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WKCTC Graduate Setting Example for His Daughter

Transferring to MSU to Continue His New Path in Life

Eddie TeagueFor the past few years there have been growing questions as to if Major League Baseball is still America’s national pastime. But for Eddie Teague, a recent graduate of West Kentucky Community and Technical College, baseball still holds it’s favorite pastime title. Since he was a young boy, Teague dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player, but he said God had different plans for him.

Taking his new path in stride, Teague has worked to build a solid educational foundation at WKCTC so he can transfer to Murray State University this fall to continue to follow his new dream of becoming a physical therapist. Most important to him, Teague is proud his accomplishments are setting a positive example for his young daughter, Aaliyah.

When Teague graduated from WKCTC in May 2015 – the first in his family to go to college – he earned associate in arts and associate in science degrees. And he made sure Aaliyah was there to see him. “It was important to share my graduation day experience with her. Whenever she gets older, it will mean a lot for her to see our pictures and know we’ve always had a close bond together,” said the 24-year-old Paducah resident. “And I know when Aaliyah is ready to go to college, she won’t have an excuse not to graduate too.”

Transferring to Murray State University in fall 2015, Teague will pursue a bachelor’s degree in exercise science/pre-heath professional track with plans to continue his education to be able help people through physical therapy. “I feel like I have a really strong foundation set forth in pursuing both because of the work ethic I've been able to develop from my time spent at WKCTC.”

But Teague wasn’t always confident in himself. He graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School in 2010 and began a long educational journey. “I know personally that classrooms have never been my strong suit. From elementary on up through high school I've always found it difficult to learn the information that was being asked, much less retain it.”

After graduating from high school, Teague started taking classes at WKCTC, but because attending a community college was not what he originally wanted to do, his focus was not on his studies. He transferred to Mid-Continent University and the University of Kentucky, followed by a move to a college in Denver, Colo., to pursue his first dream of playing baseball. But he said family and God brought him back to Paducah and WKCTC to pursue a new dream of helping people as a physical therapist.

“I came back to WKCTC because of the convenience, but I knew my chances of furthering my education would be best spent here because I’ve learned from personal experience that attending a community college is best when first starting your collegiate journey.”

Teague participated in the Trio Student Support Services during his time at WKCTC, and although he was not sure what to expect at first, he said it helped him become the student he’s always wanted to be. “I’ve never experienced any kind of tutoring like I did at Trio. The faculty and staff supported and encouraged me to succeed more than any place I’d ever been before.”

Through Trio and many different strategies he was able to pick up along the way, Teague said he’s learned how to be successful in the classroom. “I’ve had a rough and bumpy journey, with the odds clearly not in my favor to succeed, but I've done so, and I owe a lot of thanks to the faculty and staff at WKCTC for all the encouragement. I can now say in confidence that I'm a great student.”

As he completes each stage in his education, Teague said he will continue to make sure Aaliyah is there with him to see it. “If she sees that I did it, she will know she can do it too.”

Meet More Amazing WKCTC Students and Alumni:

Favorite StarTracey Dismore - Building Confidence

Tracey Dismore was worried and intimidated about college when she began taking classes at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in spring 2011. Since then Dismore has chosen to become an active part of campus and make a conscious effort to build her self-confidence. That determination is paying off. She is flourishing on campus, and it shows, with her latest achievement of being selected as the WKCTC February Student of the Month.

“I had no idea I had been nominated for such an award. When I first found out, I was ecstatic; nothing like this has ever happened to me before, “ said 22 year-old Dismore, a Livingston County resident. “It makes me happy to know that everything I am doing is appreciated.”

Currently working as a student worker in WKCTC’s Trio Student Services, Dismore also serves as a student ambassador and is an active member the college’s mentoring and diversity and inclusion programs as well as the multicultural awareness club and the Exit 7 writing club. In addition, she volunteers for WKCTC Arts in Focus Series events and assists with basic computer classes for Senior Learners for Fun program.

