Southeast success story: Mark Lane

Published 11:16 am Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The downturn in the coal industry has many former coal miners looking for other ways to support their families. Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College can provide an avenue to help them achieve that goal.

According to SKCTC Public Relations Director Amy Simpson, former coal miner Mark Lane is one of those who have taken advantage of the opportunities at the college.

Simpson explained Lane is a fifth generation coal miner who was displaced due to the downturns in the coal industry.

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“He had a family to support, so he reinvented himself,” Simpson said. “He’s now preparing for his boards, and he has graduated from our LPN program.”

According to a press release, Lane’s story is not uncommon throughout the region. Approximately 900 Harlan County employees have lost their jobs over the past eight years as a result of the declining coal industry.

However, the navy veteran and his high school sweetheart Misty — a stay-at-home mom — had four school-aged children and wanted to stay close to friends and family.

“I knew I had to find another way to make a living,” says Lane. “That’s what brought me to Southeast.”

Lane’s decision turned out to be a case of perfect timing: SKCTC’s LPN program was reopened last year after a four-year hiatus, according to the release.

“There is an increasing need for qualified nursing throughout our region, and we answered this need,” said Joy Pennington, nursing program coordinator.

The release states Lane is part of a national trend of an increasing number of men in the nursing field. The percentage of men in the profession has risen from two percent in the mid-1970s to almost 12 percent today.

Southeast has seen a 50 percent increase in men seeking nursing certificates and degrees in the past 10 years. Fortunately for Mark and others like him, the Paths to Promise program at Southeast gave him the support he needed to fulfill his goals.

It gave him the flexibility to work 30 hours a week on the Harlan Campus and to attend classes and clinical rotations.

“For the past year, I have seen Mark sacrifice so much to pursue his dream of becoming an LPN. I look forward to watching him go even farther in his education,” said Erica Farmer Miller, SKCTC Paths to Promise Success Coach.

“It was scary in the beginning (because) nobody likes change,” Lane said. “I thank God every day for this opportunity.”

Simpson pointed out Lane was not a traditional student.

“In his past, Mark…never saw himself as a successful student,” Simpson said. “However, he’s made all A’s in college in a highly competitive program that only accepts 30 students per year. We had hundreds, apply.”

Simpson pointed out Lane is a resilient person, an important trait for a successful student.

“He’s the kind of person who has a goal in mind and will do what it takes to achieve that goal,” Simpson said.

For more information about SKCTC’s Nursing program, contact Joy Pennington at 606-589-3096 or