Southeast Scholars Overcome COVID-19 Challenges
Cumberland, KY — Despite navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 health crisis, some 30 students in the Southeast Scholars program at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College were able to complete the 23rd annual summer program. Courses shifted to online delivery, creating obstacles that few others in the program had ever faced.
According to Dr. Carolyn Sundy, program coordinator, the students not only gained knowledge by successfully negotiating the online coursework, but they also gained confidence. “They realized they were strong enough to overcome whatever difficulty might be thrown at them,” said Sundy.
The program’s overall goal is to prepare middle and high school students to enroll in college and succeed at that level. Upon graduation from high school and completion of other program criteria, these “Southeast Scholars” are awarded a full scholarship to Southeast, including funds for tuition, fees, and books.
Dr. Sundy noted that in addition to challenging academic courses, the program also strives to help build self-assurance. Recent program graduate Mackenzie Stidham said, “The program has introduced me to the real world; it has built my confidence by helping me to become comfortable talking with people and getting used to public speaking.”
These students successfully completed mathematics and science courses that had to be entirely redesigned for remote delivery by Professors David Clutts, Ramon Cuellar, and Wheeler Conover. The professors also created tutorial sessions for students experiencing difficulty, and the College provided ten laptop computers to students who did not have the necessary equipment at home.
Southeast President Vic Adams applauded the work of everyone involved in the program: “Students of our area deserve nothing but the best,” he said. “Southeast is dedicated to creating a high-quality experience, even during these uncertain times. For 23 years, the Southeast Scholars Program has set the bar high for these deserving pre-college students, and this summer turned out to be no different.”
Dr. Sundy said that this summer was like none other she had experienced. “I am grateful for the outstanding support given by a dedicated faculty and staff who stepped up to quickly rebuild the curriculum and design ways to offer it virtually, but I also want to praise the students for responding so quickly and so well to the changes that were made,” she said.
The Southeast Scholars program is funded completely by private gifts. All donations are currently being matched by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Individuals wishing to support the program should contact Michelle Dykes-Anderson, vice president for institutional advancement, at Michelle.Dykes-Anderson@kctcs.edu.
(Southeast Scholars participated while staying healthy at home. Top row from L--Joseph Gordon, Mackenzie Stidham, Breana Henderson, and Cameron Reynolds; Bottom row from L-- Skylar Thompson, Billy Fields, and Lexie Moore.)