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Last updated: January 16. 2014 1:29PM - 424 Views

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Forward in the Fifth has announced members of the first-ever Our Voices…Our Vision Student Congress representing 45 counties in the Appalachian region of Kentucky. This student leadership initiative is designed to introduce, discuss and synthesize ideas from college students in Southern and Eastern Kentucky about the advancement of educational progress and growth. Members of the Student Congress will facilitate conversations with peers, faculty and community leaders on relevant educational issues which will impact personal and regional progress.


“Our higher education system must continue providing innovative approaches and support to best meet future demands while minimizing obstacles faced by individuals or collectively as a region,” said Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth. “Our Voices… Our Vision Student Congress presents a means for students to offer valuable input to those who are responsible for ensuring the postsecondary experience is achieving appropriate outcomes.”


“The Student Congress provides a unique opportunity for students to share successes and challenges at the college level,” said Congressman Hal Rogers. “Their insights have the potential to impact future development of local and regional programs and policies. Forward in the Fifth plans to highlight successful practices at our institutions of higher education, while offering innovative ideas for current and future generations.”


Members of the Student Congress were selected in December, with 20 students from eight colleges and universities represented in the inaugural program. Fifteen different counties will be represented by the Student Congress members who bring a varied background of majors, interests, educational experiences and ages to the leadership opportunity.


“Raising awareness of college and career readiness with students, parents and teachers is a must in order for our region to grow and our economy to thrive,” said Chelsea Hays, Student Congress Member from Breathitt County and attending Hazard Community & Technical College.


Ben Hamilton, II from Johnson County, also a member of the Student Congress, is excited about the opportunity to shape the future adding, “I am excited about the exchange of ideas with my peers from other institutions on the many issues facing college students today. Identifying such areas is crucial for the improvement of my own education and for future generations of students.” Hamilton is attending Big Sandy Community & Technical School.


Below are the schools and individuals represented in the Student Congress:


Big Sandy Community & Technical College

Demitri Bien-Aime, Floyd County


Ben Hamilton II, Johnson County


Georgetta Preece, Martin County


Hazard Community & Technical College

Chelsea Hays, Breathitt County


Alicia Baker, Perry County


Lindsey Wilson College

Chelsea King, Cumberland County


Wendy Price, Madison County


Somerset Community College

Kristy Hyden, Floyd County


Courtney Carpenter, Lincoln County


Sasha Zaring, Pulaski County


Southeast KY Community & Technical College

Lynn Holland II, Bell County


Karissa Brock, Bell County


Anna Creech, Harlan County


Union College

Richie Mathes, Whitley County


University of Pikeville

Lauren Gregory, Clay County


Haley Johnson, Lawrence County, Ohio


Nathan Little, Pike County


University of the Cumberlands

Zac Kemp, Clay County


Matthew Kelley, Whitley County


Emily Rose, Whitley County


Training for Student Congress members will occur in January. Afterwards, members will assist in the selection of a relevant education topic and forum structure to gather feedback about the selected topic on each participating college campus. Following the forums, members will submit a regional report to Forward in the Fifth. At the conclusion of the 2013-2014 academic year, Forward in the Fifth will provide a presentation and final report to key decision makers on campuses and represented communities.


For more information about the Our Voice…Our Vision Student Congress, contact Forward in the Fifth at 606-677-6000 or fif@centertech.com.


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