Orta Serves as UK Commencement Speaker

Dec. 14, 2012

Luis Orta, who has excelled on the track and cross country course throughout his career at Kentucky, proved his excellence in the classroom and in the community when he served as commencement speaker for the University's December Graduation Ceremony in Memorial Coliseum on Friday.

The Caracas, Venezuela native graduated with a dual degree in international studies and Hispanic studies. He has also been an active contributor to the community helping lead the track and field/cross country program's Shoe Drive, collecting footwear for those in need the past two seasons.

Terri-Ann Grant and Walter Luttrell joined Orta as the track and field/cross country program's December graduates.

Orta reflected on the long road traveled to reach the honor of addressing his fellow graduates on Friday before the ceremony.

"It was a lot of hard work, because running track and going to school is not easy," Orta said. "From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, I'm going to class and then to practice, then to class again and to practice again, so it's pretty hard. But I love what I do, and I feel like if you love what you do, then it becomes easy. It's not work for me, it's my passion, and it's what I do every day." 

Orta also has enjoyed one of the most decorated track and field and cross country careers in school history during his time as an undergraduate.  

He produced one of the best performances in Southeastern Conference Championships history in 2012 on his home indoor track, becoming first SEC student-athlete to win both the 3,000 meters and 5K in the same championships since 2007. That performance helped earn him 2012 SEC Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year.  

Orta concluded his final cross country season with his best-ever result, reaching the NCAA Championships for the first time after he won yet another race in the season-opener. He currently holds the Venezuelan national record for the mile.

Orta has garnered All-SEC honors five times, and is the school record holder in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, the indoor 5K and the indoor 3K. 

His parents were in the audience on Friday as they are visiting Luis in the United States for the first time.

Video from the ceremonies will be available on the Unviersity of Kentucky YouTube channel the week after graduation.