Dr. Devin Stephenson speaks to the Martin County Kiwanis Club Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC), was the keynote speaker for the Martin County Kiwanis Club meeting on Thursday, July 16 at Miss Idas Tea Room.

Dr. Stephenson spoke of the strong bond between BSCTC and Martin County Schools. In August, the college and school district will launch the Martin County Early College Academy on the Mayo campus. Ten Sheldon Clark High School students will make up the inaugural class. Students will take college courses during their junior and senior years and have the opportunity to graduate high school with an associate degree.

Its about opportunities and making sure that those who want a higher education have access to a higher education, said Dr. Stephenson. We are very appreciative to the Martin County School District and we hope to build on our relationship to bring more opportunities to the students of the district.

Since 2008, BSCTC has served more than 21,000 first-generation college students. Dr. Stephenson asked the audience to put that into perspective.

Just imagine if we werent here? he asked. Dr. Stephenson went on to congratulate those in attendance for Martin County earning its Work Ready Community status. Thats an important piece to the puzzle.

Dr. Stephenson, a member of the board of directors of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, encouraged those in attendance to help the college and its students explore a passion for the possible.

If not now, when? he asked. If not us, who?

BSCTC recently announced a collaboration with the University of Pikeville (UPIKE) on a Telecommunications Installation and Maintenance Training program. This effort is designed to correlate with the construction of the Kentucky Information Highway (I-Highway).

When we work together, we can accomplish so much more, he said. UPIKE will provide housing for students completing the program. Stackable credentials will allow students to earn three certifications Certified Fiber Optics Technician, Certified Fiber Optics Specialist and Certified Fiber Optic Splicing Specialist and work towards an associate degree. The college and UPIKE are discussing ways to provide a seamless transfer to a baccalaureate degree in telecommunications. The certifications will be sanctioned by the Fiber-Optics Association (FOA).

Stephenson also highlighted the colleges two expansion projects on its Pikeville campus. One will be a 60,000 square-foot building and parking garage. The other is the construction of the Center for Excellence in Telecommunications Installation and Maintenance Training.

We want to be responsive to the needs of our students, business and industry, said Dr. Stephenson. We need your help as we embark on this journey to become a premier and comprehensive community and technical college.