Whitesburg KY

Local school’s undertaker program is now accredited

The Funeral Service Program at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College has gained full accreditation from the American Board of Funeral Service Education. Word of the news has made program director Denise Shumate “overjoyed,” saying the program, that be- gan in 2012, is ready to “flourish” as the only funeral service curriculum in Kentucky.

Soon, 10 students from the program will receive their associate’s degree marking the end of a twoyear program as they achieved a total of 68 credit hours of learning. With degrees in hand, graduates of the Funeral Service Program will be eligible to sit for the national board examination. Additionally, graduates are required to take a state law test in order to practice in a particular state.

With the departure of the 10, the program will welcome a class of 20 for the fall 2014 semester. All classes are taught on the SKCTC Cumberland campus and in addition to the 68 hours required for the degree, 15 hours are general education classes that included course work in English, math, science, communications and the humanities. Classwork is conducted on Monday and Tuesday for first-year students and classwork for second- year students is offered on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We are happy to have received news of the program’s accreditation and look forward to further building the program,” said Shumate, who teaches in the program along with Steven Miller. Ms. Shumate, a long-time employee of SKCTC, is also a licensed funeral director and embalmer with certification in three state. “It is truly good news of our accreditation, and we have worked very hard for the past two years doing various self-studies and comprehensive assessment evaluations looking at all the aspects of the program. It places a stamp of approval on the program.”

When the Funeral Service Program began accepting students two years ago and with many of the pupils residing across southeastern Kentucky, students, according to Ms. Shumate, quickly came to realize how affordable the program is. “Our students pay the tuition rate of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which is much less than one would pay by attending a school of mortuary sciences in a neighboring state,” she said.

She also lauded the efforts of the college’s chief academic officer Wheeler Conover, who played an important role in the creation of the program.

Facilities for Southeast’s Funeral Service Program are cutting edge and feature an embalming lab and merchandising room located in Falkenstine Hall. Construction of the facility was completed earlier this year.

Shumate said that having a career in the funeral service field is rewarding. “People who are compassionate and servant minded are the ones who usually excel in the field,” she said. “I am happy to be involved with the program; I look forward to helping shape and guide the students. This is an exciting time.”

She noted that various pre-admission conferences will be held this summer, with an open house slated for late May.

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