FRANKFORT – Big things are happening at Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC), and lawmakers and constitutional office holders got a glimpse of why the college is the first choice for higher education in eastern Kentucky during a Showcase Day held at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 22.
“We want our legislators and constitutional office holders to know we are not talking, we are doing,” said BSCTC President Dr. Devin Stephenson. “Our institution is working collaboratively with partners to create new and relevant programs, expand capacity and transform our region one student, one opportunity at a time.”
Dr. Stephenson met with the entire legislative delegation from the Big Sandy region (Senate Minority Floor Leader Ray S. Jones, Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, Sen. Brandon Smith, Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, Rep. Hubert Collins, Rep. Chris Harris, Rep. John Short and Rep. Leslie Combs).
“Our legislators understand and value the importance of higher education and workforce training in eastern Kentucky,” said Dr. Stephenson. “In order to attract quality companies to invest in the region, we must have a highly-skilled workforce and a community and technical college that is responsive, proactive and ready to move at the speed of business.”
Allison Ball, a Floyd County native and Kentucky State Treasurer, visited the showcase, as well as House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Rocky Adkins, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer.
It has been a banner year for BSCTC. Last year, the college started the first Fiber Optics Association-sanctioned (FOA) training in eastern Kentucky. The class has attracted students from nine states. Later this year, BSCTC will break ground on the state’s first Advanced Technology Center on its Pikeville campus. The $4.5 million project was paid for by a $2.3 grant from the Economic Development Agency (EDA; $500,000 from the Appalachian Region Commission; $500,000 Community Development Block Grant; and $1.2 million from the college.
“This facility will provide the capacity for us to build on our Fiber Optics training and create new programs in areas such as broadband technology,” said Dr. Stephenson. Earlier this month, the Kentucky Community and Technical College (KCTCS) Board of Regents approved a new Broadband Technology program for the college. It is awaiting approval from SACSCOC, the college’s accrediting body.
Students from the BSCTC SkillsUSA chapter, as well as students from Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), Honors and Allied Health programs were also on hand for the event. Gregory Castle, Louie Jude and Michael Preston represented SkillsUSA. Castle is the college chapter president. Faculty member Charles Vanhoose joined them.
Sara Craft, Hannah Dials and Conley Ross, all second-year associate degree nursing program students, were also on hand and provided free glucose and blood pressure checks. Faculty member Nicole Burchett joined them.
Austin Curnutte, Kaitlyn Campbell, Jordan Carroll, Olivia Colvin, Aaron Curnutte, Joshua Mullins and Olivia Slone joined PTK Advisor Dr. Kathryn Miller at the event. Jerica Grimm, a student representative on the BSCTC board of directors, was also in attendance.
Representatives from Workforce Solutions and the East Kentucky Science Center and Varia Planetarium were also on hand.
Students were recognized in the House and Senate for their contributions to higher education in eastern Kentucky.