Dismore, a differently-abled student, was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school and earned her GED in fall 2010. When she went through the doors of WKCTC for the first time, Dismore said she was scared she would do something wrong or would not be able to get around campus. “I felt very scared of failing...and I didn't know how much my wheelchair would exclude me from others, but I feel very different today.” She credits the college’s faculty and staff with helping her become a successful student. “....There are so many that would never just let me fail. They have all played a huge role in helping me out and building my self-confidence as far as knowing I can graduate and be like every one else. I feel confident, worthy and able to achieve my goals now.”

This May Dismore will graduate with an associate in arts degree and plans to transfer to pursue a bachelor’s degree to become a psychologist with a minor in English. “I hope to help young adults with depression for a time and then go ahead and specialize in human sexuality one day,” said Dismore. “I also want to do some work in writing columns about controversial topics associated with human sexuality in young adults and how to avoid these topics can lead to depression. I have been so blessed, and I, in return, want to make others feel that way as well.”

WKCTC Trio Director Gail Bachuss said Dismore’s transformation into a confident, strong student is remarkable. “I have witnessed Tracey’s strong identity with this college, her pride in representing this college, and her love of being a WKCTC student,” said Bachuss. “Tracey represents our college with her winning smile and new-found poise, but also with the story of a young woman persevering to reach her dream, “ said Bachuss. “She is an active example of student success, a student who has been nurtured and provided opportunities at WKCTC to pursue her dream. I believe Tracey Dismore is what WKCTC is all about!”

The Student of the Month program is designed to recognize the accomplishments of students on campus. Individuals selected must be currently enrolled at WKCTC and have maintained a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher and are nominated on the basis of exceptional performance, personal attributes, academic excellence and active participation in various student organizational activities.

Student of the Month recipients receive $100, a certificate of excellence, recognition on the WKCTC Facebook page, campus announcements and Web site. Recipients are also recognized by Pepsi MidAmerica and receive one free month's supply of their favorite Pepsi product.

Favorite StarDanielle Duncan – A Change in Direction

Danielle DuncanDanielle Duncan, 26, of Marion surprised herself when she made the decision to try college after a friend told her how much she loved WKCTC. "I had never considered going to college until that day."

A Crittenden County resident, Duncan had worked for years in her family’s automotive repair business. "Running my family business is wonderful; I didn't even know I wanted to do something new until I came to WKCTC,” Duncan said “That changed things for me."

Duncan enrolled with idea of becoming a nurse. "My mom and grandmother are nurses and I thought that's what I wanted to do too." But after a few psychology and criminal justice classes, Duncan discovered her true passion. "Everything fell into place for me, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” she said.

Studying to be a clinical psychologist with hopes to work with mental health patients in the prison system, Duncan will graduate with an Associate in Arts degree in spring 2015 and plans to transfer to Murray State University next fall to pursue a bachelor's degree.

Favorite StarMike McElrath – A Great Preparation for the Next Step

Mike McElrathThe terrorist attacks of 9/11 affected Americans in many different ways. For then 25-year-old Paducah native Mike McElrath the devastation of that event as well as other natural disasters convinced him to pursue a career in security and emergency management.

When McElrath enrolled at WKCTC, the College’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management was in its infancy.  He knew he wanted to transfer to the New Orleans-based Tulane University, which has one of the top programs in the nation for homeland security and emergency management. 

“I think everyone should have a solid foundation of basics when they pursue a four-year degree and community colleges fill that role,” McElrath said. “I'm proud of the recognition that WKCTC is getting and proud to say I'm an alum … Never mind the fact that a lot of my credits transferred and gave me a head start; just the foundational knowledge I learned from Mr. (Gary) Reese, and the others in the WKCTC program was indispensable.”

WKCTC's commitment to success is evident, not just in the glittering new buildings on campus, but in the faculty that bring their expertise and experience to the classrooms. Each of my professors was an active professional in their field, many with years of experience."

In Spring 2010, McElrath graduated with a certificate in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from WKCTC. A few months later, he moved to New Orleans, where he worked at FedEx full-time while also studying full-time at Tulane University. After moving to New Orleans, he married the former Angie McCune, a Lone Oak native, who also began her higher education at Paducah’s community college.

