Alumni Spotlight

Judith W. Hinkle, '52A, '62

By: Devin Hanners, '09
July 16, 2014

In a world that is being systematically depersonalized day-by-day due to the unstoppable Internet, sometimes we all get a little too caught up in the hustle and bustle that is everyday life. We sometimes forget the things that really matter – the little random acts of kindness that make this big blue world go ‘round. We all know what they are – supporting a young person’s dream, getting a door for someone who has their arms full, or simply saying something nice to a person on the street. And sometimes, it’s never forgetting where you came from, or who got you to where you are. Join us this month we take a look at the story Judith Walters Hinkle, a Bear who (along with her husband Doug), has made a life out of giving back to her community and alma mater.
Hinkle’s connection with Pikeville College could not be more personal. Her grandmother, Elizabeth Syck Walters, was among the inaugural graduates from “The Hill” in 1894, and her father, Walter P. Walters Sr., served the college as a member of the Board of Trustees. Needless to say, the fondness and appreciation for Pikeville College was already alive and well in the Hinkle household by the time her parents decided to send her to Pikeville College’s Training School.
After completing her elementary work at the Training School, Hinkle continued her education at the Pikeville College Academy, which served as a local educational institution for grades 1-12 before the college was formally incorporated as a four-year baccalaureate granting college.  She graduated from the academy in 1952, which she says was a rich experience. “At the academy, we were a small group, but we were very close. We’ve gone onto new walks of life, but we still get together.” Students had the unique experience while attending the Academy of being able to room on campus in the college dormitories, and receiving their education from college instructors.
In 1952, Hinkle continued on to Pikeville College. The next 10 years of her life were balanced between her career and her studies. She met her husband Doug on “The Hill,” and acquired her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1962, a career she would practice for over two decades. It would be a significant step in her life’s journey of providing to others, a quality that she says Pikeville College helped to foster in her family and herself personally. “Pikeville College afforded opportunity to people in this area who otherwise could not have got an education,” said Hinkle. She would later go on to earn her master’s degree in elementary education from Morehead State University.
Mrs. Hinkle reiterated throughout our discussion that the morals and values taught to her from the Christian atmosphere at the Pikeville College Training School, Academy, and the College have “…stayed with me all my life. I’m so thankful I was able to go to school there and get the education that I did. The things we were taught follow you for the rest of your life.”
Small group interactions, the formation small study groups and lifelong friendship, were originally formed during the days of institutions like the Pikeville College Training School and Academy among people such as Hinkle and her family. They just got together – made it happen. Today, The University of Pikeville continues to work diligently to maintain that close knit, rural, cooperative atmosphere that we all know and love in the mountains and hills of eastern Kentucky.
Hinkle said the “sheer growth of the university astounds me.” In many ways, our society has grown to great heights. But sometimes, great heights can be lonely places. That is why this year Hinkle and her sister, Anne Worthington, recently started the Pikeville College Academy Endowment Fund. “That’s simply to keep the academy experience and the people, to keep that part of it ongoing.” The goal of the fund is to not only continue the spirit and tradition of Pikeville College Academy, but to further the education and opportunities of our up and coming students in the mountains. “If the college meant a lot to you, it’s going to mean a lot to other people coming up to have the same opportunities,” said Hinkle.
Today Hinkle and her husband Doug, who also attended Pikeville College earning an elementary education degree, dedicate a large portion of their lives toward the noble pursuit of carrying on the spirit of Pikeville College Academy. Both serve on the board of UPIKE Alumni Association, attending board meetings and events, doing their best to encourage the Pikeville College Alumni to remain active within the university’s culture. They even host an annual luncheon in Florida to raise awareness, connect alumni and encourage donations for the university.
Hinkle shares her best advice for today’s young people, stating “Enjoy their lives at the university and study hard. Get a degree in whatever you choose and be able to apply what you’ve learned to find success at the college level, and life as well.” And that might be the greatest gift that places like Pikeville College and its now retired academy could ever bestow – that even though most of us may not realize it at the time, these lessons not only apply to the short time that we are in school, but for our entire lives. Well, Hinkle is one Bear that never forgot and we are surely all the better for her.

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