SKYCTC graduates lauded at SKyPAC; Neal installed as president
- By CHUCK MASON The Daily News
Unlike mom’s new associate’s degree, her son is still a work in progress.
Kayson, her yet-to-be-born son, accompanied Mattox as she walked across the stage in cap and gown at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center.
Mattox was among SKYCTC’s scheduled 493 graduates receiving 2,181 credentials at the college’s commencement. SKyPAC was filled to the brim, with many onlookers standing behind the filled seats in the top balcony.
Mattox received her associate’s degree in office systems technology. Her 4-year-old daughter Kinsley; husband Markus; parents Sharon and Billy Claywell; and grandparents Jimmy and Peggy Claywell were expected in the audience. “I can tell him – Kayson – that he graduated with me,” Mattox said before the ceremony.
The commencement also marked the installation of Phillip Neal as the technical college’s third president.
Neal’s voice broke as he talked about his parents, Ron and Brenda, who were in the audience, calling his mom, “my quiet strength.”
Neal called the installation “the professional highlight of my life,” adding that just like the graduates, he too, was embarking on a new beginning. Neal has been serving as college president for about a year, coming to Bowling Green six years ago.
The road to Mattox’s degree took longer than anticipated, about four years, she said before the ceremony.
“I got pregnant right as I started to college,” said the 24-year-old, who lives near Barren River State Park outside Glasgow. “It’s gone really well. My husband and my little girl have been right there beside me.”
Mattox is an office clerk-receptionist for T.J. Health Partners in Glasgow and said she loves her job. “I love working with the computers and checking in the patients,” she said.
Narmin Aliyeva’s journey to her degree in office systems technology began in 2009 and included two trips from Bowling Green to her homeland in Baku, Azerbaijan, nestled along the Caspian Sea. “My college experience was really great. I appreciated all my teachers,” said the 28-year-old Aliyeva. She was married in 2012 in Azerbaijan.
In 2010, Vaughn’s daughter, Amy, received a degree from the technical college, and after retiring from Wal-Mart following a 22-year career in human resources, Vaughn started school again, this time at Bowling Green Technical College in 2011. Her younger daughter, Amber, could be walking across the stage next year for SKYCTC. Vaughn works with human resources at Stewart-Richey Construction in Bowling Green.
Her four grandchildren got to see their grandmother graduate Friday, along with her mom and stepdad, Linda Vaughn and Larry Finn.
“This has been a dream of mine for as long as I could remember,” she said.
Neal said SKYCTC exists to help bring a better quality of life for Friday’s graduates and their families. “Education is a bridge,” he said. “College is not a destination,” he said, but rather a pathway to a brighter future. “As educators, building bridges is our mission.”