In May 2014, his wife, parents, three brothers and two sisters watched as he walked across the stage in the New Orleans Superdome – the first in his family to earn a college degree – and received a bachelor of arts degree with honors. 

Today, McElrath, 39, is the operations manager at FedEx in New Orleans, and is confident that his decision to attend WKCTC was the right one for him.

“Flexible course offerings, convenient locations, and affordability all make WKCTC an obvious choice (and a smart choice) for anyone wanting to continue their education,” McElrath said. “But what people really need to remember is that stepping straight from high school into a university environment is a drastic change, and is the reason many college freshmen crash and burn. I had the luxury of being older and (maybe) more mature through this process, but community college for me was a thorough and great preparation for that next big step. If nothing else, graduating from WKCTC gave me momentum going into Tulane. I felt like I was a step ahead of everybody else.”

Favorite StarJennifer Haines - WKCTC is like Family

Jennifer HainesEddyville resident Jennifer Haines is the first in her family to go to college – a special accomplishment for her and her family.

At 30 years old, Jennifer is back in college after taking time off to work and support her family.  But as her kids got older, she knew it was time to come back to school.  “I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck. I wanted to become financially stable for me and my kids, and earning a college degree is my ticket to do that.”

Jennifer is studying computer information systems and is all smiles when she talks about her time at WKCTC.  She raves about the constant support of the college faculty and staff. “Everywhere you look, someone is always there to help you on your journey. They genuinely care about your success; WKCTC is like a family to me.”

Jennifer said that being a Student Ambassador and being in the Service Learning class has put her right in the center of excellent social and learning environments, as well as broadened her horizons on a personal level.  She has had the opportunity to meet new people, become more culturally diverse, and been exposed to events and programs that have helped prepare her for the future. “I am forever grateful to be a part of such eye opening, heartwarming, beneficial experiences that have truly been life changing for me.”

When asked what advise to give to other nontraditional students, Jennifer just said “DO IT! You will not regret it. It is your best chance at a successful education that will lead to your career.  WKCTC, you won’t find anything better!”


Favorite StarGary Harper – Began as a WKCTC Student

Gary HarperTennessee native Gary Harper worked in a factory not long after serving as an Air Force staff sergeant in Desert Storm. A manager in a factory that made rotors for air conditioning compressors, Harper said he could see the writing on the wall and knew there would be major cutbacks at the plant. “The two factories I worked at, both of them either had major cutbacks or closed, so I was looking for a career that didn’t do that as often. Because in factories you can make good money for a little while and then you lose everything. I looked into health care and it was pretty much consistent employment so that’s what drew me to the
profession.”

Harper, 42, the father of two daughters, moved from Tennessee to Kentucky and began work as an orderly/nursing assistant at Murray-Calloway County Hospital in Kentucky. The hospital offered a program at the time that paid for one year of post secondary education if the person agreed to work one year at the hospital. Harper enrolled at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, graduating with an Associate in Science degree in nursing in 2005. He was offered a position as a registered nurse at Murray-Calloway County and continued his quest for higher education, earning Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in nursing. He was recently hired to teach medical surgical nursing at WKCTC and plans to pursue his doctorate in nursing. “The education at WKCTC was very important. My associate degree has been the most important degree to me. From it, I was able to do everything else. I was able to work as a nurse and start my profession. It gave me the education that I needed to get my bachelor’s and from that I was able to get my master’s and hopefully one day get my PHD. So it was the beginning of my entire profession.”

Harper said you have to decide what you want out of life. “You can stay and work in factories which is fine because I still have several family members that that’s exactly what they do and they are comfortable with that, but education is important because it gives you more options. Once you get an education, you can still stay and work in factories but you’ll have the options to do more things. So it’s important regardless of what you end up doing, you need to have an education to be able to make those decisions and to have those options for your future.”

Favorite StarEsther Peters - A Special Relationship

Esther PetersEsther Peters, a nursing student at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, and her dog Gaston are almost inseparable. They come to class together on campus for a special reason. Gaston is a personal glucose meter for Peters who has Type 2 diabetes.

