Leslie Bays, a counselor at BSCTC and chair of the scholarship committee, speaks to the large crowd gathered Thursday night at the 13th Annual Scholarship Reception on the Mayo campus.

You didnt have to look far to see how scholarships help students achieve the dream of a college education Thursday evening.

Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) recognized students from across its service area at the 13th Annual Scholarship Reception at the Mayo Auditorium.

This year, through the Big Sandy College Educational Foundation and the generosity of many supporters and businesses, nearly $400,000 in scholarships were awarded to deserving students.

One of those students, 35-year-old Valerie Inzer, of Salyersville, Ky., received a standing ovation after sharing her story of how she overcame a drug addiction and is using college to pay it forward.

Ive had a lot of things taken away from me, said Inzer, a mother of two who plans to become a social worker and work with those struggling with substance abuse. She is the recipient of the AEP/Kentucky Power Scholarship. No one will be able to take away what I will earn here.

In 2005, Inzer had thought she had lost all hope until the terrifying news of her then-brother-in-laws death opened her eyes.

I had to take back control of my life. I watched two little boys no longer have a father, said Inzer, also a mother of two. It started with getting clean and getting an education.

For Clara Potter, attending BSCTC has allowed her to grow in an environment where she gets to know her faculty, and they are interested in her success.

Her path has not been easy. Born with Congenital heart disease, Potter had multiple surgeries as a child.

Shes happy and healthy today, serving as president of Phi Theta Kappa on the BSCTC campus and a member of the honors program.

I hope to use this scholarship to help complete my education here and continue it at the University of Kentucky, said Potter, a recipient of the Honors Program scholarship. Im ready to transfer with confidence.

Potter hopes to earn a degree in Biology.

Terry Skaggs, 41, returned to school this year after spending more than 15 years in the social services field. Hes already a college graduate, having earned a degree in Psychology, so going back to school to be a nurse led to many financial obstacles.

Hes not eligible for financial aid, because he already has obtained a bachelors degree, and times have not been easy.

I remember a time where I didnt have a dime, and I had enough food for just a few days, said Skaggs, who was awarded the Chris Fleming scholarship. People dont understand the struggles of non-traditional students.

Skaggs, a single father of two, said BSCTC has been a tremendous help in helping him pursue my dreams while being close to home.

Going back to school late in life is not easy. Im typically the oldest person in my class, and sometimes, Im older than my instructor, he said, laughing.

Skaggs advice to those contemplating a return to college later in life? Do it.

Theres a lot of people my age that are getting knocked down and have lost their jobs, he said. We dont stay down long. We get back up. Thats the way we were taught.

Bill Francis, a Floyd County attorney and board member of the Big Sandy College Educational Foundation, served as the keynote speaker for the reception. A member of the first graduating class of Prestonsburg Community College in 1966, Francis spent nine years in school, eventually earning a degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law without one single scholarship.

Scholarships are given to students who make good grades and want to make something of themselves, said Francis. It allows you to grow and to be productive members of society.

BSCTC President Dr. George D. Edwards said the donations from businesses and community members have paved the way for higher education to become attainable for so many students.

The stories shared by our students exemplifies the issues our students face here, he said. This institution means so much to the communities we serve.

Edwards ended his remarks by saying that hes worked at community colleges in several states, and the very best students are here.
Big Sandy Community and Technical College is celebrating milestone anniversaries, including 75 years of service on the Mayo campus, 50 years as the former Prestonsburg Community College and 10 years as the consolidated BSCTC.