New Era of You: UK Social Work Celebrates the Sarah Bennett Holmes Awards 

UK marked the 30th Sarah Bennett Holmes Award Luncheon at the UK Gatton Student Center, honoring women's contributions across the university in academia and beyond. 

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Lexington, Ky. — The University of Kentucky (UK) marked the 30th Sarah Bennett Holmes Award Luncheon at the UK Gatton Student Center Ballrooms on March 27, honoring women’s contributions across the university in academia and beyond. 

The theme for this year’s event was “New Era of You”. Keynote speaker Dr. Trisha Clements-Montgomery, dean of students at UK, explored the significance of entering a new era, referencing pivotal times including the Victorian Era, Elizabethan Era, the “Queen B Era,” and Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour”. She reflected on the cultural impact of these eras, noting the transformation of trends in architecture, fashion, music and most notably – female leadership. 

“I am appreciative of Sarah Bennett Holmes stepping into her era,” dean Clements-Montgomery said. “Because of this, I have been empowered to become the second female dean of students in UK’s history.” 

The awards luncheon is part of a larger, ongoing mission to support and elevate the roles of women within the university community and beyond. Colleges and units across UKs campus are encouraged to nominate women in their departments for a variety of awards.  

This year, the Women’s Forum introduced the “30 under 30” category to honor individuals under 30, including undergraduates and recent alumni, for their notable contributions to the university and the Commonwealth. Among the awardees were four College of Social Work (CoSW) students: Cierra Couch, Brianna Holliday, Kiarah Raglin, and Kotomi Yokokura. 

Additionally, the luncheon awarded The Sarah Bennett Holmes Faculty and Staff Award to two UK employees—one faculty and one staff member—for their impact on women’s issues within the university and the Commonwealth. Dr. Aubrey Jones, an Assistant Professor at CoSW with a focus on maternal mental health and an affiliate in the Appalachian Studies program, was among the nominations. Jones’s research is dedicated to the health of reproductive-age women and factors influencing their access to healthcare and mental health services. She has a variety of published work and ongoing research in these areas.  

“Sarah Bennet Holmes broke barriers and built bridges” shared Dr. Kendriana Price, UK Women’s Forum Board Chair-Elect in her closing remarks. “She is a reminder that we are the determinate of our own success.”   

Sarah Bennett Holmes was a distinguished dean of women at the University of Kentucky, who tirelessly championed the rights of women throughout her career. Widowed at a young age, Holmes raised four children while completing her education. She then began a successful career at UK where she inspired young women to persevere in the face of hardship and pursue their career goals. Among her accomplishments, Holmes developed work programs for women during the Depression. 

We are proud of the CoSW students, staff and faculty, and broader community of women at UK for their tireless contributions to advancing the education, empowerment, and wellbeing of women in the Bluegrass and beyond.  

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For 85 years, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (CoSW) has been a leader in social work education. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world. Like the University, CoSW is an organization that cultivates a diverse academic community characterized by interpersonal fairness and social justice. We are fiercely committed to developing outstanding social work professionals — leaders who will serve individuals, families, and communities through innovative and effective practices that are guided by cultural competency, systematic ethical analysis, and a keen and pragmatic understanding of the human condition.