UKAg students to speak at Friday’s Harambee graduation ceremony

Posted on May 7, 2015
Lexington, Ky.

Two students from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment will be the featured student speakers at Friday’s university-wide Harambee graduation ceremony.

Alaysia Radford, left, and Xavia Gantz PHOTO: Photos submitted by Alaysia Radford and Xavia Gantz

Seniors Alaysia Radford and Xavia Gantz were both selected by the ceremony’s committee to present their speeches at the event at 7 p.m. May 8 in the Grand Ballroom of the UK Student Center. Radford is the featured student speaker and Gantz will provide closing remarks. In addition to the UKAg students, Rashad Bigham, a journalism major, will introduce the keynote speaker Robert Mock Jr., UK vice president for Student Affairs.

Hosted by the UK Office for Institutional Diversity, Harambee is a more intimate graduation ceremony that recognizes the individual, cultural and communal achievements of the soon-to-be UK graduates.

Radford, a native of Cadiz, credits her transformation from a shy freshman to an outgoing student leader to her UKAg family and her late cousin Alessandra Wayne, who died two years ago from epilepsy.

While at the university, the family sciences major has held leadership positions within the Ribbons of Hope Student Epilepsy Organization and the UK chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. She was the recent recipient of the UK MANRRS 110 Percent Award.

“Dedicated, reliable, and passionate is what Alaysia Radford has meant to her MANRRS family, college and university,” said Quentin Tyler, UKAg assistant dean and director for diversity. “She is always willing and ready to provide that 110 percent in support no matter her circumstances.”

Radford has accepted a position as a 4-H youth development agent with the UK Cooperative Extension Service in Fayette County and will begin work later in May.

Growing up a child of Army parents, Gantz moved around the country before graduating from North Hardin High School. There, she was offered a full-tuition scholarship to UK.

“Ever since I became part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, I’ve found my footing at UK,” said Gantz, a community and leadership development major. “My professors have been amazing, and I’ve learned a lot.”

She has been a student leader both on and off campus, including serving as president of UK MANRRS, overall student coordinator for the UK Homecoming Coalition, at-large member of the UK Student Sustainability Council and parliamentarian, policy and procedures chair and fundraising chair for the Mu Epsilon chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

“She is a visionary, a natural born leader and has a work ethic like no other,” said Natasha Saunders, UKAg extension associate for diversity recruitment and retention. “She is passionate about developing others and does an amazing job at bringing out the leadership qualities in others.”

Following graduation, Gantz will go to Austin, Texas, to work for Farm Credit Bank of Texas as a diversity and inclusion intern. She hopes to return to UK in the fall to begin working on her master’s degree in Hospitality Management and Tourism.

The Harambee ceremony is sponsored by the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services, the Lyman T. Johnson Constituency Group, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center, Student Support Services, Health Colleges Student Diversity Services and the UK Office of Student Affairs.

Press release courtesy of UK CAFE

Tagged Post Topics Include: Alaysia Radford, Alessandra Wayne, Austin, Cadiz, CAFE, Delta Sigma Theta, Farm Credit Bank, MANRRS, Natasha Saunders, North Hardin High School, Quentin Tyler, Rashad Bigham, Robert Mock Jr, UK, Xavia Gantz