PRESTONSBURG – Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College, addressed the SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) Executive Board during a meeting on the Prestonsburg campus on Monday.
Dr. Stephenson thanked Congressman Hal Rogers, Governor Steve Beshear, SOAR Executive Director Jared Arnett and the executive board for their vision in working towards a better Eastern Kentucky.
“We’re fulfilling the promise you have laid out through the development of the human capital of the region,” said Dr. Stephenson. “You are the visionaries, and we stand ready and willing to be on the frontlines as the doers, the difference makers, the pathfinders and the dreamcatchers.”
What is possible, Dr. Stephenson asked the Executive board?
“Anything,” he responded. “Through a spirit of teamwork, innovation and regionalism, SOAR and Eastern Kentucky will shine as a national best practice of rural economic development and diversification.”
BSCTC was the first college in the region to offer fiber optics training. Sanctioned by the Fiber Optics Association and facilitated by BDI DataLync, an internationally recognized leader in fiber technology, the college is attracting national attention for its course. Students from as far away as Texas, Ohio, Alabama and Virginia have enrolled.
Last week, BSCTC was awarded more than $2.2 million from the Economic Development Agency for the construction of the state’s first Broadband Technology Center. The $4.5 million facility will also be supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission and a Community Development Block Grant.
Dr. Stephenson also highlighted the college’s Fast-Track IT program, a partnership with the East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), which targets displaced workers. This program is unique because it offers a 12-week paid internship. Dr. Stephenson highlighted the college’s Early College Academies, which has an enrollment of over 100 students from Floyd County, Johnson County, Martin County, Paintsville Independent and Pike County school districts. Over the course of two years, 28 students have graduated high school with an associate degree. Those students have earned more than $2.5 million in scholarships.
Tate Greene, 17, was highlighted by Dr. Stephenson. A senior and kicker on the Prestonsburg High School football team, Greene scored a 31 on his ACT as a freshman. He’ll graduate in May with an associate in science degree.
In a tweet to Dr. Stephenson, Greene said “I’m thrilled to see how our college will help lead the revolution occurring in our region. The future is bright.”
Dr. Stephenson concluded his remarks by saying, “For us, it is about changing the region, one person, one opportunity, one possibility and one challenge at a time.”