- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Switching majors in college isn’t always as negative as some exasperated parents might think.
Paris, Ky., native Jean Dudgeon began her time as a student at the University of Kentucky planning to major in medical technology.
She liked the chemistry parts of her study more than peering through a microscope, so she switched her major to that branch of science.
Studying German as a foreign language was recommended for chemistry majors because the tongue is used more than many others in science.
Dudgeon enjoyed German so much she switched her major again and picked up some French classes as well.
That’s when she stopped changing course and began a career in language education that lasted decades.
Dudgeon, now of Elizabethtown, retired in 2010 from Elizabethtown Community and Technical College after teaching German there for 44 years and teaching French for most of that time.
Her career as an educator was recognized Sept. 22 when she was given this year’s award for lifetime achievement from the Kentucky World Language Association.
Dudgeon didn’t expect to cry when she was called to accept the award at the organization’s gathering in Lexington.
A friend and past recipient of the award nominated Dudgeon and left her with a week’s notice to gather materials such as letters from ECTC, past students and administrators for the nomination to be considered.
The most special and thrilling part of the award was it honored her as a teacher in general, not only a German professor.
“It was just really quite an honor to be selected,” she said.
Dudgeon said the award has gone to outstanding members of the profession, and joining them is exciting.
“I guess it validates a lot of hard work over all those years,” she said.
Dudgeon had been involved with the association and helped in the 1970s to establish a Kentucky chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German.
She was also director of ECTC’s language festival and helped start a faculty and staff variety show at the college that benefits Helping Hand of Hope and now is named after her.
Dudgeon said it was hard to believe by the time she retired because of health concerns that 44 years had gone by.
“I really enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. “I never felt burned out. I never woke up and wished I didn’t have to go to the college and teach. I was very happy.”
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or email@example.com. Stories from the Heartland appears Mondays in The News-Enterprise.