Murray State student is first graduate of College To Career Experience Program

1,300 Murray State racers received their diplomas and became graduates of Murray State University Saturday. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear gave the commencement address and received an honorary Doctorate of Public Policy from the university.

While the students walked across that stage for their accomplishments, one student’s first step was also a first step for the state. Blake Hopkins became the first in the state to receive a College to Career Certificate of Completion.

It’s part of a the Comprehensive Transition Program or SHEP Program (Supported Higher Education Project). It allows students with intellectual disabilities to get a higher education apply for Pell grants, KEES money, or federal work study without needing a high school diploma.

Vonda and Gary Hopkins, Blake’s parents, said they’re very proud of him.

“We are just excited. It’s just a blessing. He’s come so far. He’s done so well,” Vonda said.

College Career Experience Program Coordinator Sharon Arant said students in the program take six hours each semester in classes with everyone else.

“It’s a two year program. You want to integrate students with intellectual disabilities into the full campus life and community life,” Arant said.

She said their job is to get them a job when they graduate Murray State. Arant said Blake will be working part-time at the campus gym and hopefully later on get a full-time job somewhere else.

Blake, a South Fulton, Tennessee native, said he’d like to work at a gym in Martin, TN. He said he’s always wanted to go to Murray State.

He said, “getting to know all the staff and everybody else” was his favorite part.

Blake’s parents said they couldn’t feel more blessed to see their son able to walk across that stage and become a lifelong racer.

Only four schools in the state of Kentucky have this program. Arant said there will be 4 students in Murrays’ CTC program this August. For more information on the program, please contact Pam Matlock at

Related Articles

U.S. to sell $1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia The Trump administration is signing off on selling more than $1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visits the United ...
Cheering on UK Wildcats in NCAA Basketball Tournament UK Wildcat fans are wearing their best blues to support their team during Thursday night's game.
Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus dies Charles Lazarus, who founded Toys R Us 70 years ago, died Thursday, a week after the company announced it will be forced to shut down its U.S. operati...
State police confirm investigation into McCracken County PVA office There is an open investigation into the McCracken County Property Valuation Administrator's Office, Kentucky State Police confirms Thursday.