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Stephanie Bunyard Balances Life, College, Stays Steadfast in Pursuit of MIT Degree

For the past few years, since 2009, Stephanie Bunyard, 35, of Flat Gap, has gone confidently in the direction of her dreams.

At age 32, after many moves-to Japan, Florida, Georgetown, KY, and elsewhere-Bunyard was back home and ready to carve out a new path for her and her daughters, Brittney, 14, and Alyssa, 5.

"I just knew I needed to have good life. I wanted to take care of myself and my daughters and be independent," Bunyard said. She enrolled at Big Sandy Community and Technical College, majoring in Medical Information Technology/MIT Administration Option.

"It's a field that's thriving, and there's always going to be a need for medical jobs," she said, "and I really like the computer aspect that comes with a career in medical billing and coding."

As a working mother, Bunyard said she had to find a way to "balance everything" and chose to take only two-three classes each semester, along with several summer classes, all of which took place at BSCTC's Mayo Campus or online.

Currently, she works at a law office in Painstville. She will complete an internship in Fall 2013 and graduate in December. She looks forward to crossing the graduation stage and having her daughters and family members in the audience to share in the celebration. "I think it's important that [my daughters] are there and see what all the studying and sacrifice have been about," she added.

"I try to look at the positive. So many things daily will try to pull you down. You have to hold your head up and have faith in yourself. You have to have this before anyone else can have faith in you," she said.

Bunyard has been impressed with the program and instructors. "I've really appreciated the teacher interaction. Any time I've had a concern and emailed, I've received a pretty prompt return."

For the past few years, Bunyard has served as a work study student, as part of the college's Ready-to-Work program, which serves KTAP (Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program) recipients. To enroll in the program, students must receive KTAP and be enrolled at a KCTCS institution. They receive mentoring, counseling, referrals, case management, etc. "Basically, the program offers wrap-around services to help students overcome barriers while they are enrolled in college," said Cassandra Crum-Stratton, Ready-to-Work coordinator.

Bunyard said she was grateful to Crum-Stratton: "She has been a blessing and has really helped me so much . . . she has put me around good people. She's great."

This admiration is reciprocated. Crum-Stratton says of Bunyard: "She is an excellent work-study, student, mother . . . She has impeccable character and has experienced the highs and lows of life with a positive outlook."

Bunyard's life has wound through many places. At 18, after graduating from Johnson Central High School, she married and moved with her husband, who was in the military, to Japan where they lived for four years. There her daughter, Brittney, was born. For a young woman from eastern Kentucky, it was quite a culture change. "It was so different, but Japan was awesome. People there were happy and always very respectful," she said. "It was quite an experience."

Later, Bunyard moved back to Johnson County, before leaving again. She lived in Georgetown, KY, where she worked for several years at Wal-Mart. Then, for five years, she lived near Daytona, Florida. In 2009 Bunyard moved back to Johnson County.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. For Stephanie Bunyard, the road has led home, and she has remained steadfast and determined for nearly three years in her pursuit of the life she wants for her and her daughters, and her future career is within grasp.