The Best Gift: Investment in Education

WKCTC recognizes donors who have supported the college

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PADUCAH, KY (11/30/2018) In 1974, Kathy Reber Sides was a divorced mother looking for a career to help her support her six-year-old son. For several years, she had taken night classes and classes in the summer with the goal of one day being a teacher. But by 1976, her goal had changed, and she had earned an associate degree in nursing.

More than 40 years later after a successful nursing career as a floor nurse in Paducah, Sides was one of several donors recognized November 29 for their support of West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC).

The 79-year-old Sides worked as a nurse in Paducah for 35 years before retiring in 2011. She said the time was right for her to give back to the college that had given so much to her. Her donation will go to support two nursing scholarships and the newly established Healthcare Education to Work endowment.

"I wanted to hopefully encourage people like me to give whatever they can because it can really make a difference," Sides said. "Education is one of the best things you can have. Whether you finish high school; whether you get an associate degree or a bachelor's degree, any kind of extra education you can get is all very important."

More than 50 individuals, community leaders and company representatives were recognized at the reception and program. More than $700,000 was donated to the college last year, said Lee Emmons, vice president of institutional advancement and development.

In addition to monetary donors, the college also recognized in-kind donations like the donation of a specialized variable drive motor given to WKCTC's advanced manufacturing technology program by Vanderbilt Chemicals in Murray.

"Through your support of Paducah Junior College (PJC) Foundation and West Kentucky Community and Technical College, you make great things happen," Emmons told the donor audience. PJC is the foundation that operates in support of WKCTC. "Because of specific financial support of past and current donors, we were able to award more than $1 million dollars in scholarships last year at West Kentucky Community and Technical College. That includes endowed scholarships, annual scholarships and the community scholarship program. And we were able to provide more than one half million dollars in support of specific college programs including academic programs, the Clemens Fine Arts Center, Paducah School of Art and Design, the Challenger Learning Center, student activities, campus improvements, faculty and staff professional development, technology needs, and more."

"Gifts to PJC are truly investments in the future," Emmons added. "Investing in education is the very best gift of all."

WKCTC students Jonathan Bilak and Charity Itiav-Gar also thanked the donors for supporting them. "This institution has done so much for me and it's been able to do so much for me, without putting me in a humongous financial burden," Bilak said. "And for that, I'm incredibly grateful."

Sides, a Paducah resident, said she remembers how grateful she was for the financial support she received when she attended the college while working and raising her young son, Brian. "By making this donation, I wanted to hopefully encourage other people like me to give or give back," Sides said. "I understand people in need. Every donation helps."

More information about giving to WKCTC through the PJC Foundation can be received by contacting Lee Emmons at (270) 534-3084 or .