passionate about student growth, leadership, and mental health awareness, and includes these components into her second-year programming efforts with students. Before joining the CARES team, Mena worked in UK's Office of Residence Life, both as a resident advisor and Graduate Assistant Resident Director, for four years.

 

Unique YoungUnique Young
Junior Counselor
unique.young@uky.edu

Unique Young is currently serving as the Junior Counselor in the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES), within the Office for Student Success. Previously Unique served as an Unconscious Bias trainer for UK’s Office for Institutional Diversity and worked to bridge the gap between various student groups, faculty, and staff across campus.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Strategic Communication from the University of Kentucky and during her undergraduate career she served in multiple student organizations as a student leader. Unique recently earned a Master of Science in Higher Education with a concentration in Student Affairs. She plans to continue being a change agent and advocate for at-risk student groups across campus! 

 

Kim Jones-Goldring
Associate Director/Senior Counselor
kim.jonesgoldring@uky.edu

Kim Jones-Goldring currently serves as the Associate Director & Senior Counselor in the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES), within the Office for Student Success.  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.

 

Vernida EmersonVernida Emerson
Assistant Director and Tutoring Coordinator/Learning Specialist
vjemer2@email.uky.edu

Vernida J. Emerson currently serves as the Assistant Director & Tutoring Coordinator/Learning Skills Specialist in the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES), within the Office for Student Success.  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.