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View from the Hill: Jessica Bentley

October 25, 2010 12:00 AM
View from the Hill
Jessica Bentley

Transferring to Pikeville College is a similar process for any incoming student with previous college experience. There is the act of transferring credits, tuition concerns and the decision of living on campus or possibly being a commuter student. There are feelings of hope in a new beginning, a refreshing feeling of being one step closer to a bachelor’s degree and nervousness about a new campus with new teachers and new peers. Despite that the process may be similar for all of us, I am not the typical transfer student.

When I was 13 years old, I battled meningococcal meningitis which is an infection that causes swelling and inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. In just three months, I lost my hearing and became physically disabled from necessary amputations, on my right leg below my knee as well as fingers on both hands. Since then, I have spent my life facing multiple challenges and trying to inspire others to do the same. After four years of struggling through high school, I made the decision to go through with a cochlear implant surgery that would medically insert a device into the cochlear of my ear giving me “artificial hearing.” Thanks to that device, I regained most of my hearing and was able to excel in a college environment.

At Big Sandy Community and Technical College, I found a home in the human services program and focused on disabilities and counseling. It was during my time at Big Sandy that I discovered a flair for public speaking and inspirational writing, so after graduating from Big Sandy with my associate in arts degree and after obtaining my certificate in human services, I started looking into public speaking programs with the idea of becoming a disability advocate. I knew, however, that I did not want to move away from my family and friends, so when I discovered Pikeville College’s communication program, I immediately applied. After speaking with Kathy Petot, the disability coordinator on campus, about the challenges I would have and the help that Pikeville College could offer, I was set.

This first semester at Pikeville College has been a hectic time for me. I’m still adjusting like any new student to a new campus and tougher courses, but that is on top of my normal physical obstacles. Even though my hearing is normal with my cochlear implant, my speech recognition is still unstable, so taking an elementary Spanish course has definitely been more than a challenge for me and taking a hands-on biology lab definitely has its challenges, too. But the disability center, the Academic Cultural Enrichment (ACE) tutoring program and helpful professors have helped me stay on track.

I feel like I made the right decision in attending Pikeville College, and I look forward to seeing where it is going to take me. I have opportunities here that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else. At a larger public college, I might have been another face in the crowd. Here at Pikeville College, I have a chance to make a difference.

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