HAZARD—Ten years ago, Southeastern Kentucky was gifted with a new way of approaching higher education. Instead of students having to choose between more options at a state university or the security of staying closer to home and attending a local community college, both of those options were made available with the establishment of the University Center of the Mountains (UCM) at the Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC). On Wednesday of last week, staff and administrators at the UCM celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the opening of the UCM.
“Our students come from very busy life experiences. Many of our students are what we refer to as place-bound. They love these mountains … and they don’t necessarily want to leave, in many cases they cannot,” said Dr. Deronda Mobelini, director of the UCM. “So, the challenge has been, how do I go on to school and still take care of my other business. Well, of course, the UCM was created with the idea to provide that improved access to higher education for folks living in this region.”
Mobelini explained that the UCM was a collaboration of local universities—which include Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University,the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and Lindsey Wilson College—that offer courses through the university at HCTC.
Students who had been able to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them by the UCM were on hand at the celebration to talk about their experiences with the college.
Janice McPeaks, a students at Morehead State University through the UCM, is a mother, wife, and GED recipient. She said without the UCM she never would have been able to receive her education in elementary education.
“I am not a high school graduate, I actually got my GED from Hazard (HCTC). Being a non-traditional student, I went back to school in 2010,” she said.
McPeaks explained that at that time, though she dreamed of becoming a teacher that program was not available to her at the local community college. It was then that she was introduced to the idea of using the UCM to work towards her teaching degree at Morehead State.
“Without being able to do that here at the University of the Mountains, I would have to travel to Morehead to have done so. That couldn’t have happened with me having two children, home, family … I couldn’t have done that without being able to do it here,” she said.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.