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Three Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) students have been selected to a prestigious leadership program representing 45 counties in the Appalachian region of Kentucky.

Ben Hamilton II, Dimitri Bien-Aime and Georgetta Preece were selected to the first-ever Our VoicesOur Vision Student Congress by Forward in the Fifth earlier this month. The student leadership initiative is designed to introduce, discuss and synthesize ideas from college students in southern and eastern Kentucky about the advancement of educational progress and growth. Members of the Student Congress will facilitate conversations with peers, faculty and community leaders on relevant educational issues which will impact personal and regional progress.

Our higher education system must continue providing innovative approaches and support to best meet future demands while minimizing obstacles faced by individuals or collectively as a region, said Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth. Our Voices Our Vision Student Congress presents a means for students to offer valuable input to those who are responsible for ensuring the postsecondary experience is achieving appropriate outcomes.

Congressman Hal Rogers said the Student Congress provides a unique opportunity for students to share successes and challenges at the college level.

Their insights have the potential to impact future development of local and regional programs and policies. Forward in the Fifth plans to highlight successful practices at our institutions of higher education, while offering innovative ideas for current and future generations, he said.

Hamilton II, of Johnson County, said the leadership program will allow him to better understand the education system and its impact on students, the economy and quality of life for the people of eastern Kentucky.

I am excited about the exchange of ideas with my peers from other institutions on the many issues facing college students today, he said. Identifying such areas is crucial for the improvement of my own education and for future generations of students.

Bien-Aime is from Floyd County and Preece is from Martin County.

Members of the Student Congress will assist in the selection of a relevant education topic and forum structure to gather feedback about the selected topic on each participating college campus.