PHOTO GALLERY: CHS Graduation Day Filled with Joy, Tears

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

There were a range of emotions when students in the College of Health Sciences graduated Friday morning.

Joy. Pride. Relief. And even a bit of sadness.

“It’s weird,” said William Byrd, who graduated from the Human Health Sciences program, pre-PA track. “It’s just a weird feeling. It feels good, though.”

It made sense. Some students were happy to be finished, but sad to see their time at UK come to an end. Then again, others were graduating and just taking a short break before they start another degree from UK.

While not all students in CHS are graduating — many will be taking classes throughout the summer and into the fall, while some programs graduate throughout the year — dozens in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs walked across the stage Friday morning at Rupp Arena and received their diplomas.

It was an important event for all, but even more so for the undergraduates, who were high school seniors during COVID, which meant those ceremonies were canceled. For many of the students, this graduation was their first in-person.

“A lot of us didn’t know what to expect because we’ve never done it like this before,” said Lindsey Fiori, who graduated with a Human Health Sciences degree on the pre-dental track. “We’re all wondering what side the tassels have to be on. But it is a fun day.”

Also included in the crowd was UK tight end football player Jordan Dingle, who graduated with a degree in Clinical Leadership and Management. He will work on a graduate degree next year as he continues his football career as a Wildcat.

“I’ll be pursuing my graduate degree in kinesiology,” he said.

Not far from Dingle in the CLM section, one chair was left empty. There, faculty and family reserved it for senior Madison Becknell, 21, a CLM student who passed away in a car accident Feb. 28. Flowers, cords, and a cap and gown were placed in the chair, along with a large picture of Becknell, who was honored with a posthumous diploma.

“It’s just beautiful,” a fellow graduate said of Becknell's picture.

But perhaps Ryne Hardesty’s comments best described the entirety of the day. Hardesty graduated with a degree in Physician Assistant Studies.

“A little surreal, but exciting,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming. Couldn’t have done it without the PAS Department and CHS staff. Thanks to all!”

See our PHOTO GALLERY here!