Hal Heiner, secretary of the education and workforce development cabinet, met with students on the Mayo campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College on Friday, February 26.

Before a visit with Hal Heiner on Friday, February 26, a group of Civil Engineering Technology students and recent graduates assembled in a room.

Aaron McCown, a 24-year-old from Garrett, Ky., wrote a simple statement on a dry-erase board.

Confirmation it works, he wrote.

Heiner, the secretary of the education and workforce development cabinet, saw that first hand as he toured the Mayo campus and met with students during his visit.

I wouldnt be where I am today if it wasnt for this college, McCown told Heiner.
McCown graduated in 2012 with an Associate of Applied Science in Civil Engineering Technology. Hell graduate with an Associate in Science degree in May and has been accepted to the University of Kentuckys pre-engineering program.

He stressed the importance of community and technical colleged training the workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

I want to live, work and retire here, said McCown. This is our future and we have to pursue it.

Heiner met with two current students taking advantage of a scholarship through the Kentucky Department of Transportation. Tanner Johnson, 18, of Virgie, and Hunter Hall, 19, of Hager Hill, said meeting with Heiner was an honor.

He seemed to want to listen to our concerns, said Johnson.

Garrett Henry, 24, of Louisa, is a senior drafter for EN Engineering. He said BSCTC presented a window of opportunity that otherwise would not have existed.

I didnt know what I wanted to study when I graduated high school, he recalled. I remember reaching out to Mrs. [Gail] Cooley, and we talked about what I was interested in and she recommended that I take a look at the Civil Engineering Technology program.

The program has opened many doors for Henry, who has worked on projects all across North America.

Because of my education, I am doing things I always dreamed that I would do, he said. I am so grateful for Big Sandy and the people who helped me along the way.

Heiner also met Ricky Wells, 48, of Hager Hill, who returned to school after working in the coal industry and owning his own business.

I was so scared to come back to school, but it was the best decision I have ever made, said Wells, who is in his second semester at BSCTC.

Heiner toured the welding lab on the Mayo campus, which recently completed a $1.5 renovation that included 24 new state-of-the-art work stations and a new ventilation system.

We are grateful that Secretary Heiner toured our facilities, but we are more grateful that he got to hear the stories of our graduates and students, and see the impact we have made on their lives, said Kelli Hall, interim dean of career education and workforce development. It is always and it always will be about the students.