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A&S Students Among Honors Rising Leaders Cohort

By Meghan Arrell

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 29, 2022) — This month, the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College Rising Leaders program completed its first semester of programming. The first cohort of Rising Leaders was announced in January 2022; the program is partially funded by a generous donor.

This group of 14 served as the pilot for the program and has helped to shape the trajectory of the program and chart the themes most important to them.

  • Mara Montoya, a computer science major from Westerville, Ohio.
  • Promise Kayembe, a human health science major from Lexington.
  • Brennan Graham, a computer science and economics major from Lexington..
  • Princess Magor Agbozo, a public health major from Mesaieed, Qatar.
  • Joshua Plain, a physics and finance major from Hanson, Kentucky.
  • Madelyn Steineker, a chemistry major from Prospect, Kentucky..
  • Hannah Hardendorf, a neuroscience major from Lexington.
  • Savannah Saylor, a psychology and neuroscience major from Richmond, Kentucky.
  • Ainsley Wuerth, a bio-medical engineering major from Louisville.
  • Artin Asadipooya, a neuroscience major from Lexington.
  • Sanjana Rahman, a psychology major from Frankfort.
  • Hallie Rice, a political science major from Louisville.
  • Abraham Alhamdani, a neuroscience major from Frankfort.
  • Caroline Allen, a biology major from Oakwood, Ohio.

The Rising Leaders program is open to Honors students of all majors and minors and a commitment of five semesters, running from the spring of a student’s sophomore year through completion. Entrance involves a competitive application process in the fall of the student’s sophomore year. After completing the program, participants will be able to define their own leadership strengths and preferences, connect their leadership practices to their values, evaluate their leadership approach, improve their leadership skills and define strategies for ongoing leadership development.

The Rising Leaders program is led by Hannah LeGris , Lewis Honors College Center for Personal Development counselor, and was conceived by Laura Bryan, T.G. Lewis Endowed Scholar in Organizational Behavior and acting dean of the college. LeGris hopes that at upon completion, students will have a deeper understanding of what leadership requires.

“Through this five-semester program, we will strive to develop self-aware, principled and skilled leaders who can positively impact their communities, the Commonwealth, and, ideally, the world,” LeGris said. “The structure and length of the program facilitates ongoing reflection, knowledge-building, and learning through both individual and collective work."

This semester, Rising Leaders participated in a monthly gathering, which including an etiquette dinner, book club and self-awareness retreat. They also engaged in online discussion forums, articles and reflections throughout the semester. Each student was also required to meet with their Lewis Honors College personal development counselor and choose from a selection of workshops and events to attend.  

These five semesters of consistent programming, leading up to graduation, was appealing to students like Honors sophomore Sanjana Rahman, who wanted to bring these lessons in leadership to their career. 

"Rising Leaders interested me because I knew I wanted to strengthen my leadership skills during my time in college and for my career in the healthcare field. I am excited to be with a cohort of student leaders that are passionate, motivated, and energized about learning,” Rahman said.

As part of the Rising Leaders program, students examine leadership and learn strategies on how to become a better leader. The work they do in the program will be applied to their personal and professional goals, with special attention to holistic development. Rising Leaders focus on key leadership competencies delivered through semester long programs, each with a different theme. In its semester, the program focused on understanding and defining leadership and building self-awareness.  

Honors sophomore Joshua Plain enjoyed the people involved in the experience most of all.

"The Rising Leaders Program provides us opportunities to learn from both professional coaches and a high-achieving, diverse cohort. I am honored to explore leadership with such a fantastic group of people," he said.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.