Kala Tackett, center, was all smiles with her parents Darrell and Terry Lynn following BSCTCs Winter Commencement on December 13 in Paintsville. Kala Tacketts journey to becoming a college graduate was unconventional.

Tackett, 31, started taking classes at Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) in 2005 and had to put her studies aside after battling medical complications in her pregnancy.

She thought about returning to school. I was always taught to complete things, and it was always in the back of mind, she said. It was something personal that I wanted to do for myself and my family.

In August, her curiosity peaked and she visited the Pikeville campus of BSCTC. After all, she had put in two years of college coursework.

I knew I was close, but I had no clue I was that close, Tackett said. With the help of Jane Pixley, a professor of psychology, she did a quick degree audit to find Tackett was just one class short of her Associate of Science degree.

That class was Statistics, but the biggest equation at the time was how she was going to juggle a class, which happened to be in the afternoon, with work. Tackett works at Community Trust Bank.

When the bank found out about this and how important it was to me personally, they worked with me and I was allowed to take my class, she said. Im so grateful that they shared in my desire of me completing my degree.

The worries of reentering college after a six-year break was a little daunting at first. You look around and see where you were at just a few years ago, she said. The college experience was great. They are truly interested in your success at Big Sandy.

Kala kept her degree completion from her biggest fans, her parents Darrell and Terry Lynn. I announced it to them on Thanksgiving in front of many family members, she said. My parents have been through so much with me, and I share this with them.

She also shares it with her son, Hunter Phillips, who was in attendance Friday as Tackett and her classmates participated in BSCTCs Winter Commencement on the Mayo campus.

Who knows what the future holds, but I know I have a better future because I am a college graduate, she said.