When Mark Welch, 47, came to Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Danville 10 years ago, he helped set the tone that became the truth of an education from the school — excellence.
Welch, who lives in Garrard County with his wife and daughter, is a Kentucky native who has taught machine tool technology at community colleges for his entire teaching career and was even the curriculum chairman for the state.
He had been at a school in Owensboro, he says, for years when he heard about what was planned for Danville.
He wanted in so he came and stayed. Welch says he loves the program and the facility.
“I¿see so many who graduate from here that came to be retrained and are back to work and others who have gone on to open their own businesses,” he says. “I’ve even seen some that started out here, in our program, that now teach. At least four or five that I know who teach right now across the state.”
Welch teaches traditional skills as well as the latest, state-of-the-art technologies in his field.
“There is so much one-on-one here. My math class when I was in college was held in an auditorium,” he says. “This is better.”
Adam Bland, 25, liked his education at Bluegrass Community and Technical College so much, he did it again.
“If I could go back there to further my education, I would,” he says.
Bland graduated in 2007 the first time as a licensed practical nurse and turned around “right away” to graduate there in 2008 as a registered nurse.
“I’m not bragging on myself here when I tell you that I passed both boards, both times, the first time and so did everybody I knew in school there,” he says. “I’m bragging on my school and my instructors.”
Bland graduated from high school in Campbellsville with a baseball scholarship to the university there, but he turned it down to come to Danville because of the nursing program here.
“They were supposed to have a nursing program up and running by the time I graduated, but it didn’t happen so I declined,” he says.
He lives in Campbellsville now and works as an operating room nurse at Taylor County Hospital, which paid for part of his education in exchange for him agreeing to come back there to work it off.
He says he could easily have gone straight to work at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville.
“They talked to us, and there was a job there for sure if I wanted it,” he says.
He cannot say enough good things about his experience in the program, especially about his instructors and especially about Cheryl Puckett.
“It was just a quality education. My instructors had usually 20 years or more of actually doing what they were teaching us. They had just years and years of experience combined,” he says. “So they were not just handing it to us. They wanted us to know it’s not just a job — it’s about people’s lives so if you are in it for the money, go home.”
He thinks any who were not willing to be dedicated were weeded out in the first or second semester.
“I felt like if I didn’t pass my boards, it would have reflected badly on my instructors, on my school. I didn’t want that,” he says.
Why did he want to be a nurse?
“My dad,” he says. “He suffered a head injury when I was in the eighth grade and was flown to UofL and spent five days in the ICU. I knew then what I wanted to do.”