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I have always believed that if you have faith, God will lead you to the path you are meant to travel. One of the best examples of God’s direction in my life was when He led me to Alice Lloyd College (ALC).

I am a Knott County native and my father, Gary Click, attended ALC before me. While in hindsight, it seems like ALC was always the perfect fit for me, the seventeen-year-old version of myself was not initially convinced. In order to become more independent, I thought I needed to attend a school in a larger city, away from all that was familiar.

Following high school, I narrowed my college selection down to ALC and one other college. When I attended freshman orientations that summer, I immediately knew that the other college was not for me, while ALC felt like home—in a very good way. I eagerly enrolled at ALC and never regretted the decision for a second.

ALC provided me with a first-rate, well-rounded education. I was a History Pre-Law and English double major, with a Business minor. All of my professors were wonderful and that explains, in part, why my education covered multiple fields. I couldn’t pick just one! All of these classes prepared me well for the next stage of my life—law school. I always felt that the teachers at ALC took a special interest in helping me achieve my childhood dream of becoming a lawyer— whether it was providing a recommendation for law school, helping me apply for postgraduate scholarships, or answering my frequent questions. One of my business instructors, Dr. Jerry Slone, even took a group of us to tour law schools. I am convinced that God led ALC’s faculty and staff to Caney Creek, where they could guide and mentor students like me!

While attending ALC, I learned so much both in and out of the classroom. The school’s Student Work Program instilled in me the importance of having a strong work ethic. Ms. Christine Stumbo, helped me to develop leadership skills when I served as a Resident Advisor (RA), and later as a head RA. I learned the importance of being part of a team and taking pride in my community. Most importantly, I became aware of what it means to be a servant leader. Incorporating these and the many lessons I learned at ALC continues to be an important part of my everyday life.  

As a member of the Voices of Appalachia, I was privileged to travel throughout the country performing and sharing the mission of the College with others. My self-confidence increased through my participation in events such as the Miss ALC Pageant. I was very excited when I won the title and was asked to represent the College at the annual Mountain Laurel Pageant, an event in which all Kentucky colleges are invited to participate. I was given so many opportunities to grow and share new experiences—all while only being a few miles from home.

Some of my fondest memories are from my days in Pippa Passes. I made lifelong friendships and most importantly met my future husband, Phillip “Smokey” Thacker (Class of 2004). Smokey is now a successful Independent Living Specialist with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services where he helps teenagers aging out of the foster care system prepare for their futures. His unwavering faith in me, optimistic spirit, sense of humor, and willingness to pitch in when I’m trying to juggle work and countless other activities, have helped make it possible for me to attain the success I have achieved. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without him and I know that God has led us exactly where He intended we be.

Upon earning my bachelor’s degree in 2005, I was awarded a Caney Cottage Scholarship. and was blessed to reside in ALC’s residence hall, located in Lexington, while a law student at the University of Kentucky. This was such a blessing because it saved me a huge housing expense (more than a year of law school tuition!). Today, when I recommend ALC to prospective students, I always make sure they know about the Caney Scholars program because it is such a wonderful opportunity when they are ready to pursue graduate or professional studies. In fact, I know of no other school that provides this kind of assistance to their alumni. 

Thanks to the opportunities and financial assistance I received from ALC, I was able to achieve my dream of becoming an attorney. Smokey and I now live in Betsy Layne, Kentucky, and I am the president and part-owner of my own law firm, East Kentucky Law Group, P.S.C., which is located in Pikeville. My practice consists of healthcare law, medical malpractice defense, and civil litigation. I’ve been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star for the past tw o years and was recently named a Spotlight Member of the Kentucky Defense Counsel. I attribute my accomplishments to hard work and perseverance, two qualities that were instilled in me at ALC.

In addition to my successful legal practice, I am also involved with a number of other activities. I serve on the Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors and currently chair the Young Lawyers Division. I am also a member of the Kentucky Bar Foundation which, on average, gives out over $200,000 in grants annually to help Kentucky non-profit initiatives. I am especially passionate about a project for which I was a founding chair—the Kentucky Legal Food Frenzy. Now in its fifth year, this competition between Kentucky lawyers raises money and food donations through Feeding Kentucky. This campaign has raised over 1.8 million pounds of food (which stays in the area where it is donated) and provides Kentuckians with needed assistance.

As I reflect on my accomplishments and my life today, I am very thankful God led that seventeen-year-old girl to Alice Lloyd College. I received more than I ever imagined possible and now I am grateful that I can “pay-it-forward.”