While attending a Student Leadership Conference at Eastern Kentucky University’s Manchester regional campus, Clay County High School student Kendra Messer learned resources are available to help her achieve her college dream.
“All of the information presented on financial aid was helpful,” she said. “It validated the fact that you don’t have to be wealthy to go to college. There are tons of resources if you only look for them.”
Messer was among 133 sophomore students from Clay, Jackson, Owsley, and Leslie counties to learn more about college life—and plan for their future—on Nov. 10 during a campus visit at EKU’s new state-of-the-art Stivers Building in Clay County at the third and final Student Leadership Conference presented this fall by Forward in the Fifth and The Center for Rural Development.
Students received valuable information about what they need to do to prepare for college and attended a series of break-out sessions on financial aid, admission requirements, college survival tips, and even a question-and-answer panel discussion led by two college students.
“I thought it was awesome,” Owsley County High School student Brittany Schade said of the leadership conference. “I learned things I did not know before, like the cost of books.”
Jackson County High School student Brittany McDaniel said the experience helped ease some of her fears about attending college while Leslie County High School student Lindsey Couch said the conference drove home another point.
“I learned that it is never too early to start preparing for college,” Couch said. “Everything you do in high school matters.”
The Student Leadership Conferences are part of a partnership by Forward in the Fifth and The Center in cooperation with Eastern Kentucky University, Campbellsville University, and Morehead State University to give nearly 400 students from 12 counties across Southern and Eastern Kentucky a chance to taste life on a college campus and see their lives from a new and exciting perspective.
“These Student Leadership Conferences are all about planting a seed and making a personal commitment to furthering one’s education following high school,” Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth, said. “Whether obtaining a two-year, four-year, certificate, or advanced degree, resources and support are available.
“Hopefully, the conferences will dispel some myths and pique interest to continue the participants’ quest for life-long learning,” he added.
The quest to promote youth leadership opportunities across The Center’s 42-county primary service area in Southern and Eastern Kentucky is part of its overall mission, and these Student Leadership Conferences are a perfect example of cooperative partnerships at work to change the lives of the region’s high school students, Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, said.
“We want to stimulate young people’s minds by encouraging and supporting them to pursue postsecondary education,” he said. “By doing so, we will unleash new individual possibilities and exciting opportunities by equipping our region to become a powerful economic engine in the future.”
The student conference, held on EKU’s Manchester satellite campus dedicated in 2009, also was sponsored in partnership with EKU and GEAR UP Kentucky.
“The conference was a true partnership opportunity for 10 colleges across the region,” Tackett said. “While the event was held at EKU’s Manchester regional campus, students wore a variety of lanyards provided by higher education institutions. This visually illustrated the numerous choices available for those interested in furthering their education within Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”
Earlier this fall, two other leadership conferences were held on the campuses of Campbellsville University for high school juniors from Adair, Casey, Clinton, and Cumberland counties and at Morehead State University for high school sophomores and juniors from Bath, Fleming, Menifee, and Rowan counties.
For more information on upcoming Student Leadership Conferences, contact Jim Tackett at 606-677-6000 or e-mail.
Forward in the Fifth, an affiliate of The Center, strives to engage community stakeholders to advance the value of education; serves as advocates to advance all education systems to improve educational attainment; and supports schools and stakeholders to secure needed resources to improve the quality of education within their local communities.