For nearly 20 years, she has supported college access efforts in central Kentucky through her grant-writing efforts, including the recent $75 million GEAR UP grant that supports efforts to increase college attainment in low-income and rural communities. In 2011, Gentry was awarded the GEAR Up College Advocate of the Year award.
A first-generation Berea College graduate from rural Appalachia, Gentry is also a volunteer coordinator for Project Meet Me Halfway, a mentoring and support service for former foster care children, and an advocate for several women’s organizations.
“Today we celebrate Kentucky’s outstanding alumni and faculty, two of our state’s greatest assets,” said Bob King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education. “We congratulate our alumni for achieving national stature in their chosen careers and our outstanding faculty for leading the way to greater excellence in teaching, service and innovation.”
Other recipients of the Oak Award for outstanding alumni include:
- Virginia Fox, 1961 graduate of Morehead State University and former executive director of Kentucky Educational Television and former secretary of the Kentucky Education Cabinet
- Thomas Hammond, 1967 University of Kentucky graduate and longtime NBC sportscaster
Recipients of the Acorn Award for outstanding faculty at Kentucky’s colleges and universities include:
- Dr. William Loftus, psychology professor, Big Sandy Community and Technical College
- Dr. Jeffrey Okeson, professor and chair, Department of Oral Health, University of Kentucky College of Dentistry