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It wasn’t until Sara Cooper already had enrolled in Western Kentucky University and met with an adviser that she learned the good news. The campus that she had been going to for classes, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, could be the same place where she completed her bachelor’s degree.
“I was so excited when they told me I could finish it all up here,” she said.
Cooper, 24, will graduate in May with a degree in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in education. Cooper started the degree at ECTC and completed it at Western’s satellite campus that’s located on ECTC’s site.
The interdisciplinary degree is one of 13 bachelor degrees that are offered at the Elizabethtown-Radcliff-Fort Knox campus for Western. The degrees include elementary and middle grades education, social work, psychology, sociology and nursing.
There are nine master degrees as well as five Rank I graduate programs at the site as well.
This has, in essence, created a four-year higher education institution in Hardin County, though many people might not be aware of it.
Western has been in the Hardin County area since 1964, when classes were taught in local high schools for educators to complete their master’s degrees in education, said Ron Stephens, associate dean for the Western Kentucky University Elizabethtown-Fort Knox-Radcliff campuses. In 1975, they agreed to offer classes at Fort Knox.
The Higher Education Reform Act in 1997 merged the community and technical colleges together and created five regional postsecondary education centers in the state, one of which is located on the ECTC campus. ECTC and Western began to partner together to offer classes and outline common programs, Stephens said.
Western had more than 1,200 students located on the Hardin County campuses according to data gathered at the end of 2009.
Cooper, who is from Leitchfield, wasn’t interested in having the traditional college experience and stay in a dorm.
“I wanted to commute and do it that way,” she said.
She also had a part-time job in Leitchfield, so she decided to attend ECTC with the goal of finishing her degree at Western. She did think she might have to eventually go to the main campus in Bowling Green until she learned differently in the meeting with her adviser.
She applied to Western to become a student there, and moved her transcript from one institution to another. But the classes within the program are designed to work together, without any issues when transferring credits.
“So it actually was really smooth,” Cooper said.
Once Cooper graduates, she plans to get a master’s degree in exceptional education, which can be obtained at the ECTC campus as well.
Christy Kennedy, 37, is working toward her degree in elementary education. Kennedy is part of a military family, and has moved while trying to finish her education. Because of she understands the problems one can face when trying to transfer credits. So while she looked at attending the University of Louisville, it had no relationship built with ECTC, so she decided to finish her degree with Western.
“It’s just been a nice transition knowing my classes I took transferred over and they’re working together,” Kennedy said.
The satellite campus gives Western room to grow, Stephens said. Stephens said Western has been one of the fastest growing colleges in Kentucky, and he sees the satellite campuses as a way to absorb some of that growth.
ECTC supplies good students to Western as well, he said. They typically have a higher grade point average than the average Western student.
Cooper’s and Kennedy’s issues illustrate many of the reasons ECTC President/CEO Thelma White cites as benefits that ECTC sees from having a partnership with Western. Students can’t always leave home to attend school, so the partnership brings the opportunity to them. This means more opportunities for an educated populace.
“I think its benefited the community more than anything,” she said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or email@example.com.