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Higher education joined forces with a higher power Sunday in Radcliff.
Elizabethtown Community and Technical College hosted its second Super Sunday college fair this weekend at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. ECTC and the 15 other colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System partnered with churches in their respective communities to provide information and resources about college to families and prospective students.
Felicia Toliver, director of cultural diversity at ECTC, said the goal was to show families what college can offer and what assistance is available to pay for tuition and expenses, particularly for black students and other minorities.
“We’re, in essence, taking college to the people because it can be intimidating to walk onto a college campus,” she said.
Visitors were greeted with lunch and were able to visit several different colleges that had booths set up around the room.
ECTC President and CEO Thelma White said the impetus falls on educators to immerse themselves in the community and brace families for what awaits those who seek a college education.
“We feel it’s our responsibility to come where the community is and bring this information to you,” she said.
White said colleges and universities have made strides to increase numbers of minority students enrolled at their campuses, but many of those students do not graduate. She urged those in attendance to take the plunge into higher education, do their part and finish what they start.
She also advocated for early planning and preparation to flesh out college goals and cautioned against procrastination because the world is becoming increasingly competitive and fast-paced.
“If you put something off until tomorrow, you may be two times behind the next day,” she said.
White said educators wanted those in attendance to find better-paying jobs and contribute to society and ECTC is a good place to start. White said studies have shown more minority students are starting their college careers at community colleges.
“This is not because we are the last choice,” she said.
White said students have different studying methods and some prefer the personalized assistance and smaller classrooms ECTC can provide.
Ariana Johnson, who is taking classes at ECTC, told students they should not view community colleges as an inferior academic experience.
“I’ve learned a lot at ECTC,” she said. “I have one class that’s kicking my butt.”
Brenda Tucker, who emceed Super Sunday, said education can provide hope for students and an outlet to a well-paying job. For some, she said, it will feel like they are working for free because they enjoy their job so much.
Tucker also said some view college as a way to get away from home, but it’s not that simple.
“Wherever you go, you’re going to have to apply yourself,” she said.
As part of the Super Sunday initiative, KCTCS also honors alumni through inclusion in its Super Sunday Hall of Fame. The Rev. John Pettigrew, who graduated from ECTC in the 1960s, was inducted into the hall of fame and said education is the lifeblood of today’s society. His ministry creates new church starts, which are handed over to young, first-time pastors, according to ECTC.
“Education is priceless,” he said. “Education is an absolute must. Without it, you’re doomed.”
Arguing his point, Pettigrew said it is hard to point to a job where education is not valued.
“You can’t work at McDonalds without some kind of education,” he said. “At some point the power will go down and you’ll have to count change to somebody.”
Pettigrew approached college at a time when segregation still played a central role in U.S. society. He said he was viewed as someone who didn’t have the financial resources or academic background to go to college and was told he was not college material, but he spent hours in the library working on his grades to prove the notion wrong.
Now, he said, students have more opportunities to go to college than ever, but they never should forget how close they are to a time when college wasn’t so readily available.
“There is absolutely no excuse, there’s no reason, for you not to get a college education,” he told the crowd. “These people are lying at your lap.”
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.