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WKU sociology and criminology department hosts Black Alumni Panel

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Tyler Hunter speaks about how WKU affected his career during the “Black Alumni Panel” at Mahurin Honors College on Feb. 7, 2024.

In honor of Black History Month, the WKU sociology and criminology department hosted a Black Alumni Panel on Wednesday, Feb. 7. 

The panel consisted of four WKU alumni who had graduated recently with a degree in sociology or criminology.

The first alumni was Kendra Woodard, who is currently a police officer at the Bowling Green Police Department. She applied to be a cadet her senior year at WKU, and after graduation, she worked to become an officer. 

Woodard spoke about how she pushed herself to step outside of her element and that achieving it wasn’t easy.

“I was a young black girl, with red nails and eyeshadow in a room with grown white men,”  Woodard said. 

Woodard noted to students that the best piece of advice that she learned at WKU was to treat each class equally even if it isn’t a part of their major. 

“If you weren’t capable of achieving it and didn’t belong, then the door would have never opened for you,” Woodard said.

The second alumni was Ron Butler, a counselor at Family Care Counseling who started the non-profit “Bossed Up: Reentry and Recovery Services.” 

Butler had a non-traditional experience at WKU, originally starting in 2007 and not finishing until 2019.

“I wasn’t ready for life as a college student [or] the freedoms,” Butler said.

After finding his passion in helping others, Butler decided to continue his work at WKU participating in the sociology and criminology department. 

“If you put the work in, [then] you’ll get what you work for,” Butler said.

The third alumni was Tyler Hunter, who currently works as a Child Welfare Consultant. Hunter grew up in the foster system and admitted to being confused about his identity.

“Education and school [allowed] me to create my own identity,” Hunter said.

Hunter started his experience at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College and ultimately decided it wasn’t for him and continued his education at WKU.

Hunter quickly realized that his passion was for helping people and realized he didn’t have to be a doctor to do this.

“You don’t have to wait until you’re thirty years old or even have a degree to start making changes,” Hunter said.

Before Hunter graduated with his bachelor’s degree, he had worked at the national level to pass laws.

The final alumni was Sydney Jones, a child and family therapist at FamilyCare Counseling. 

Jones began her career working as an intern for StepStone Family and Youth Services and later she decided to become a foster parent herself after her time as an intern.

“Even though I can’t change the system, I can change what goes on in [their] homes,” Jones said.

Jones later started Action Incorporated, a non-profit organization for teens who need mentoring. 

Jones’ advice to students was to ask for help and then let people continue to help. 

The floor was later opened to students for questions that they had for each of the alumni.

Holli Drummond, sociology and criminology department chair, hoped that students were able to connect with something that one of the speakers said.

“We want to help students tell their story and the story is always unique and it develops over time and hopefully this is an example of that,” Drummond said. 

Sira Diame, sophomore criminology major, enjoyed hearing from Black professionals in the Bowling Green community. 

“I learned from the event just to take the risks that you don’t think will happen,” Diame said.


News reporter Kaylee Hawkins can be reached at [email protected]

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