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Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College, met with Hal Heiner, secretary of the education and workforce development cabinet, on Monday, June 27 at his Frankfort office.

Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC), met with Hal Heiner, secretary of the education and workforce development cabinet at his Frankfort office on Monday, June 28.

I appreciate Secretary Heiner taking time out of his schedule to meet with me, said Dr. Stephenson. Secretary Heiner is committed to bringing opportunities to Kentucky and he is strongly committed to the transformation of Eastern Kentuckys economy. We look forward to working with the cabinet on many initiatives going forward.

Dr. Stephenson shared BSCTCs story of transformation over the past year, including a sweeping administrative reorganization and strategic planning effort.

It is important for the Secretary to know that our programs are relevant to business and industry and that we are committed to assisting students find gainful employment beyond graduation, Dr. Stephenson added. What inspires our work each day is the ability we have to transform our region one student, one opportunity at a time.

Earlier this year, BSCTC was approved to start a Broadband Technology associate degree program, the first in Kentucky and just the third program of its kind in the United States. BSCTC was also the first college in Kentucky to launch a Fiber Optics Association (FOA) sanctioned Fiber Optics training program. Later this year, BSCTC will break ground on a $4.5 million Advanced Technology Center, the first fiber-to-the-desk facility in the state, to house the aforementioned programs.

The Advanced Technology Center will give us the capacity to explore programming in areas such as unmanned aircraft and cyber security, said Dr. Stephenson. As the economy changes, so does our planning and our programming. Its important that we remain on the bleeding edge in regard to program offerings and equipment and that is one reason we are seriously developing plans for future work around the areas of advanced manufacturing, telemedicine, and digital technology.

Dr. Stephenson also shared the recent developments of the TechHire East Kentucky program. This collaboration between BSCTC, the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) and Interapt will allow 50 students to go through 20 weeks of paid training as computer coders and those who successfully complete the program will earn positions with Interapt.

I wanted Secretary Heiner to know that there are a lot of dedicated people working on the frontlines of transformation each day in Eastern Kentucky, said Dr. Stephenson. I also expressed my sincere appreciation for the leadership and innovation displayed by EKCEP and their partners. We have a very responsive workforce investment board that is always willing to partner with our college on programs.