CHS graduating senior Kennedy Brown: ‘This is a great moment’

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

Kennedy Brown says she’s excited — and a little nervous.

It makes sense.

Kennedy, a native of Chicago, Ill, is graduating this weekend from the College of Health Sciences with a degree in Human Health Sciences, while also a student in the Lewis Honors College. To top it off, she was one of four students selected to speak at the ceremony. She will address the audience at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 6, at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center.

“Being selected as a commencement speaker is such a surreal feeling,” she said. “I feel honored to address the 2023 graduates and share my story with them in the hopes to offer inspiration. Being able to witness my dreams come into fruition makes me feel good knowing that all my hard work has finally paid off. The University of Kentucky will always be a unique part of my identity and I refer to it throughout my speech as ‘home.’ No matter where we end up in the world, my fellow graduates and I will always be Wildcats and will share that special connection for a lifetime.”

During her time at UK, Kennedy conducted research as a Chellgren Fellow and Markey STRONG Scholar. Her most recent research experience involved working with the BREATHE team at UK’s College of Nursing, focusing on tobacco/radon risk, as well as the process for lung cancer screening shared decision-making in primary care offices. 

She is the recipient of the William C. Parker Diversity Scholarship and the College of Health Sciences Academic Excellence Award, among other awards and honors. She is involved in the Black is Gold student organization and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Iota Sigma Chapter. In 2019, she was named Miss Black UK. Kennedy currently works as a nursing care technician for UK Chandler Emergency Services.

The next stop in her journey will be the Master of Science in Nursing Program at Johns Hopkins University. Still, with all of this going on, Kennedy was nice enough to give us a few minutes of her time. We wanted to know how she was feeling, what she might say on Saturday, and what she will miss most about her time in the College of Health Sciences.

Here’s 5 questions with … graduating senior Kennedy Brown:

1. Why UK?

UK was always on the list of colleges I wanted to visit. We had a UK Preview Night in Chicago where I learned about Human Health Sciences, and I told my Mom we had to go visit campus. Then, on my visit I fell in love with the school. It gave me such a sense of home. When I got into UK, and then I was admitted to the Lewis Honors College, it all started to feel like it was coming together. This was the place for me.

2. What do you think it will feel like when you’re on stage on Saturday?

I think, more than anything, I’m going to feel excited to take on a new chapter in my life. I’m going to have something like 16 family members here supporting me, and I just want to continue to be good role model for my younger sister and brother. Hopefully, I don’t get teary-eyed when I have to give my speech (laughs).

3. What is one thing you want to relay to the audience in your speech?

I want the graduating class to know that, whether it seems this way or not, there’s always someone here cheering for you. And you can overcome failure and keep moving forward. Some of us in this class have had academic struggles, or lost loved ones, but whatever occurred, we kept going. And we all need to be proud of that — this is a great moment. For me, I had some instances where I struggled academically. Organic chemistry, physics — these were challenging classes. But we all made it. Be proud.

4. What in CHS prepared you the most for graduate school?

The professors in this college prepared me. They were always there with a helping hand, and they really cared about my success. And the way we were taught to take a holistic approach to healthcare. My classes gave me a larger view of the healthcare system, and having that background really prepared me for this next step.

5. What would you tell someone who was interested in CHS at UK?

I would tell them to follow their heart, and that no matter what part of healthcare they want to pursue, CHS will prepare them for it. Whatever path you want to take, you’ll have the support that you need.

BONUS: What will you miss most about CHS?

Probably the connections that I’ve been able to build here. I’ve met so many great friends and faculty here, just not having them by my side every day is something I’m going to have to get used to. I just hope that I’ll be able to establish similar connections in the future.

Congratulations to Kennedy!