A recent study shows that more college graduates are staying in Kentucky after earning their degrees, which is certainly good news for the state. But are graduates staying in Eastern Kentucky?
Many Eastern Kentucky students say that when it comes to college, the region they call home sometimes simply doesn't offer all they need.
"The bigger colleges can go further than colleges here," said student Samantha Back.
"If everybody goes off, then our economy's just gonna go straight off," said student Chris Hibbard.
It speaks volumes about why University Center of the Mountains officials say that many parts of the region, rank near the bottom of the state in the percentage of people with bachelor's degrees.
"If people are going to be able to have jobs that are good paying, we are simply going to have to have more people with bachelor's degrees," said University Center of the Mountains Director Ron Daley.
But that task is easier said than done. It's also why a recent Eastern Kentucky summit of education and government leaders met to recommend changes to help ensure the future of the region's economy.
"If we're gonna attract the new economy here, we're gonna have to raise the education levels," Daley said.
A focus on increased math and science skills was also recommended to prepare those in the region for advanced jobs that may not even exist yet.
"Their work can then be outsourced via the internet and other technological means to other places in the world," Daley said.
It's a way to "level the mountains," so to speak.
"I love the area, I'm from here, and this is where I want to stay. I love what I do," said Nurse Practitioner Donna Creech.
And ensure a bright Eastern Kentucky future for those future generations.
University Center of the Mountains officials say these changes are intended to be made over a period of time and that they will meet again next fall to see what kind of progress is being made.
The “New Economy in Southeastern Kentucky Summit” report can be viewed on the UCM website www.ucmky.org .