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Professional Development Opportunities

Start-to-Finish Mentorship Program

The Start-to-Finish mentorship program is a joint effort between CGPDI, the Graduate Student Congress, and The Graduate School as a multi-tiered intervention and support strategy for the University of Kentucky’s historically underrepresented populations in undergraduate, graduate, and professional fields of study. The first tier of the mentoring program includes graduate and professional students being paired with a faculty/staff member. The second tier of the program allows graduate and professional students to engage in mentorship by mentoring undergraduate students. Graduate and professional students will implement observed and learned mentorship behaviors from their experiences to act as a “guide” to the undergraduate students. These are one-to-one relationships to help retain students and faculty of diverse backgrounds to enhance interpersonal skills development. 

One of the unique characteristics of graduate and professional students is that students begin to contribute knowledge to a field of study, and they begin to function as members of a profession. This transitional period involves growth in the professional/academic arena and personal skills. To support professional and personal skill development, mentoring focuses on acculturation, priority setting, networking, career planning, and counseling related to the individual’s (mentee’s) identified goals toward advancement in their field. In addition, this multi-tiered mentoring program will offer participants professional and academic support and cultural and social capital resources as they matriculate through their tenure at the University of Kentucky.  

Application Link:

Start-to-Finish program flyer

Professional Development Grants

These awards are intended to encourage student professional development and networking through attendance or active participation at academic or professional meetings or conferences and study abroad opportunities by helping students defray the costs associated with these activities. 

  • Students are eligible for up to $500 in grant awards per semester.
  • Students may submit multiple grant requests, however, each grant request must be a separate application.
  • Funding is limited and grants will be awarded on a competitive basis.
  • PD Fund award recipients will be recognized, and at a later date will be invited to present on their experiences at a later date. (TBD)
  • Requests must fall in line with the mission of CGPDI

CGPDI Mission

The Center for Graduate and Professional Diversity Initiatives (CGPDI) is committed to supporting an inclusive community of scholars through the recruitment and retention of underrepresented and other historically marginalized students. CGPDI supports the university's diversity and inclusivity efforts by promoting community, academic excellence, and professional development in graduate and professional programs.


You must be a current UK graduate or professional student.  The PD fund will support student participation in a virtual meeting or conference of a professional association and opportunities related to his/her career objective or field of study.  Participation can include a presentation of scholarly work or active participation in a poster session, an annual conference, or a career expo. If there is a professional development opportunity you are interested in applying for but don’t specifically see listed here, please contact our office for more information. Individuals are eligible for up to $1,000 in grant funds per year unless additional funds become available. If so, students may apply to be eligible to receive additional funding.  Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.

Covered Expenses:

Expenses that may be covered by the fund include but are not limited to:

  • Association membership at the student rate (when used in conjunction with conference participation)
  • Conference fees (will only cover early bird rate where available) 
  • Presentation materials

Uncovered Expenses:

Expenses that are not covered by professional development funds include but are not limited to:

  • Food while traveling
  • Registration fees beyond the early bird rate

Participant Expectations:

PD Grant Recipients will be expected to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Timeliness. Conference fees, association memberships, materials, and travel expenses will be pre-paid by CGPDI. 
  • Awarded grant money must be used by May 30th of the fiscal year for the award. 
  • Submit a report (approx. 500 words) reflecting on the experience, 3-4 photos of themselves engaged in the grant activity (videos may also be submitted) - due within two weeks of experience.
  • A complete accounting of expenses, with itemized receipts - due within two weeks of experience.
  • PD Fund award recipients will be recognized, and at a later date will be invited to present on their experiences at a later date. (TBD)

Apply Here:

Professional development grant. Spring 2024. Applications open for eligible graduate students. $500 per grant award. Apply by Friday, February 16.


CGPDI offers a variety of workshops throughout the academic year focusing on issues pertinent to graduate and professional students.  Please visit the events page to view upcoming workshops and events. 

Office of Professional Enhancement

The Office of Graduate Student Professional Enhancement (GSPE) fosters scholarly and professional growth, pedagogical and career success, and holistic wellbeing. As a centralized resource, we offer a variety of in-person and online programs and services, guided by professionals with years of experience in graduate education and enriched by a broad spectrum of campus partnerships. We are also a place of belonging and networking, apart from yet aligned with departmental academic pursuits, where graduate students may discover transdisciplinary collaborations and explore diverse career paths.