Alumni Success Stories
Doctor, Lawyer, CEO
Southeast has helped countless individuals achieve their dream career. We are proud of every single one of our graduates and below we have decided to share the success stories of a few Southeast Alumni.
Former President and CEO of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College
Ayers had been associated with Southeast for 47 years. After his discharge from the
military in 1964, Ayers began attending Southeast as a student during the college
s infancy when it was affiliated with the University of Kentucky. He served as president
of the student council, and his love for writing culminated in him founding The Southeasterner
newspaper, which is still in print today. He continued his education at the University
of Kentucky, where he received a Bachelor s degree in English, then returned to Southeast
in 1969 as the Associate Director of the Upward Bound program an outreach initiative
that still holds a special place in Ayer s heart to this day. He taught English and
went on to receive his Master s degree in English and his Doctorate in Higher Education.
In 1987, he became the 8th president of Southeast, and the first KCTCS president to
serve in the leadership capacity as a member of the community college s faculty.
During his time as president of Southeast, Ayers was also been responsible for considerable growth to the college. Under his leadership, four extended campuses opened in Harlan, Whitesburg, Pineville and Middlesboro. College programming such as the Nursing School and the Kentucky Coal Academy mine training initiative grew and produced hundreds of graduates with rewarding careers in those fields. Technology also advanced under the leadership of Ayers, and multi-college liaisons were also established under Ayer s direction that afforded even more higher educational opportunities for local students.
The journey that lead Ayers out of a mountain hollow, where he can remember about six mines were in operation, began with a desire to experience more, but to also give more. His as is so many mountain folk are elastic roots. His stint in the military, educational pursuit at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and his world travels as a community college president and civic leader, may have opened doors of learning and living, but is also pulled him homeward to help offer the same opportunities to Southeast Kentucky people that he had been offered.
Community Service Coordinator
Kentucky Communities Economic Opportunity Council
The first time I set foot on the campus of Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College I knew I had come home! I so enjoyed my experience at the college and learned so much from the caring and compassionate faculty. I took classes on and off for a number of years before finally getting my degree, and I then transferred to Lincoln Memorial University to get my bachelor s degree. Southeast has had a prominent role in my family as my two sons are also graduates. I have continued to keep in touch with the college and its programs by being in the community plays Playing With Fire and Higher Ground .
Appalachian Regional Healthcare
The college helped open my eyes to what I could be in life. The faculty mentored me and steered me into the medical field and took a personal interest by challenging me to be the best I could be! I was able to stay at home but received a quality education preparing me for the transfer to UK. Southeast opened many doors for me; I am proud to be an alumnus of the College.
Head Football Coach, Harlan High School
My days as a student at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College were a wonderful experience. By attending Southeast I was able to attend college close to home and discover what my interests were before setting out to a four-year college. I am proud to tell anyone that I am an alumnus of the College. Southeast gave me the solid foundation and the incentive to become a teacher and a coach.
Counselor, Scholar, Master Teacher, Diplomat
Jerome was born in Lynch, the eldest child of Otis and Louvenia Ratchford. His journey
has extended from Lynch West Main High School, class of 1960, to academic experiences
and degrees earned at the University of Kentucky, Indiana University and Bowling Green
State University, where he was awarded a Ph.D. in educational leadership. He began
his collegiate studies as one the first students to enroll at Southeast Kentucky Community
& Technical College. That journey has also seen him hold academic and administrative
posts at Talladega College, Emory University, Lincoln University and Kennesaw State
Dr. Ratchford enjoyed an exceptional professional career. He has taught graduate-level educational leadership and curriculum development courses to aspiring principals and career teachers. He has also taught graduate-level students in the area of cultural diversity and inclusion.
Presently, Dr. Ratchford serves as Vice President of the Division of Student Success at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta. Prior to this position, he served as the Dean of Students and Director of the Student Development Department.
Award Winning Doctor
Georgenna Riley was born in Harlan the fifth child in a family of 11. Her mother,
Geneva Jennings, and stepfather, William J. Jennings, raised her in a Christian home
and were a source of strength and encouragement.
Early in life, she knew she wanted to become a physician and to work to impact the lives of those in need. She graduated from Harlan High School in 1973 and while attending HHS, she completed nine hours of college credit at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Additionally, she was a member of the college s acclaimed Upward Bound Program and spent several summers attending educational programs at Southeast.
She began her employment at Kaiser Permanente in Cleveland in 2001, and six years later she was appointed Medical Director of Radiology for the Ohio region. On the job, Dr. Riley mentors individuals pursuing careers in various medical fields. Dr. Riley also serves on the board of directors at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Additionally, she has endowed a scholarship at the school for minority students pursuing medical degrees. She has been recognized and awarded numerous awards for her work with Ohio University and the community which include the 2011 Alumnae of the Year at Ohio University.
Nationally-recognized music educator, director of the Harlan Musettes and associate
director of the Harlan Boys Choir
I value the education I received and the time spent at Southeast. While a student
there, I was able to take many interesting and challenging classes as well as several
music classes. The faculty was wonderful, giving me the much-needed confidence to major in music at the University of Kentucky. Southeast will forever hold a special place in my heart.