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WKCTC outreach brings options to minority students

BY KATHLEEN FOXkfox@paducahsun.com

The local community college continued its mission of reaching out to the community and introducing those considering the school to its perks with an informal fair Sunday.

West Kentucky Community & Technical College held its Super Sunday fair at Washington Street Missionary Baptist Church in Paducah on Sunday afternoon following the weekly service by Rev. Reynaldo Henderson. The annual free event, which debuted in January 2011, featured more than 10 booths on different WKCTC and Paducah School of Art and Design programs. Attendees had access to information about admissions, degree programs, financial aid, transfer opportunities and school services, in a one-on-one format, WKCTC public relations coordinator Tammy Thompson said.

Sixteen members of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) participated in the program statewide that partners with a local African-American or Latino church. The aim of the initiative is to increase the rate of minority students within the school system. This year's themes was "Yes You Can" in reference to the feasibility for many to return to school, she said.

Jipuam Askew-Robinson, WKCTC director of cultural diversity, said the fair, which draws more than 100 participants yearly, is about building ties in the community and bringing the college to the forefront of people's minds.

"Events like this one are good for us because it's all about relationship building, either primary by meeting people or secondary through word of mouth," she said. "The community can meet our staff and our president and get comfortable with us."

She said the crowd, which included middle- to high-school-age students, adults considering a return to school and current WKCTC students, symbolized how immersed the college is in the local community.

"We want to put that mindset of 'the college is here for you' whenever we reach out in schools, churches or through community activities," she said.

WKCTC freshman Juanya Moss, who attended the Super Sunday event his junior year in high school, said he considered moving away for college but the offerings and the low cost kept him local.

"I wasn't planning on looking at West Kentucky but once I gave it some thought, I saw it had so much to offer," he said. "Having things like this one in the church is a great way to show the school's resources."

Sixth-grade Paducah Middle School student Casha Wiggins said she was there to learn about the nursing program because "it's never too early to think about college."

Ruby Toliver, like many residents, currently works at USEC but will be laid off in the near future. She said she is considering a return to school through the WKCTC adult education program.

"I'm thinking about my next step. Do I want to train, go back to school, or something else?" she said. "This helps me figure out what's going on, with as much information as possible."

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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