As I walked across the stage in May 1976 to receive my diploma from Prestonsburg Community College, a sweet voice called out from the audience, theres my Mommy. No sweeter words could a Mommy ever hear than those.
I was a non-traditional student with two small children, one of whom was born at the end of my spring semester in 1975. My semester ended on Friday, May 2, and she was born on Monday, May 5, finals week. My professors gave me time to recoup and I took my finals a week late.
PCC gave me the affordable opportunity to complete my education close to home. During my last semester, I was hired by Eimco Elkhorn Corporation as a result of my six weeks on-the-job-training that the College required for graduation. I continued in that position several months and then applied for a secretarial job with Unit Coal Corporation right in my hometown of McDowell. Soon I was promoted to office manager and personal secretary for the owners of several coal companies and remained there for 33 years. While working part-time for this company, I opened my own catering business in my home.
I worked closely with the Floyd County Health Department making sure I met all requirements for proper licensing and food handling. A few years later, my business outgrew its space. I merged my business with a local Christian Gift Shop and the Perfect Setting Caf and Catering was established on June 1, 2003. Two short weeks later, I was flooded with 2 inches of water in the Caf. This didnt stop me; my staff and many from the community rolled up their sleeves and within a couple of days we were up and running again. I was told, according to statistics, a catering and caf in a rural area like McDowell should only make it about one year. Within 11 months, The Perfect Setting was named Business of the Year by the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce.
So much for statistics! I served as a Floyd County Chamber of Commerce Chairman and continue to support that organization today. The Perfect Setting Caf and Catering served many businesses, family weddings, reunions, birthday parties, showers, planned political rallies, schools and churches with full catering services at an affordable price. I love the thrill of accomplishment when hard work and planning results in success. Our doors were opened for ten years when I decided the time was right to take more time to enjoy my children and grandchildren. I consider one of my greatest accomplishments during these ten years is giving women employment opportunities close to home. My years at PCC prepared me for hard workgave me the needed skills and knowledgestirred my compassion for othersall resulting in my fulfilling my lifelong dream of owning my own business. I am now working part time in the community while I continue to cater special occasions and volunteer in my church.
My husband of 43 years, Leonard Cieslak, is a retired social service specialist for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He has encouraged and supported me in all my endeavors as well as supporting our children and grandchildren. He has encouraged many men and women to further their education by attending Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
Attending PCC and BSCTC has been and continues to be a family affair. Our daughter, Courtney, attended PCC as a senior at McDowell Consolidated Schools and attended summer school in 1993. She continued her education at Morehead State University where she received a Masters in Clinical Psychology. She was named Graduate Student of the Year at MSU. She had the privilege of teaching at BSCTC and is currently employed by McDowell ARH as a licensed therapist in Senior Adult Care. Our granddaughter has also attended BSCTC and is continuing to work to further her education.
BSCTC is an important thread that runs through our family and many families in our region. We are so blessed to have BSCTC, Dr. Edwards and the professors and staff, who go the extra mile to help our people to prepare for a brighter future. My hope is that you continue to grow and expand in the years to come.
Feel free to email Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org.