PRESTONSBURG – Graduating from college is an event many individual hope to accomplish. In today’s workforce, a high school diploma no longer holds the same value as it did a mere 10 years ago. In order to compete for jobs in today’s workforce, individuals need to have a minimum of an associate degree from college. Today’s high school seniors are starting to take college classes to get a jump start on their peers. This weekend was an exciting time for many area individuals as they participated in Big Sandy Community and Technical College Commencement activities.
Keynote speakers for BSCTC commencement exercises were Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Jared Arnett, Executive Director of SOAR.
“Graduating from college is something I always knew I was going to do. I wanted to go into a field where I could help others, make a good living, and know that I could find a job in Eastern Kentucky,” said Della Damron, of Pikeville. “Graduating with my husband was just an added bonus. We both are equipped with the tools to create a good life for ourselves.”
Also among Saturday’s graduates was Michael Preston. In 2014, Preston became a statistic. Like thousands of others across Eastern Kentucky, Preston, 38, of Stanville, lost his job as a drill operator at a local coal mine. A 16-year coal mine veteran, Preston was nervous about what the future held. Not working was not an option.
“When the coal jobs left, I felt hopeless,” said Preston. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Thanks to a group of people he met at the Kentucky Career Center, Preston learned about H.O.M.E. (Hiring Our Miners Every day). Through the program, Preston was able to return to school. Months after being laid off he enrolled in classes at BSCTC to pursue a career in electrical technology.
Fast Forward to two years later, Preston is waiting his turn to walk across the stage at the Mountain Arts Center with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Technology.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She Can be reached at (606) 886-8506.