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UPDATE ON MUHLENBERG COUNTY'S WORK READY COMMUNITY EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT EFFORTS

The Muhlenberg County Work Ready Educational Attainment committee has focused their work on increasing the number of adults aged 25-64 that hold at least an associate s degree or higher. This is important work to help improve the workforce of the county and demonstrate to potential employers and industries that Muhlenberg County has a trained, and trainable, population. The knowledge and skills that are gained from completing a college degree are also such an essential component of our county s economic development plan. There have been a number of successful strategies that have contributed to the success of the committee thus far.

One of the most successful campaigns undertaken by the Work Ready committee was to encourage and promote degree completion through the Speed Up your Education promotions that took place across the county over the past 18 months. Sheriff Curtis McGehee served as a spokesperson and appeared on brochures, postcards, and a billboard in the county to catch people s attention and to promote the importance of speeding up your education to completion of a degree. County residents were recruited who had earned college hours but for whatever reason hadn t completed their degree yet. This is a large population in Kentucky and policy makers are working constantly to identify these students and help create programs that can assist their reentry into the educational system. Mailings went out to county residents with hours and no degrees and open houses were held throughout the year. Referrals were also a part of the outreach strategy and potential students are always welcome at the Muhlenberg campus of Madisonville Community College for those with questions about enrolling in academic programs.

Another impactful program underway in Muhlenberg County and available for adult students was the Martin Scholar program. Rob Melton, Martin Scholar and MCC graduate, stated The Martin Scholar Program was a huge benefit to me when I decided to attend college. Not only did it help me financially, but it also benefited me academically. The Martin Scholar program encourages non-traditional students to return to college and make their dream of a college education become a reality. I am thankful to say my dream is now a reality and thanks to MCC and the Martin Foundation, I am excited about my new career in Paralegal Technology. The outlook for my future has never been brighter.

The Martin Scholar program was started in Summer 2012 and was designed specifically to help adult students complete their college degree. Through generous support of the Foundation, students who are age 25 and older, residents of the county, have at least 30 college-level credits earned, and have not yet earned a college degree are eligible to receive a $250 stipend each semester pending good academic standing. This stipend can be used for expenses and hopefully eliminates some of the barriers students may encounter during the term. Once a Martin Scholar completes an associate s degree, the student receives a $400 graduation bonus. As a result, 47 adults have been Martin Scholars with 20 participants receiving the graduation bonus. My recent degree in nursing from MCC is priceless. My educational experience has allowed me to secure a full time position as a Registered Nurse, something I never dreamed possible. As an older adult returning to college, there were many obstacles I faced. The Martin Scholar program assisted me in overcoming an obstacle that stood between me and my degree. The financial support I received while in college allowed me to focus on my course work instead of worrying about how I would pay for books and fees. I am grateful to the Martin Scholar Program says April Whitmer, newly graduated registered nursing student.

Each year Madisonville Community College continues to award associate degrees to a large number of students through courses at the Muhlenberg County Campus site in Central City and through distance learning options as well for residents. It has never been more convenient for students to pursue higher education in the county and our local college continues to provide access to higher education in a comfortable, affordable, and pleasant atmosphere.

Visit the Martin Scholar webpage to learn more about the program.