Sewell puts students first, wants to grow institution

This is the seventh installment of a 12-part series profiling the representatives who make final University decisions.

Jenny Sewell already has a bright future planned for Murray State and she’s been a Board of Regents member for only a year.

Sewell said she is interested in several of the building projects the Board has planned, for instance the new library.

“I want to work to enhance educational opportunities at Murray State and make it the best campus in Western Kentucky,” Sewell said. “Right now, the economic gridlock is preventing growth in building projects, but as it eases progress will definitely be made.”

Sewell said she feels it is her responsibility, as well as the Board’s, to provide students with the best post-secondary education possible. She said the Board is constantly concerned with making sure students are prepared to enter the career field after graduation.

Sewell said Regional campuses, such as those in Paducah, Ky., and Madisonville, Ky., play a major role in University success. She said these campuses are unique to Murray State and reach out to the community in many different ways.

“Because of economic problems, (the Board) has been working to understand reviving the workforce in our century,” Sewell said. “The Board has been very supportive of these satellite campuses.”

Sewell said another aspect of college education she wishes to focus on as a board member is giving students the opportunity to understand the social needs in the work force.

These needs range from networking with others in the same field of study to being able to manage time.

“I think it’s so important not only to continue classroom work, but to develop ‘soft skills’ as individuals,” Sewell said. “When you look at economic development today, you see how important those are. Whether or not a student is prepared can determine if they get a job in the very competitive market.”

In 1974, Sewell received her bachelor’s degree in music education and her master’s in education two years later.

After serving as a school board member for 23 years, Sewell began working as a life insurance representative and real estate broker. She soon took over her family’s business and is currently the president and owner of Beshear Funeral Home in Dawson Springs, Ky.

“If I wasn’t prepared to take on a new role, I knew how to reach out and prepare myself because of my education,” Sewell said. “I call it moving laterally; you need to understand how to talk to people with experien­­­ces other than your own.”

Sewell said she stressed the importance of being educated in multiple areas even to her own children. Her oldest son has a degree in biology, but Sewell asked him to also become certified in mortuary science.

As a member of the marching band, jazz band, Sigma Alpha Iota and several other organizations, Sewell said Murray State helped her grow socially.

“I really enjoyed being involved at Murray State, even though it was different at the time,” Sewell said. “The University gave me the necessary resources to provide to my own community.”

Sewell said she intends to support the Board and help make decisions for Murray State students. She believes the students and their education are the first priority of the Board of Regents.

Story by Lexy Gross, Staff writer.