HCTC is celebrating its 50th year, and we have enjoyed hearing the memories of our graduates.
50th Anniversary Celebration
HCC success story: Connie Davis Shettler
Connie Davis Shettler graduated from Hazard Community College in 1970 and she values her education. She has since moved away, married, had children, and enjoys a fulfilling career, but even after all these years, she has nothing but the highest praise for her HCC experience.
“As I ponder my time at HCC, we were privileged to be the first class and to be guided thorough our formative years by administrators and professors who took a sincere interest in preparing us for the future. One of the benefits of HCC is we were not just a number; we had the opportunity to develop personal relationships with faculty and staff of the college. They challenged us to be our best and to make our dreams come true. I am grateful to be a member of the first graduating class of Hazard Community College,” noted Connie.
Her parents, Elmer and Margaret Davis, wanted her to attend HCC. “They were very excited for UK to establish a two year college in Hazard. They were firm supporters of improving our hometown of Hazard and felt a strong need for a college education,” noted the former HCC Health, Physical Education and Recreation major.
“Everyone reached out to each other and became very good friends. We had a great group of professors that helped us and began to establish themselves in our mountain community. They challenged us to do our best and gave us a very good foundation to move to the next level of education,” she said.
After feeling adequately prepared to further her studies, she headed to the University of Kentucky where she was enrolled in the College of Education. She graduated from UK in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree. Her first position after graduation was with the Appalachian Regional Hospital system as Recreational Director.
In fall 1973, she married Robert Shettler and moved to Orlando, Florida. In fall 1973, she began teaching Health and Physical Education at Tuskawilla Middle School in Winter Park, Florida. After four years she had her first daughter, Elizabeth, and she became a full time mother. Two years later she had our second daughter, Kelly.
Once the girls started school, she started a small business in Orlando focusing on floral design and event planning called “Brides and Blooms,” working around 35 weddings and events per year. She still does floral design and her work was featured in a national floral magazine, Florists’ Reviews.
Her husband, Dr. Robert Shettler, is also a Kentucky native. He graduated from Georgetown College, Eastern Kentucky University, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Drew University, with further education at Oxford University in England. He serves as Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Gainesville, Florida.
Their daughter, Elizabeth, is a graduate of Stetson University, and she is married to Frank McCormack. Daughter, Kelly, a Samford University graduate, is married to Dr. Forrest Crabtree. There is a total of five grandchildren. As a sports enthusiast living in Gainesville, Florida, home of the University of Florida, Connie still bleeds Kentucky blue in her adopted “Gator” town.
Sondra Maggard was in the first graduating class of Hazard Community College, in 1970. She was the first homecoming queen in 1969 and since the college was part of the University of Kentucky then, she represented the college. “It was so exciting to think a small town girl would be walking out on the field to represent HCC at a University of Kentucky football game,” she said.
As an elementary education major, she started classes in the same building on Broadway Street where she began grade school, which brought back many memories. “College here was just like any other college experience, just no campus to walk on. Everything took place under one roof. You had the lectures, papers to write, learning you were on your own, with some really good teachers, but in small classroom settings,” she shared.
Mrs. Maggard remembers Dr. Marvin Jolly, the college director, who has remained a friend since those days long ago. She appreciates the impression that her teachers made upon her.
“I actually started at UK in the fall of 1968 and had a bad roommate experience. That is when I decided to come back home. I knew going to HCC would be a much better experience,” she noted.
She has enjoyed seeing HCC grow over the years and what an asset to Hazard and Perry County. “I think it is great that a person can stay home or close to home and get a college education,” noted Mrs. Maggard.
Sondra was married in the fall 1970 to Jimmy Maggard Sr. and started her family in 1972. She began working at her parents’ business, Tots and Teens, in 1973 and worked there until they closed in 2003. In 1990, she went to insurance school and received her license to sell pre-need life insurance. She is also a licensed funeral director at Maggard Funeral Home.
Laura Begley Thompson was one of the first graduates of Hazard Community College in 1970. She attended HCC because her mother really wanted her to be enrolled there. Her mother, Nola Bell Begley, in fact, wanted her to attend there so much that she told Laura that the other college to which she had applied didn't accept her. “The day that my older son graduated from high school, my mother told me that I was, indeed, accepted by the other school, but she thought it was better for me to stay home for those two years. So, she never showed me the acceptance letter, and the rest is history. I forgave her.”