The six-year old standard size poodle sits quietly at her side in class until he senses that Peters’ sugar levels are dropping and then he jumps into action to warn her with what she calls his “blood sugar dance.”

Thanks to Gaston, Peters can go to college, go to the grocery, shop at the mall – everything she wants to do. Gaston has saved Peters from going into diabetic shock or worse countless times. He's even done his dance in the dead of night twice after sensing the change in her sugar levels, even though Gaston doesn't sleep in the same room.

"I trained Gaston as a research project just to see if it could be accomplished, and it only took about three months,” said 35-year-old Peters, a resident of Mayfield. As a parent of five children, she said it's important for parents of children with diabetes to know they can also train their dogs to be a backup detection plan and a sense of security for them as well.

Like a search-and-rescue or drug-sniffing dog, a diabetic alert dog must be able to recognize a scent, locate the scent, and perform a trained behavior to indicate the scent. Peters said anyone could train a dog to do what Gaston does for her; it just takes patience and self-discipline.

After earning her nursing degree, Peters plans to go on to earn her doctorate and continue researching and training diabetic alert dogs as well as the possibility of cancer alert dogs. In the future she hopes work with physicians to train dogs to detect other diseases. “I want to be able to teach dogs how to detect cancer and alert their owners early; I really feel that’s possible.”

 

Favorite StarAsheley Thomas - A National Winner

Asheley ThomasAsheley Thomas of Boaz recently took home a national honor from the Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference in Chicago, Ill., last month. She is a student at West Kentucky Community and Technical College.

Thomas was one of the more than 1,600 of America’s best and brightest college students from across the United States that participated in the PBL Step Up to the Challenge conference in the Windy City June 24-27. The conference provided students with an outlet to enhance their business skills, expand their networks, and participate in more than 55 business and business-related competitive events. Thomas placed third overall in the macroeconomics category.

“It feels fantastic; I feel honored to have received this recognition for a great deal of hard work,” said Thomas.

The award was part of a comprehensive national competitive events program sponsored by the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and PBL that recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas. For many students, the competitive events are the capstone activity of their academic careers. In addition to the competitions, students immersed themselves in educational workshops, visited an information-packed exhibit hall, and attended motivational keynotes on a broad range of business topics.

 Asheley Thomas2“We are very proud of Asheley. This is the 2nd year in a row she has placed in the top 10 in the nation in an event,” said PBL advisor and WKCTC professor Tiffinee Morgan. Thomas also placed first in the macroeconomics and third in the microeconomics categories at the state competition in March 2015.

A 1997 St. Mary High School graduate, Thomas earned a Bachelor of Science degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville before coming to West Kentucky. A business administration major at West Kentucky, Thomas wants to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and plans to transfer to Morehead University to complete that degree. She and her husband, Allen, have one daughter.

Thomas said participating in campus organizations helps build confidence and prepare for the future. “I would advise other students to take advantage of student organizations such as PBL. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and develop leadership skills,” said 35-year-old Thomas, vice president of West Kentucky’s PBL chapter. “You can get as much out of these opportunities as you put into them. It was my goal this year to go to nationals and place in one of my events and I achieved that goal. I wouldn’t have, though, if I hadn’t studied and worked hard...”

Favorite StarMiranda Turner - New Job

Miranda TurnerMiranda Turner of Paducah, a former student and Culinary Training Coordinator at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, recently accepted the position as the pastry chef at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn.

Turner began working part-time for the college's Campus Culinary Services in December 2010 prior to graduating from WKCTC with an associate in applied science degree in culinary arts in May 2011.

WKCTC Food Service Supervisor Linda Hollingsworth soon began expanding the Campus Culinary Services and Turner earned a full-time position working in the Cyber Cafe located in the Emerging Technology Center. The knowledge Turner gained played an important role in the development and opening of the Center Cafe in the college's Student Center.

