WHITESBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - A prestigious institution has ranked Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College as one of the 10 best community colleges in the country.
The Aspen Institute annually presents its prize for community college excellence and this year SKCTC is one of the finalists.
The award is sought after by more than 1,000 community colleges across the country.
"They looked at things like graduation rates, retention rates, pass rates on licensure examinations," said Dr. W. Bruce Ayers, the school's president. "And how our students do when they transfer to four-year institutions."
The honor may be the biggest in SKCTC's 52-year history.
"Now that I know it's such a prestigious school, it definitely makes me want to try and attend," future student Chloee Bayles said. "It makes me think the classes will be more beneficial."
Celebratory rallies were held on Thursday at SKCTC campuses in Whitesburg, Cumberland, Harlan, Pineville and Middlesboro.
"I think it will get students' attention and I think it will get parents' attention," SKCTC board chairman Reecie Sgagnolia said. "A lot of people, with today's economy, it will make them be able to go to a junior college a lot quicker than it will to a university."
It may pay off in the job market as well.
"Whenever you go for a job interview and you say you're from Southeast, they will recommend you over any other school around this area," said Robin Birchfield, who has been attending SKCTC for four years.
Another student, Brittany Gross, said, "I know a lot of people put down people who have community college degrees, but it makes me feel good to know that we're in the top 10. That's a pretty big deal."