Celebrating Inclusive Excellence: Cassandra Jean Johnson Awarded the Emmett P. ‘Buzz’ Burnam Award”

This post was originally published by News from the Blue - the UK Alumni Association blog.
Cassandra Jean Johnson holding the Emmett P. “Buzz” Burnam Inclusive Excellence and Expansion Impact Award.

Share news:

The University of Kentucky Office for Institutional Diversity has awarded Cassandra Jean Johnson the Emmett P. “Buzz” Burnam Inclusive Excellence and Expansion Impact Award.

This award is given to someone who emulates the spirit of Emmett P. “Buzz” Burnam. Burnam has been — and continues to be — an icon of inclusive excellence and leadership for the University of Kentucky. For more than four decades, he served UK as a champion for all students. As an architect for diversity recruitment and retention, he left an indelible mark that allows us to continue our mission of advancing Kentucky through nurturing and cultivating our diverse talent at UK.

Johnson, a Lexington native, was influenced by Burnam’s guidance during her high school years, which led her to choose UK over her initial preferences. This pivotal decision set the course for her successful academic and professional journey. 

Johnson graduated with her undergraduate and master’s degrees in social work from UK. Throughout her time there, she actively engaged in student organizations and support services, fostering her commitment to helping others succeed. 

For four years Johnson served as a faculty member at Berea College, where she excelled in student recruitment and support initiatives. In 2001, she transitioned to her current role as program counselor/advisor at Student Support Services at UK, under the mentorship of Lydia Wims. In this capacity, she has dedicated herself to assisting first-generation, low-income, disabled, nontraditional and transfer students, providing guidance in academic, career and personal matters. She has also been instrumental in coordinating peer mentoring programs and educational enrichment initiatives. 

Beyond her professional duties, Johnson is an active member of organizations such as the Kentucky Association of Educational Opportunity and Program Personnel (KAEOPP) and the Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity and Program Personnel (SAEOPP), advocating for underrepresented college students. She is an active member at Living Waters Grace Temple. 

With a passion for empowering young people and dismantling societal barriers, she views her work as a calling rather than merely a job. Her mission is to inspire resilience, perseverance and a thirst for knowledge in every student she encounters. 

Johnson was recognized during the Emmett P. “Buzz” Burnam Inclusive Excellence and Expansion Impact Award Gala on Friday, April 12 during this year’s Black Alumni Reunion. 

Visit the UK Alumni Blog for more information.

Recent Articles

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.