News Archive

WKCTC December Commencement Speakers Include Students and Colleges Economics Professor

West Kentucky Community and Technical College students Gabriel Crider and Jennifer Davis-Cooley will be the student speakers for 2014 Commencement at the Luther Carson Four Rivers Center December 15.

Commencement begins at 7 p.m. The 2014 nursing pinning ceremony will precede commencement at 5 p.m., with 42 nursing students receiving nursing pins representing the completion of the colleges Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program. The pinning ceremony is a symbolic welcoming of newly graduated nurses into the nursing profession.

Both Crider of McCracken County and Davis-Cooley of Obion County, Tenn., are earning an Associate in Applied Science degree with Crider graduating from the nursing program and Davis-Cooley graduating from the physical therapist assistant program.

Each will share personal experiences with their fellow students, faculty and members of the audience that inspired them to continue their education at WKCTC and what brought them to the Carson Center stage as student commencement speakers.

After earning a bachelors degree in exercise science and athletic training from Murray State University in 2011, Davis-Cooley interned for ESPNS Wide World of Sports at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., worked for an orthopedic surgeon, and also provided sports medicine coverage for Union City High School and Middle School.

But Davis-Cooley knew it was important to earn additional credentials in her field. After a diving accident paralyzed her husband in 2008, she researched colleges and a program that would be the best fit for her.

Since I am already a certified/licensed athletic trainer, I knew that I wanted another healthcare certification/license...because in todays world, you need as much education as you can possibly get in order to compete and succeed in the workforce, said

26-year-old Davis-Cooley. With my family situation and job, I knew whatever program I chose needed to be compatible and flexible...and I chose the WKCTC physical therapist assistant program.

Crider earned a bachelors degree in history from the University of Kentucky in 2002. He considered teaching history and coaching basketball in high school before accepting a job in the marketing department at Illinois Harrahs Metropolis Casino. Five years later, Crider accepted another marketing position in St. Louis.

But he could no longer accept time away from his family in Paducah. After returning home, Crider worked several different jobs searching for the right opportunity and the right fit for his future. Crider decided going back to college was what he needed to do, and his mother, a registered nurse, encouraged him to follow the same career path.

I was a bit skeptical, but I began my prerequisites for the ADN program. Every day when I step into a classroom at WKCTC or onto a clinical site, I find that I am as happy and content as I could ever hope to be, said 36-year-old Crider and father of three. I quickly learned that God does indeed work in mysterious ways...I have no doubt that this is where He wanted me to be and this is what I was meant to do.

Both Crider and Davis-Cooley said they are honored to be speaking at the WKCTC commencement. I consider it a great honor to represent the ADN program, knowing what wonderfully talented students and dedicated staff we have at WKCTC, said Crider.

Dr. Kevin Gericke, professor of economics and statistics at WKCTC, will be the evenings keynote speaker. Dr. Gericke, a McCracken County resident, earned a masters degree and doctorate in resource economics from Virginia Tech.

Dr. Gericke has published articles in various education publications, made numerous presentations at regional and national conferences and serves as the chair of the WKCTC faculty. He has served as advisor for the colleges Phi Theta Kappa chapter since 2002 and was selected by students as Teacher of the Year in 2009 and 2013.

I am absolutely humbled to have been asked to speak to these graduates. Many of these students have overcome challenges that I cannot fully comprehend, Dr. Gericke said. I am so proud of our graduates and am honored they have trusted me to play a small role along their educational journey.