Servant Leader: Uriah Carter hired as new CHS Director of Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

When people used to say, “Thank you” to Uriah Carter’s Granny, the elder woman would never say “You’re welcome.”

Instead, she would respond in this way: “I’m just here to serve.” And it made a big difference in Carter’s life.

“That type of servant leadership has always stuck with me — and we’re servants, too, here in the College of Health Sciences,” said Carter, who was hired in March as the Colleges’ director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “I’m looking forward to helping out as much as I can.”

Carter, a Louisville native, is a two-time Kentucky graduate; she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2016 and a master’s in Social Work in 2019.

But what drew her to Health Sciences? And why did she come to UK in the first place?

Let’s meet her … here’s 5 questions with Uriah Carter:

What got you interested in coming to UK as a student?

I was not even thinking about Kentucky, but my high school counselor pulled me aside one day and said, ‘Hey, UK is having a recruitment day.’ He told me that if you went, they’d waive the application fee, you got your transportation for free, they’d feed you and you got a day off school. I’d only been to Lexington once at that point, so I decided to go. Once I saw the campus, I just thought it was so beautiful.

And I saw a lot of students who looked like me. Now, the only thing I’d heard about Kentucky was the athletic tradition — and the movie Glory Road, so I thought I would not see a lot of diversity here. But I did. Growing up in Louisville, it was nothing for me to see an interracial couple, or a trans student. Diversity was second-nature.

I didn’t realize how much I cared about it until I actually got here.

And you became interested in diversity and psychology issues?

Yes, I found out I was actively seeking a university with diversity. It was nice seeing that here. I really felt it was God’s purpose, me coming here. And in my sophomore year I found out I was very passionate about helping people, but I knew I wasn’t going to be a doctor. I actually had a copy of the book, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, by Mary Pipher, and it talks about how she helped different girls face different types of trauma or self-esteem issues. I really liked how she utilized psychology and therapy to help somebody in these emotionally distressed states.

And I also loved my Resident Assistant while I was here. So I became an RA, too, because my RA was amazing. I got here and I was very much an introvert, and my RA convinced me to get out more. I was able to go to her when I had problems, and I decided I wanted to help students like that, too. And part of that job is programming and focusing on inclusion and making people feel like they’re welcome and belong.

What led to your graduate degree in Social Work?

I learned about the MSW program, and it aligned with how I wanted to be an advocate, helping people. Plus, I was already kind of doing that as an RA in residence life — which is a great source of support for the college students.

I ended up working at the University of Cincinnati as a Community Coordinator, then came back here to focus on residence life again.

You were ready to come back home? What drew you to the College of Health Sciences?

I was just intrigued because there are more strategic-thinking, more STEM-minded individuals here, and I’m going to be a big part of constructing and reshaping culture.

I am inquisitive, and here in Health Sciences, we’re here to be helpful, and I want to help, too.

What are your goals in this new job?

I just want to help create a community where people feel empowered, and they feel like they’re welcomed — and not just welcomed — but free to be who they want to be, whether you’re a student or faculty or staff. I want this to be a place where we can trust each other.

These are complex times. There is a lot of distrust and fear out there, and these things in the world are not going to go away.

It really all comes down to respect and communication.