Kristen Richardson worked 17 years in customer service for national companies, dot-com start ups, and as a vice president over customer service for a software company. But after she was laid off, she lost three potential management jobs because she did not have a college degree.
That kind of made it very clear to me that I had to do something, said Richardson, a high school dropout who later received her diploma and GED. Even if I did find a job, I didn t want to do entry level work for the rest of my life.
Two years later, in May 2009, Richardson graduated with an Associate s degree in computer information technology from Bluegrass Community and Technical College. She will transfer to Eastern Kentucky University in the fall. She hopes to earn a bachelor s degree in computer science interactive multimedia.
I don t think there was really any better option to move me back into the workforce and into a new career path, said Richardson, 37.
Because she became unemployed through a layoff, Richardson got financial assistance through the Workforce Investment Act to attend college. Enrolling at BCTC was a clear choice. She was attracted to the smaller classes, affordable tuition, and the quality education she would get from professors who have extensive real-world experience.
I ve taken classes with people who are legends in the Mac world; I ve taken classes with people who have done huge system migrations for fortune 50 companies, Richardson said. The level of instructors is in far in excess of anything I could have ever dreamed of.
Richardson credits her BCTC instructors for guiding her to future career. She started in the network administrator program, but her professors encouraged her to look into computer programming.
Without BCTC, I probably wouldn t have found my ambition to be a programmer, Richardson said. In the time that I ve been here, I ve been able to focus myself and come to a decision about what I want to do versus what I have to do to keep a roof over my head.
She is certain she could immediately get a job with her associate s degree, and with that confidence, she is excited for her future.
I ll be the next old lady writing the next World of Warcraft, that s my ambition, she said with a smile. I m actually excited about what s coming. It s been two years since I had a job, but I know one is coming and I know it s going to be one, in the first time in my life, that I like and I m good at. And that s all BCTC, and that s strictly been given to me by coming here.