Next Turner transitioned to her position as culinary training coordinator where she began teaching classes for cooks working in the river industry. "By being placed into a role where I was educating and training individuals, I was able to work with a large amount of diverse students." The classes helped establish the Marine Culinary Track within the college's Marine Technology program.

Since the cook's training began in 2010, over 700 cooks from across the country trained at WKCTC.

Turner said she was ready to make the move to Nashville thanks to Hollingsworth and the faculty in the WKCTC Culinary Arts program. "I have always seen my instructors from culinary arts as my mentors. Everything that I've learned from my time in the kitchen and in the classroom has shaped me in amazing ways," said Turner. "I am certain that without the knowledge passed on by my instructors and those I've worked for, I would lack the essential skills and the confidence to have even applied for a position like this."

Favorite StarCarlos Ransey – Determined to Get His Life Back on Track

Carlos RanseyCarlos Ransey graduated from high school in 1993 and went to Murray State University on a football scholarship. Life was great. His studies were on target and the football team had an exceptional record his senior year. But that spring his life took a drastic turn. Carlos’ beloved aunt passed away, and he fell into a deep depression, dropping out of school just a few months before graduation.

After years of flirting with disaster, Carlos was determined to get his life back on track. After nearly ten years, he did earn a bachelor’s degree in exercise science; but he knew something was missing; and he had to move in a new direction.

With the devastating loss of his grandmother to a heart attack in 1998, Carlos wanted to honor her and make a difference in the lives of others with heart problems. He chose a new career in cardiac rehabilitation.

Knowing he needed more education, West Kentucky Community and Technical College was his first choice. He enrolled in the Physical Therapist Assistant program in fall 2006. After hard work and dedication, he graduated with honors and has never looked back.

Carlos now works in outpatient therapy at Murray Calloway County Hospital. “I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. I love helping others and get joy from seeing them realize that they can have a better quality of life if they are willing to work for it. I owe it all to God and West Kentucky.”

Favorite StarHeather Vandiver - New Outlook on Life

Heather VandiverWhen Heather Vandiver began taking classes at WKCTC, she was uncertain of herself and the future. Two years later, Vandiver has a new outlook on life.

"When I began my career at West Kentucky Community and Technical College I was timid, unsure of my future, and I didn't know a single person in Paducah," Vandiver said. "Now I can say with pride that I am very sure of my future, I am confident in my actions and work, and I have many friends whom I love. I will never forget my mentors, and the people who have helped me become the strong, independent, confident, driven woman that I am today."

A Hopkins County Central High School graduate, Vandiver earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in business administration in December 2014. She is continuing her studies at WKCTC to earn an Associate in Arts degree with plans to transfer to Murray State University in fall 2015 to earn her bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Favorite StarAngela Whitis – Comfortable with WKCTC's Friendly Atmosphere

Angela WhitisLike many of WKCTC’s students, Angela Whitis, 37, enrolled at the college as a part-time student, juggling a son, a husband, and a job as a dental assistant.

When the Boaz resident decided she wanted to be a dental hygienist, she was apprehensive. “I am hard to impress, but WKCTC did it. West Kentucky has caring and compassionate faculty. I never met one instructor that was not passionate about teaching,” Whitis said. “Actually not just about teaching, but also about life.  They are open to suggestions and will go the extra mile to help students succeed.”

Being a non-traditional student did not stop Angela from participating in activities at the college. She was a student ambassador, a member of Phi Theta Kappa and of the Student Government Association.

“I had never stepped foot in a college before, so I was anxious when I came to WKCTC.  But I was never treated like an inconvenience.  Everyone was extremely helpful and friendly and made me feel comfortable from the minute I walked through the door.”

angela Whitis 2014As part of unique program at WKCTC, Whitis graduated in May 2014 with an associate in applied science degree with high distinction from Henderson Community College, having taken her pre-requisites and core classes at WKCTC. Now a registered dental hygienist, Whitis has worked at Cunningham Dental since August 2013.

“Each and every instructor that I had set the bar high. They went above and beyond to make sure that I had every opportunity to succeed… I truly cherish my time at WKCTC.”