Two eastern Kentucky men, years apart in age, have maintained an educational and professional career connection for decades. That connection was recognized at Eastern Kentucky University’s 2016 homecoming festivities.
Floyd County native Bertee Adkins taught Pike County native Kirby Easterling at Eastern in the 1990’s. Because of their common Appalachian background, a bond formed fast.
Easterling often went to Adkins for advice, including while making a professional decision about moving to Japan with his family. Adkins says he sees such interactions as part of a cycle of “pay-it forward” relationships beyond the classroom. “I wanted to do something for Kirby,” said Adkins. “Then he turned around and wanted to do something for somebody else and the ones coming up, the followers are gonna get the good of it.”
After a corporate career including more than a decade with Corning Incorporated, Easterling came back to EKU in 2014 to help establish a global supply chain management program. He says a student from Bell County told him she received affirmation from his life story, “She thought that now she may be able to do more because what she had seen me do as an Eastern Kentuckian.”
Bertee Adkins spent 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, taking classes at ten different colleges and universities, before teaching more than two decades at Eastern. Easterling graduated three times from EKU and has worked for multi-national firms in the automotive, electronics, and glass industries.