At a press conference held in the Edsel Godbey Appalachian Center at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College Cumberland Campus, several dignitaries were on hand to announce the opening of the college’s Funeral Service Program on Thursday. Dr. Bruce Ayers, SKCTC president, said this is the only program of its kind offered within the state and they will begin accepting students in August.
Program Coordinator Denise Shumate said this program will lead to an Associate in Applied Science Degree and is a two-year program, which allows students to achieve 63 to 66 total hours. She said the program will begin with a class of 20 students who will utilize facilities in Cumberland.
“Upon completion of the degree, graduates will hold licensure as funeral directors and embalmers and will be prepared to sit for the state and national board exams,” said Shumate. “There is a growing need for those to work within the field and jobs are expected to grow by 12 percent over the next five years.”
Shumate said curriculum will be taught two days per week, with classes beginning at noon on Monday and concluding Tuesday evening. She said the schedule has been designed to aid those who hold jobs and who will be traveling to Cumberland from across the state and from the region. She went on to say the closest Funeral Service program offered is in New Albany, Ind.
“We wanted to bring a program to our people in southeastern Kentucky and feel it will be successful,” said Shumate. “It will prepare many for careers, allowing them to make a good wage while providing a collection of professionals who will deliver much needed assistance to families during their darkest hour.”
Kentucky Funeral Directors Association Executive Director Sidney Fogle said it has been “at least 35 years” since there was a Funeral Service Program offered in the state of Kentucky.
“We’re so excited this is now being offered,” said Fogle. “It’s a tremendous asset to the state and to the funeral service professionals around the state and states surrounding us as well. Through the Kentucky Funeral Directors Foundation, we offer two $4,000 scholarships each year to Kentucky mortuary students who will be practicing in the state. We’re hoping students here will take advantage of these scholarships.”
Ayers said initially classes will be held on the Cumberland campus, but as soon as remodeling can take place, the program will be moved to two buildings recently purchased in the city of Cumberland.
“We think we have a winner in our Funeral Services Program,” said Ayers. “We’re glad to be the first in the state to offer this.”
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