Students Share Their Journey to Graduation Day
Graduation day is a time for celebration.
For Melinda Fletcher it was that, and then some.
It was a time to celebrate her anniversary with her husband, Steven; her mother, Bonnie Boggs’, birthday, and the graduation of her brother, Louie Jude.
“That’s a lot to celebrate, but we have a lot of reasons to smile today,” said Melinda, who graduated with an Associate in Applied Science in Medical Information Technology from Big Sandy Community and Technical College on Saturday, May 6 at the Mountain Arts Center.
A couple of years ago, Fletcher was at a crossroads. Her job with the Martin County Fiscal Court as a jail transportation officer was phased out and she was unemployed.
“I had attended Mayo Technical School years ago in the healthcare field, but healthcare had changed so much, so I decided to go back to school,” she said. Fletcher now works as an Allergy Technician for a local physician’s office.
Her brother, Louie, who earned his Associate in Applied Science degree in Electrical Technology, is currently working at Toyota in Georgetown, Ky.
“I can’t say enough about Big Sandy and the experience I had here,” said Jude. “It is the reason I am where I am at today.”
Nathaniel Bevins, 18, of Belfry, is one of 10 members of the inaugural class of the Pike County Early College Academy. He earned both his Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees on Saturday, May 6.
“The Early College Academy is the best decision I have ever made in my educational career up to this point,” said Bevins, who is a senior at Belfry High School. He was accepted to BSCTC’s nursing program and will begin this fall. “Big Sandy gave me a gateway to get to my career a little faster. The professors and staff at Big Sandy have treated me like family, and I never thought I was a number here. The Pike County school system has taken great care of us as well.”
Bevins juggled his full-time course load while working as a clinical scribe at Pikeville Medical Center’s Leonard Lawson Cancer Center.
“Being at the hospital has been great,” he said. “It really helped me put things into perspective.”
For Myra Allen, the downturn in the coal industry found her unemployed three years ago. She was an assistant business unit manager for a large company who worked closely with the coal industry.
“My husband [James] encouraged me to go back to school,” said Allen. Her husband, James Allen, is a life-long educator and currently works as an assistant principal at Prestonsburg High School. “It was difficult for me because I had always been a person in charge, and I was left without a job and a routine. It was scary. I feel like I am marketable now, and I can reenter the workforce with confidence.”
Myra’s hope is to transfer to Morehead State University and continue her education.
For Daryl Showalter and Destiny Showalter, it was, too, a family affair. Daryl was starting to drive his daughter to school when she encouraged him to take the leap.
They both did. They both earned degrees and graduated together on Saturday, May 6. Daryl earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance and Destiny earned an Associate in Applied Science in Human Services.
“It’s something I wish I would have done sooner,” said Daryl, 53. “Going to college with my daughter helped take a lot of the anxiety away from going to college.”
Wesley James McClellan Brown walked across the stage with his Associate in Arts degree in memory of his father on Saturday, May 6.
“He was the reason I never gave up,” said Brown. His father, Boyd Brown, passed away in March.
For Laynah Vance, who earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Visual Communication, it was something she did in honor of her cousin who passed away 16 years ago. She wore purple in her honor.
For Kelli Jo Blair, of Inez, it was another step on an incredible journey. She earned her GED in 2015. The mother of three kids, including one with autism, it is her hope to use her education as a platform to help those with Autism, as well as those families who support them.
“This college encouraged and inspired me to believe in myself,” said Blair. “I’m just getting started.”
She intends on continuing her education at Eastern Kentucky University and plans to major in psychology with a concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“Graduation is a day of celebration, but it is also a time of reflection of the respective paths that got a student to this day,” said Dr. Alan Scheibmeir, interim president of BSCTC. “The commonality shared by all is that their respective paths brought them to this point of accomplishment.”