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Akakpo: BCTC creating better lives in our community

As we discuss budgets and goals, review accomplishments and meet with our governor and legislators, it is clear that higher education matters to Central Kentucky and to our state as a whole.

Emsi, a national higher ed research firm, conducted a study in 2019 that determined Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s (BCTC) total annual economic impact on Central Kentucky is $419M in added income and 6,516 in supported jobs. These figures are significant, but our true value is in changing lives and communities.

At BCTC, we are privileged to provide education that expands and strengthens our workforce and empowers students to step into better lives. Let me share a few examples.

Entrepreneur Matt Kondik started at a university out of high school but left and came to BCTC to achieve his dream to become a business owner. He now operates a successful HVAC company in Danville.

Business leader Terri Jones earned an associate degree in computer science and is now a vice president at Central Bank. She also owns Scout & Molly Boutique in Lexington and serves on our BCTC Foundation Board.

Veteran Tim Leshney served in Iraq, returned home and was accepted into the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program where he not only earned his degree debt-free, but was paid to work at Toyota while in school. He is a proud Toyota team member today.

These students, like the 2,200 BCTC graduates who earned over 4300 credentials in 2019, know higher education matters. Community colleges offer students the opportunity to earn a college education for significantly less. In many cases, they enter the workforce debt-free.

The number of high school students in Central Kentucky who take dual-credit courses that allow them to complete some or all of their first two years of college at BCTC while in high school has increased by 24 percent this year.

Katherine Delgado, a first-generation college student, is one of those students who earned an Associate in Science degree in May 2019, and a few weeks later received her high school diploma.

According to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), dual credit is linked to higher student GPA’s and positive impact for minority, low income and academically unprepared students.

Regardless of when they come to BCTC, we meet students where they are. Skills U programs at our campuses offer college and GED preparation and testing for students like Michelle Lunsford, a mom who worked in the fast food industry for over 17 years. She came to BCTC, completed her GED and earned a Data Entry Operator certificate within four months. Today, she is the BCTC Lawrenceburg Campus assistant.

We are committed to raising educational attainment in the community, expanding access to career options and placing graduates in the workforce at a faster rate. However, not all BCTC classes take place on campus.

For example, Kentucky law enforcement recruits take college courses while in the Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOCJT) program through the BCTC/DOCJT partnership, Educating Heroes. Last month, two law enforcement officers graduated basic training and earned an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree.

Additionally, BCTC Workforce Solutions trains and educates employees in their workplaces, such as Webasto, helping them advance their careers and productivity. In 2019, 43 Webasto employees earned Enhanced Operator certificates, creating a skilled workforce pipeline within the company.

It is up to all of us to tell these BCTC stories. How were you changed by a community college education? Who do you know whose life was transformed? Why do you believe in what we do?

I encourage you to answer these questions. Share the answers with those you influence daily, contact your legislator and submit your WHY on the BCTC website.

Together, we can create Better Lives: one student, one employer, one community at a time.

Dr. Koffi C. Akakpo is president and CEO of Bluegrass Community and Technical College.