I served as Administrative Assistant and Bookstore Manager at the College from 1964 until retirement in 1996. The changes that have taken place at the College are astounding. When I began at the College, it was named the Western Trade School, located on the property that is now Western Kentucky University. I began as a secretary with the Manpower Development Training Act (MDTA), a program to help the economically disadvantaged students attain an education and then go to work. I was at the school when MDTA and CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) Centers were opened on High Street and Third Street. While I was here, the area technology centers in Barren, Russellville, and Monroe Counties were combined with the College under a regional office structure, and the College was renamed the Bowling Green Regional Technology Center in 1994. During that time, we had hundreds of Warren, Butler, and Edmonson County high school students attending a half day here, and then returning to their high school for the other half of the day. Most of these students were involved in the Vocational and Industrial Clubs of America (VICA) and would compete each year in technical competitions. I also remember the College’s Truck Driving Center and the opening of the Kentucky Advanced Technology Institute. Through all the changes the College has gone through, one constant was the dedication and commitment of the faculty and staff. I remember great leaders and instructors, like Phillip Hampton, and other faculty and staff, who invested their lives and expertise to see students succeed.
I started out as part-time, adjunct faculty at the Glasgow Health Campus on September 18, 1979. I was assigned to teach EMT, CPR and First Aid, Anatomy & Physiology, Medical Math, Nurse Aide, and occasional nursing class lectures. I became full-time faculty on October 28, 1996, teaching as LPN faculty. The most memorable achievement I have witnessed while working here was our campus being approved to offer the RN program; it is still the highlight of my career.
Watching SKYCTC transform from a technical trade school, to the consolidation of all campuses and becoming a comprehensive community and technical college, has been a memorable achievement to be a part of. This transformation is a true reflection of our dedication to providing opportunities. We offer opportunities to people who would not necessarily go on to a traditional university. We provide a very inexpensive and easily assessable choice for career education so students can enter the workforce and make a better living for themselves, and their families.
This college has meant more to me and my family than I could ever describe. It has had an impact on the lives of my entire family: my wife, Jolene, graduated from here in 1977, as a LPN; I graduated in 1978, as a LPN; my brother graduated in 1983, as a LPN; my son, James, graduated in 2006 as a LPN, and then again in 2009, as an RN (the first RN graduate class); and my son, Jonathan, graduated here in 2011, as an RN. My eldest daughter teaches at SKYCTC, and has for the past 10 years.
As you can see, the college has been very valuable to me and my family; it has provided us opportunities for rewarding careers and has opened many doors. We have all gone on to earn doctoral degrees, and/or become KY Board of Nursing members, Presidents; Faculty members, Deans, etc. What more of an impact could one ask for?
In 1962, I came to work in the auto mechanic department when the College was still located where Dero Downing Student Center is now on WKU’s campus. After the College moved to its current location, I worked in transmission and diesel. There were only a few buildings here when we first moved. One of the smartest decisions the College ever made was to buy adjacent land as it became available. Money was very tight back in the beginning. After the village was empty, we needed to relocate the metal buildings up the hill to be used for classes. We moved them by having the students get inside and lift the buildings and walk a little bit, set the building down to rest, then pick it up and go a little further. I think there were three of those buildings offering several classes, including drafting and office machine. When we needed a bigger area to work, we had to take it upon ourselves to add on by making our own I-beams and pouring our own concrete. Faculty, staff, and students worked hard to get the job done.
I feel the biggest achievement for the College was when we became accredited. Accreditation is recognized everywhere, and it really helps showcase the great things that the College has to offer. The college has provided opportunities to those who may feel that they have none. Everyone has a place, sometimes you just have to find where you belong. Over the years, I had great classes and great students; many of them were veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. There was one boy who was sent to me from Warren Central, and he was given a two-week trial. He found his place in my class, and now he has his own business. I still see him regularly, and he once told me I had done a lot for him – that I gave him a chance. That makes it all worth the effort.
I began working at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College in 1986, when it was still known as Bowling Green Regional Technology Center. Back then, students could enroll every Monday and classes met from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This was an intensive schedule that left little time for work.
Nowadays, new students enroll every semester and have many opportunities to have a flexible schedule.
A prominent memory of mine was of a student who had been sent through the correctional system as a felon before he came here. He asked me how he would ever get a job if employers did a background check. I suggested that he needed to keep trying and apply at smaller companies that might be more willing to give him a chance. Two years later, he called to tell me that he had been with the same company since day one, and was now working as the lead service tech. He also shared that he had turned his life around, fallen in love, gotten married, bought a home, and was completely loving his life.
SKYCTC changes lives – for our students and for the faculty and staff. I was able to finish my degree while teaching, and I would not have been able to otherwise. It has also been great watching the college stay updated with technology, and expanding to offer more opportunities for more students.