Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer
During a luncheon Saturday at Murray State, Kentucky’s Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton apologized for and sought to clarify the statement she made last week to the editorial board of Eastern Kentucky’s student newspaper, the Eastern Progress. The Kentucky Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, KBC-LEO, where she was the keynote speaker, gave her just the opportunity to do so.
Hampton told the Eastern Progress editorial board, “I would not be studying history, unless I have a job lined up.”
The end of Hampton’s speech was followed by a question and answer session, where a member of the audience asked Hampton to clarify her comments about how students should not major in history because it seemed she was dismissive of the major.
Hampton said she was not dismissive of history and that was not her intention to make history seem unimportant.
“Given the economic downturn, I would be studying something that would make me immediately employable right outside of graduation,” Hampton said.
Several audience members told Hampton there are jobs for history majors to pursue, such as business and law, and Hampton apologized for not realizing the jobs waiting for history majors.
She said engineers and computer majors are hired with fairly-high salaries, and during the economic downturn of the ’70s ,computer workers at her job were not let go.
“It was the first time I became aware of the advantages of being in a career field that was marketable,” Hampton said.
Hampton’s comment to Eastern Progress was similar to Gov. Matt Bevin’s comment in January.
“There will be more incentives to electrical engineers than French literature majors. There just will,” Bevin said. “All the people in the world that want to study French literature can do so, they are just not going to be subsidized by the taxpayer.”
Hampton spoke about growing up in a poor home in Detroit but with hard work pursued engineering. After graduation, she was offered two engineering jobs but declined, in order to enter the United States Air Force.
She was the first in her family to go to college in her family and claimed she would not be where she is today without education.
Hampton said she would like to see Kentucky become the home of entrepreneurship and a state of lifelong learners.
The proposed budget put aside $100 million for workforce development, but Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, said during the legislative update Friday that $75 million of the $100 million was federal money.
Hampton said she is determined to make Kentucky a place where things are made and manufactured and we need to train people to take advantage of these opportunities.
Hampton said she was in favor of expanding educational opportunities for students, but Bevin moved to cut 4.5 percent to higher education before June 30.
At the Kentucky Black Caucus legislative update, Kentucky state Reps. Jeffrey Taylor, D-Hopkinsville, George Brown, D-Lexington and Meeks, as well as Raoul Cunningham of the NAACP of Kentucky, gave a legislature update stressing the importance of education funding.
Each representative said he refused to cut education but said they want to restore $90 million for K-12 and $250 million for postsecondary education.
We will not sacrifice our teachers, students and Kentucky’s future, Meeks said during his part of the budget.
“I am in this race even though I am a reluctant politician because I really want to give back to private sector, but I am in this because I truly believe that Kentucky can just be something phenomenal,” Hampton said.