The well-meaning trick Laura's mother played on her turned out for the best, however, as attending HCC proved to be a wonderful experience—one for which Laura remains grateful. “My experience at HCC was enlightening, to say the least. Although the staff was always helpful to us 'newbies,' it was a different world. We were treated as adults, with the responsibilities that go along with that freedom. There were two sides to this adult thing. On one hand, it was a freedom I had never had in a school setting. On the other, nobody stood behind to remind me, for instance, what was due when. The self-responsibility added a little stress and drama to the whole experience. That is one of the reasons I am so thankful that I started at HCC. By graduation, I was much more prepared to take on the bigger campus at UK than I would have been had I gone straight there,” she noted.
“I believe that all of us realized how special it was to be a part of HCC’s first class," she continued. "Students and staff at HCC were housed in the old Lower Broadway School building where many of the students had already attended their first years of school. It is hard to believe the campus that houses the college now started out in our little speck of a building,” she said.
Excitement and pride were felt because Laura and her classmates got to be there for all of the firsts: the first clubs; the first planned activities; the first awards; and the first graduating class, among others.
She fondly remembers John Brown and enrolled in every class he taught: history, political science, world history, and speech. “He could be intimidating but was always fair. He was demanding but willing to help if asked, and he was as funny as could be,” Laura remembered.
A zoology teacher is also a memory. “His name escapes me, but his final exam project will go down in history for me and for those in my poor group. We were instructed to find a chicken and mount its skeleton on a board, labeling each bone. We did it, made it a little bonnet, and turned it in. We did not get an A! She was missing a bone, and we were graded down for her bonnet. You just never forget something like that,” she said.
A few pranks also come to mind. Laura can still hear the screams as teachers came across critters from the zoology lab at various locations. “There were frogs hanging on doorknobs and peeking out of the ice cream vending machine, —you name it!”
“I am still happy that HCC was the beginning of my college experience,” Laura said. After graduation, she transferred to UK where she majored in English and secondary education. She also studied at Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay and then at Charter Oak State College in New Britain, Conn.
Laura found her calling in the Early Childhood Education field where she served in both teaching and administrative capacities. She was also a national teacher trainer for YMCA of the USA. Her teaching career ended when she opted to stay at home until her sons were in middle and high school; she is now retired.
Laura has been married to Randall Thompson of Louisville since 1974, and the couple has two sons: Adam and Aaron. Adam was born in 1976. He has a degree in journalism and lives in Green Bay, WI, with his wife, Keri, and sons Evan and Liam. Adam is a writer for CBS Sports and has published one children's book, Escape from Egg Harbor. Aaron was born in January 1979. He has a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in public policy and administration from Ohio State University. Aaron lives in San Diego, CA, where he works with a group of family law attorneys.
The Thompsons have lived in Westerville, Ohio, since 1996. They came there by way of Louisville, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, and Green Bay.
Being able to graduate from college debt-free is just one of the reasons Kay Isaacs is glad she graduated from Hazard Community College in 1970. Besides the economics of the decision, she appreciated the social part of being an HCC student. “We had a lot of fun getting to know kids from other schools. It was a great transition from high school to college. We could get tickets for UK football games and attended many. We had parties, dances, and clubs,” she said.
Kay is proud to see how the college progressed through the years. “HCC went from opening in my old elementary school on Broadway to having a beautiful campus. I began my first grade school career and my first year of college in the same building,” she noted. “That was awesome!”
Fond memories include the time an English teacher invited students to her home and the class listened to Rod McKuen records and read poetry. She valued the chance to work for counselor Anne Hurt during the summer.
With her associate degree from HCC in hand, Kay went on to the University of Kentucky where she earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.
She is now retired from a long and varied teaching career. Kay began her teaching career in Mt. Orab, Ohio. She then taught special education for four years in Nonesuch, located in Woodford County, followed by a year of teaching math and science at Roanoke County Middle School in Virginia.
Kay left Virginia to return to Hazard City Schools to teach one year of special education and two years in third grade. Then, she moved to Lawrenceburg where she taught special education for two years at Anderson County Middle School. After staying home for ten years to raise two boys, Kay spent the next four years at The School for Creative and Performing Arts, teaching fifth grade. She later moved from there to help open Veterans Park Elementary in Fayette County. Kay retired from there after spending 20 years as a fifth grade teacher.
Kay and her husband of 45 years, Steve Isaacs, live in Lexington. Son Steve, Jr. lives in Bainbridge Island, Seattle. He is a port engineer with boats, hover crafts, and barges in the Arctic, Alaska, Vancouver, and Washington. He is married and has one son, Eliot. Danell, his wife, was a psychologist and is now a stay-at-home mother. The couple’s younger son, Garrett Lanham, lives in Nicholasville with his wife and three children: Mack, age 6; Owen, age 4; and Betsy, age 2. Garrett is a project manager with Marine Solutions, a specialized construction and engineering firm focused on building and maintaining waterfront, hydraulic, navigation, and bridge structures. His wife, Kelly, is a very busy stay-at-home mother.