Patrick and Keiko

Dr. Keiko Tanaka is Professor of Rural Sociology and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Community & Leadership Development in the Department of Community & Leadership Development at the University of Kentucky.

Keiko: “I was born in Kyoto, Japan. Ever since I was in elementary school, I wanted to go the United States. My first chance came when I was 15 years old. I participated in a youth tour group to visit California for two weeks. Later, I spend my 12th grade in a small town in Michigan as a high-school exchange student. When I turned 21, I moved permanently to the United States, completing all of my post-secondary degrees, including BA in Sociology from Aquinas College, and MA and PhD in Sociology from Michigan State University.

After working three years at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand as a faculty member, I moved to Lexington, KY in 2001 to take an Assistant Professor position in Sociology at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. My work in the areas of sustainable agriculture and food systems led me to connect and collaborate with diverse, dynamic, and passionate leaders who tirelessly work to build a sustainable, healthy food economy and culture in Lexington and in the state of Kentucky. Before the COVID pandemic began, I was starting to become active in various Asian and Asian-American groups in Lexington. My dream is, once this pandemic is over, to begin a new project with my colleagues to collect and preserve stories about Asian and Asian-American Kentuckians, their challenges and triumphs.”

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