DIFFERENT JOURNEYS LEAD TO ONE DESTINATION GRADUATIONGraduation day is a special time for students. As they cross the stage to take a ceremonial photo with the college president and a diploma cover, many thoughts cross their mind.
That was the case of Joseph Allen, 25, of Hi Hat. Allen graduated with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice with a law enforcement certificate on Friday, May 8.
His journey to graduation day was something that seemed to be impossible just a few years ago. He first attended Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) in 2008.
It didnt work out, Allen admits, because I was hanging around the wrong people and not going to class.
He added: Im thankful we live in a world of second chances.
With a new perspective, Allen returned to school and found his passion the colleges criminal justice program.
If I can do it, anyone can, Allen continued. Im proud because this is something no one can take away from me.
For Nicki Ratliff Blevins, of Paintsville, she returned to college after earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in 2011. She graduated with an Associate in Arts degree to prove to her four children that education is a valuable tool to build a bright future.
Blevins daughter, Kenzie McCall, was in the crowd. Shell participate in the Johnson County/Paintsville Early College Academy this fall.
Im proud of my accomplishments, and I am more proud that my children and my husband are sharing this with me, she said. Blevins juggled a lot more than classes. During this stint, she also took care of her parents in addition to her children. It wasnt easy, but it was worth it.
Tammy Wyatt, who is originally from Detroit, Mich., earned her Associate in Applied Science degree in criminal justice. After 25 years, she returned to school.
It was scary, said Wyatt, a mother of four. She earned her GED before starting at BSCTC. My son looked at me one day and said, Live your dreams and take risks because life is happening now.
Wyatt took that advice and plans to attend Eastern Kentucky University, where she will work towards a bachelors degree in criminal justice.
She also has other reasons to celebrate. Her daughter will earn her undergraduate degree next week and has been accepted to law school. She also has two sons in the U.S. Army.
Tammy Hall, of Hi Hat, earned an Associate in Science and Associate in Arts degree and plans to become a dental hygienist. She started college in 1995, but put it on the backburner to start a family.
She decided to return to school and finish her degree to mentor her two children, who are honors students in the Floyd County School District.
I wanted her to know that its never too late to accomplish anything, said Hall, who is the first of her five siblings to graduate college.
Graduation day was extra special for Hall for another reason. She had become ill several years ago and lost her ability to speak and walk. Through the support of her family, she was able to recover.
I am blessed to be here, and I want to help others and give back, she said.
On Saturday, May 9, BSCTC held a commencement and pinning ceremony for its Associate Degree Nursing, License Practical Nurse and Dental Hygiene/Assisting program.
Nicholas Hall, of Grethel, graduated the Associate Degree Nursing program. He said despite it being one of the most stressful times in his life, hes glad he did it and earned his degree.
This shows my kids that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible, he said.
Glenn William Belcher, of Phelps, a graduate of the Associate Degree Nursing Program, added: This will pay off and is a stepping stone to something bigger and better.