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On a cool, foggy, fall morning, Jacob Settles greeted the day early to feed the cows.
The cows are normally in the fields, but on this morning they're in the lots close to the Settles home in Washington County. Johnson grass and frost make a toxic combination for cows, he said, so they were brought in from the fields.
Settles, who majored in business management, is the third member of his family to graduate from St. Catharine College.
His mother, Charlotte Settles, graduated from here, as did his older brother, Jordan.
This trio of St. Catharine alums aren't just family, they're business owners.
Rising Sons Beef, a conception-to-consumption enterprise (as Jacob put it), is owned and operated equally by the mother and her sons. In fact, Jacob has been in the business since 2007 (long before he set foot on a college campus).
The Settles family, under the Rising Sons Beef name, sells freezer beef across the country. The cattle raised by Rising Sons are on the Settles' farm from birth-to-slaughter.
"They're on our farm and we know everything that's been done to them," Jacob said. "They're antibiotic, hormone and steroid-free beef. I can say that and I guarantee that because they've never left my farm and I'm the one handling the animals so I know that that's true."
The beef does leave the farm briefly for processing before it's distributed. The family sends it to Central Kentucky Custom Meats, a USDA-inspected plant in Casey County.
"That's the only time it's out of our hands. After it's been processed, we go pick it up and we'll deliver it to you," Jacob said. "The first time you technically have to touch it is when you walk to your freezer to see what you want for dinner."
Jacob said that Rising Sons guarantees the beef is USDA Choice.
"So you get a very, very good product," he said.
Jacob's dad, Jeff, ran the business in a similar fashion but on a smaller scale for about 30 years before he passed away. When he passed, the family kept the business going.
Jacob said selling beef is something he's known his whole life.
"Tobacco was what we did when I was growing up, but in 2003 (at the time of the tobacco buyout) I was 10 years old. The majority of my working life, this is all I've known," he said.
When he was nine-years-old, he and Jordan were given a heifer, he said.
"From then, we increased our own herd as far as that heifer would have a calf and we'd either sell it or keep it back and we grew that way through raising our own heifers. But when my dad passed away, we officially took over the whole operation in conjunction with my mother, all on equal thirds," he said.
His family took the tobacco buyout in 2003 and started selling beef on a larger scale in 2005. Jeff Settles passed away in 2007 and the company name was born in 2009.
As time went on, Jacob entered high school and continued with the business. He also got involved with a lot of extracurricular activities and earned 30 hours of college credit before he graduated from high school. As a result, Jacob has learned excellent time management skills.
Jacob said taking on so much was his own choice, so he had to learn how to get things done. Not much changed when he came to college and graduated in two-and-a-half years while running a business full time, earning membership in the Alpha Chi National Honor Society and serving on the planning committee of the first-ever Patriot Career Fair.
"I'm very task oriented," he said. "I don't waste a lot of time. A lot of days my lunch time consists of about 10 minutes whenever I can find it."
"Jacob has had to become an excellent time manager," Dr. Dave Donathan, professor of business management at St. Catharine, said. "As a fulltime undergraduate student as well as a full-time independent business man, he has to make the most of every hour. His ability to prioritize tasks and his self-discipline have enabled him to successfully fill both roles."
Planning has also been crucial for Jacob.
He set up his class schedule so that he was only on campus two days a week (sometimes three), which often led to long days and late nights at St. Catharine. It also meant choosing electives that fit into his schedule instead of choosing electives he just wanted to take.
While already operating a successful business, Jacob said he chose to pursue a degree at St. Catharine for a variety of reasons.
"Things change. Events happen. You don't know the future," he said. "I need an education as a back-up plan for one and secondly you never stop learning. The day that you stop learning is when we go out of business or something else has to change."
His presence at St. Catharine College has benefitted Rising Sons Beef and the classes he has taken.
"I've been able to use some of the courses that I had at St. Catharine to implement certain decision-making skills, to use certain concepts within the business that I didn't have previously and implement those," he said.
"He sees first-hand how theory works when applied in real world," Donathan said. "This experience has also allowed him to provide an outside perspective to class discussions which enables students to better understand the difference between 'what should happen' and what actually happens when the theoretical and the actual collide outside the classroom."
Jacob officially graduates in December with a business degree. From there, he'll continue with running Rising Sons Beef with his mother and brother.
Rising Sons Beef can be found on Facebook or contacted via phone at (859) 262-5166 or (859) 805-0724. Rising Sons has shipped beef all over the country including Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, Indiana and, as he put it, from Paducah to Pikeville.
St. Catharine College professor Dr. Becky Meadows will be the first featured author of the college's spring author series.
Meadows will be speaking about her new book, Damnation in Matthew Lewis's The Monk: A Hermeneutic-Phenomenological Approach.
"I worked with Cambria Press for two years on the book, but there are probably two additional years of research and writing involved in it. It's actually a revision of my doctoral dissertation," Meadows said.
The English professor said she fell in love with hermeneutic phenomenology in relation to Gothic literature, art and film when she was a Ph.D. student at the University of Louisville.
"I have loved Gothic and horror since I was a child and my older brother and I watched the Universal Monsters films such as Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc.," Meadows said. "Hermeneutic phenomenology is really a type of philosophy, and I was bitten by the philosophy bug when I began taking philosophy courses at the University of Louisville. My studies in culture concentration for my Ph.D. included 18 graduate hours in philosophy."
Meadows will speak on the second-floor mezzanine of the Emily W. Hundley Library on Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
The event is sponsored by the Emily W. Hundley Library, rtl3 and Alpha Chi. Planning is underway for additional authors in the spring series.
The Kentucky Mu chapter of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Scholarship Society earned Star Chapter honors for 2013-14.
According to a letter from Lara Q. Noah, director of operations at Alpha Chi, St. Catharine College's chapter was one of 47 out of nearly 300 institutions that met the criteria.
"This award recognizes your institution's important role in Alpha Chi and its support for the ideals of the society," Noah wrote.
According to Noah, the criteria for earning the distinction include inducting members locally, sending at least one faculty sponsor and one student member to the annual convention, having at least one student presentation on the convention program, nominating at least one student for a national Alpha Chi fellowship or scholarship and sponsoring at least one on-campus program in promotion of scholarship.
"Clearly your leadership of Alpha Chi affects individual students and your campus academic community," Noah wrote.According to the Alpha Chi website, the organization is a national college honor society that admits students from all academic disciplines. Membership is limited to the top 10 percent of an institution's juniors, seniors and graduate students. There are approximately 300 chapters, located in almost every state and in Puerto Rico, which induct more than 12,000 members annually.