Between the year of 2006 and 2019, the percentage of Latino students the University of Kentucky has increased from 1% to 4.5% of the total student body. The increasing presence of Latino students at the University of Kentucky can be attributed to shifting migration trends in Kentucky during the 1990s, which has resulted in a growing pursuit of higher education by Latino high school students in the 2010s. In response to the increased presence of Latino students at the University, the Latino Student Community Specialist position was created by the Office for Institutional Diversity in the summer of 2017 and is housed in the Martin Luther King Center.
Ruth González Jiménez has served as the Latino Student Community Specialist since its inception. As an undergraduate, she was a founding member of both Latino Student Union and the University of Kentucky Associate Chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma, a historically Latina sorority with a multicultural membership. As the Latino Student Community Specialist, Ruth leads various initiatives to support Latino students through a variety of academic support, cultural, and social programs.
Ruth performs a variety of roles that help support the Latino student community at UK, such as:
- Organizing the Carne Asada food event and Tarea Tuesdays
- Supporting Sigma Lambda Gamma and Sigma Lambda Beta with Dia de Los Muertos educational programming
- Bringing guest speakers to campus
- Advising the Latino Student Union, Leading Latinas, and other Latino-serving student organizations
- Connecting students to on-campus and community resources (financial aid, immigration support, family support, etc.)
The creation of a Latino Student Community Specialist position through the MLK Center has allowed for greater support. In the years since this position was founded the University has seen an increase in programming and support services for Latino students, greater stability and sustainability for Latino student-serving organizations, and an increasing number of Latino student-serving organizations on campus.
Martin Luther King Center. (n.d.). King Center Staff [Ruth González Jiménez photo].
Latino students, University of Kentucky, Ruth González Jiménez, Latino Student Community Specialist, Martin Luther King Center