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Justin Prater

Like many college students, Justin Prater thought he knew what he wanted to do with his career.

College validated it.

Prater, 24, of Pikeville, serves as the assistant director of the Pikeville office of the Kentucky Innovation Network. He graduated from Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) in 2010 with an Associate in Arts degree and went on to complete his Bachelors degree in Business Administration from the University of Pikeville in 2013. At UPike, Prater was the recipient of the Coleman College of Business Management award (2014) and the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Collegiate Concept Challenge winner (2013).

In 2009, an assignment by BSCTC Professor Paula Thompson put Prater on the path to pursue a degree in business. He was asked to take a stance an opposite one to his belief on global warming.

I started looking at the economics of the issue and the processes around it, and I was hooked, said Prater. Ms. Thompson opened the world of business and economics to me, and I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.

Prater said BSCTC offered an affordable and quality route to pursuing a college education.

By attending Big Sandy, I essentially cut my student loan in half, he said. It allowed me to get my basics, at an affordable price, and I was close to home.

A 2008 graduate of Pike County Central High School, Prater was among the top of his class and earned a scholarship to BSCTC, but he admits he has a little reluctant to take the plunge into college.

I just wasnt sure if I would be a good fit in college, he said. My time at Big Sandy allowed me to gain confidence that I could not only attend college, but also continue my education.

Prater is currently pursuing his MBA from the University of Pikeville. His responsibilities at the Kentucky Innovation Network involves managing day-to-day operations, conducting workshops and working with new and existing businesses to connect them to opportunities.

To learn more about the Kentucky Innovation Network, contact Prater at (606) 218-5053.