A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Area residents among student leaders on the University of Kentucky student visitor team

By Ann Blackford
University of Kentucky

When Troy Dancer first stepped foot onto the University of Kentucky’s campus as a prospective student, he experienced a whirlwind of emotions. It was his first official college tour, so there was a heightened sense of both excitement and nervousness building up inside of him as he made the drive from Springboro, Ohio, to Lexington.
“I don’t remember a lot about my first campus tour, but I do remember my student visitor tour guide was amicable and social, and played a role in calming some of my nerves and anxiety,” he said.
Dancer is currently a senior and serves as co-director of operations for the UK Visitor Center tour guides. The tour guides roll out the Big Blue Carpet to campus visitors and serve as the “first face” of the university to guests each year. As student ambassadors for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and the university at large, tour guides represent the Big Blue Nation to prospective students, their guests and other campus visitors by sharing their own unique UK story.

The UK Visitor Center, housed in the Office for Student Success, first opened in the summer of 1984 and is currently located in the Bill Gatton Student Center. In the first year of operation, the Visitor Center introduced 5,000 visitors to campus. Today, more than 32,000 prospective students and guests visit the campus.
The student visitor tour guides are a paid student employment position. They have a wide range of duties which include serving as campus tour guides as well as student recruiters at university events. Staff members also assist with day-to-day operations at the Visitor Center and are committed to representing the compassionate, dedicated and enthusiastic UK community.
Nicole Vaughan, a senior from Walton, currently serves as co-director of tours, said that although she is from Kentucky, she wasn’t sure she wanted to stay in-state to go to school.
“Once I toured UK, I knew it was for me! Being a tour guide is the best job I could ask for. Getting to impact the lives of prospective students just like my tour guide did for me has been amazing. Every single day is different, and you get to interact with people from all over the country. Every day we get to share why we love being Wildcats!”
UK Visitor Center Director Grace Johnson says being a tour guide opens doors of opportunities for students, both professionally and personally.
“Tour guides are offered unique opportunities to attend university events and network with campus constituents, represent UK as student speakers at orientation and off-campus recruitment events, and develop leadership and communication skills that serve them in their future career,” Johnson said. “Student guides also become a part of a tight-knit community and often form life-long friendships from their time as Visitor Center guides.”
Many students reflect on their time at the Visitor Center as their favorite thing they were involved with on campus. “We love to create a work-environment in which students feel valued and appreciated and do great work as a result,” Johnson said. “Our tour guides are one of the most important pieces of our undergraduate admissions and recruitment puzzle. The work they do is important and I, along with the leadership team, work hard to make sure our students feel appreciated.”
Dancer said it is rewarding and gratifying to work with such a diverse population of students who love UK.
“I enjoy sharing with prospective students and families what makes our university and Lexington so special to us. We all have different stories, backgrounds and experiences that brought us to the University of Kentucky and have kept us here,” he said. “I am so grateful to be able to work at the Visitor Center and create connections with all of our guests who come in like I did, experiencing some of that same anxiety and stress.”
To learn more about becoming a member of UK’s Student Visitor Team, go to
Members of the UK Student Visitor Team are as follows:
Nicole Vaughan, Co-Director of Tours, Walton, KY
Briley Chambers, Co-Director of Tours, Benton, KY
Troy Dancer, Co-Director of Operation, Springboro, OH
Casey Shelton, Co-Director of Operations, Crestview Hills, KY
Matthew Williams, Co-Director of Wildcat Ambassador Program, Berea, KY
Carson Pemberton, Co-Director of Wildcat Ambassador Program, Hopkinsville, KY
Katelyn Agdanowski, Dublin, OH
Morgan Burleigh, Fort Thomas, KY
Grace Bush, Owensboro, KY
Andrew Butkovich, Columbus, OH
Kendell Clark, Geneva, IL
Trey Coburn, Ashland, KY
Grace Colella, Harrisonburg, VA
Jordan Colella, Nicholasville, KY
Mackenzie Conn, Shepherdsville, KY
Raven Cox, Atlanta, GA
Nicole Cozzi, Chicago, IL
Jake Crawford, Cattlesburg, KY
Emoni Dix, Indianapolis, IN
Mikey Doud, Westerville, OH
Riley Fort, Hopkinsville, KY
Leah Gill, Allensville, KY
Jordan Halpin, Fort Thomas, KY
Kennadi Jacobs, Yuma, AZ
Nick Joseph, Lexington, KY
Mariah Kendell, Elizabethtown, KY
Delphine Koutone, Charlottesville, VA
Erin Lemmon, Roswell, GA
Hallie Lindsey, Bowling Green, KY
Julia Loeb, Toledo, OH
Millie Grace Malek, Homewood, AL
Sydney Nichols, Mansfield, IL
Johnny Nitti, Bartlett, IL
Lauren Nunez, Harlan, KY
Hayden Osborne, Pikeville, KY
Emerson Palazzo, Frisco, TX
Dakari Parish-Baker, Toledo, OH
Allison Parks, Hamersville, OH
Emma Pence, St. Louis, MO
Lauren Reitman, Findley, OH
Veronica Reyes, Hardinsburg, KY
Dylan Roberts, Ashland, KY
Aaron Smith, Dayton, OH
Matt Susemichel, Indianapolis, IN

Kathryn Szumski, Winfield, IL
Justin Turner, Roswell, GA
Alana Urquhart, Niles, IL
Olivia Utley, Clay, KY
Ashtyn Vandiver, Bowling Green, KY
Maddie Webb, Paintsville, KY
Matthew Williams, Hazard, KY
Taylor Williams, Hazard, KY
Molly Wilson, Loveland, OH
Matthew Wirasakti, Lexington, KY
Andrew Witak, PeWee Valley, KY
Daniel Young, Louisville, KY

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