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Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, the first African-American to hold statewide office in Kentucky, will speak at Eastern Kentucky University’s annual celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The sixth annual event is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 28, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Keen Johnson Ballroom on the Richmond campus. This year’s theme is “Where Do We Go from Here? … Leading for Change.”

In addition to dinner, the event will also feature musical selections by EKos, the University’s new a capella group, and presentations of the Student Community Service Award to Dylan Bogard and the Student Leadership Award to Ivonne Gonzalez.

The banquet is free, but advance registration is required for the dinner. A limited number of seats are still available on a first-come, first-served basis, and can be obtained by calling Lisa Daniels at 622-4373 or stopping by the EKU Multicultural Center Office (Powell 110).

Also, students are invited to a meet-and-greet session with the lieutenant governor at 5:30 p.m. in Walnut Hall of the Keen Johnson Building.

Hampton was born in 1958 in inner-city Detroit and for much of her youth grew up in a single-parent household headed by her mother. After high school, she worked in the automotive industry for five years to help pay for college. She earned a degree in industrial engineering from Wayne State University in 1985 and joined the U.S. Air Force as a computer systems officer, writing code and testing software. Her seven years with the USAF included a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm.

After her military service, Hampton began a 19-year career in the corrugated packaging industry, beginning as a crew supervisor on the production floor and eventually rising to plant manager. While working full time, she also found time to earn an MBA degree from the University of Rochester. In 2015, she was inducted into the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame in recognition of her military and community service.

She first ran for public office in 2014, explaining her entry into political life: “Sometimes you’re screaming at the TV, you see things that need to be improved, and you’re screaming that someone needs to do something. Well, sometimes that someone is you.”

Hampton and her Republican gubernatorial running mate, Gov. Matt Bevin, won election to the state’s highest offices last fall by approximately 85,000 votes.