Daniel Thacker

Hows this for a schedule? Class on Monday and Tuesday, clinicals on Wednesday and Thursday and work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. To make things more remarkable, clinicals and work are nearly three hours from home.

Daniel Thackers road to graduation has been one grounded in hard work and perseverance.

In May, Thacker, 22, of Pikeville, will graduate with an Associate in Art, Associate of Science and an Associate in Applied Science in Respiratory Care from Big Sandy Community and Technical College.

Every long night, every shift worked and every mile traveled has been well worth it, said Thacker. Im ready to begin my career.

Thacker attended the University of Kentucky for a year right out of high school before returning home. I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist, but it just wasnt for me, he said. I wanted to be close to home.

He enrolled at BSCTC to take his basic courses, or, at least, that was the initial plan. That changed nearly two years ago when he noticed a flyer on the Pikeville campus advertising a pre-admission conference for the schools Respiratory Therapy program.

Thackers uncle, Gary Slone, is a respiratory therapist, but he had never thought about entering the field. Part of his admissions criteria was to shadow someone in the field. He naturally shadowed his uncle.

I watched him provide a valuable service to people in need, Thacker recalled. I wanted to do that. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people struggling to breathe.

Juggling college and other responsibilities have been challenging for Thacker. For the last 11 months, he has worked three days a week (following two days of clinicals) as a respiratory tech at the University of Kentucky Hospital. For nine months, he also worked at a local department store, in addition to his job and clinicals at UK and class on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Mayo campus of BSCTC.

If you want something bad enough, you do whatever it takes to get it done, said Thacker.

Thacker said his colleagues at UK have been helpful. As a respiratory tech, he is able to apply what he is learning and work with experienced respiratory therapists.

Theres not a lot of time to sleep, but I have plenty of time to learn and apply what I am learning to my work and clinicals, he said, with a smile. This is where I want to be in life.

Missy Skeens, program coordinator of the respiratory therapy program at BSCTC, said students like Thacker inspire her every day.

The students we have here are remarkable, and they demonstrate an unwavering commitment to their studies and want to be successful, she said. I have no doubt Daniel will do remarkably well in his career.

Thacker said the one-on-one attention of BSCTC faculty members make a world of difference.

Their door is always open, and they are always willing to help and encourage you, he said. Because of them, I will graduate prepared to enter the field of respiratory therapy.

Thacker has already been offered employment at the University of Kentucky upon his graduation.

His future plans are to eventually work in Ohio.

Im a Reds fan, and I want to get close to Cincinnati, he said, chuckling.