PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Over 490 Owens Community College students recently achieved their educational goals and now are ready to embark on their career endeavors as first responders, educators, scientists, health care professionals, technologists, musicians, skilled laborers and business leaders of tomorrow after receiving their degrees during the academic institution’s 31st annual Owens Community College Fall Commencement.
For 26-year-old Owens Honors graduate Betsy DeAnda of Clay Center, a radiography major, Fall Commencement represents the beginning to a new career as a medical imaging technologist.
“Graduating from Owens means that a new chapter in my life is starting,” said DeAnda, a Lake High School graduate, who previously worked in the banking industry. “It is really hard to put into words. This is an incredible feeling. My college education is providing the opportunity to start a new career.”
“I’ve accomplished my smaller goals that I set for myself when I entered college and graduating from Owens is the ultimate goal,” explained Brittany Jacobs of Luckey, a 22-year-old early childhood education technology major who is employed as a Toddler Lead Teacher at St. John’s Hilltop Dayschool.
Jacobs’ academic success is just the beginning for the Owens Honors graduate as she envisions continuing her education sometime in the future.
“My college education allows me to pass along my knowledge through teaching and I do not intend to stop learning,” said the Eastwood High School (Penta Career Center) graduate.
Retired President of Owens Community College Dr. Larry McDougle served as the keynote speaker for the College’s Fall Commencement and imparted some lasting words of advice for the graduating class.
“Each of you arrived at Owens Community College with a story to tell,” stated McDougle. “I encourage you to share that story with others who have aspirations of a college education.”
McDougle has amassed more than 40 years of experience as a faculty member and administrator in higher education, including serving as the fifth President in the 46-year history of Owens Community College.
During his tenure, McDougle worked tirelessly to reach out and engage faculty, staff members and students, as well as community and educational partners, with the purpose of advancing higher education for area residents throughout Northwest Ohio and beyond. Under his leadership, a scholarship program was designed for graduating high school students achieving academic excellence, and the College expanded educational opportunities with a Learning Center at Arrowhead Park in Maumee, as well as opened the doors to newly renovated Founders Hall and Heritage Hall buildings at the former Penta Career Center. Additionally, Owens opened a newly refurbished Welding Design Center, which features the latest in technological and academic resources specific to welding for several degree and certificate programs. On the Findlay-area Campus, a new wind turbine and solar array were unveiled as part of the College’s energy strategic plan of reducing overall energy costs by more than 20 percent.
Additionally, Terri Leary, a business management student, was selected as the Owens class representative and addressed the graduates during the Fall Commencement ceremony.
The Pemberville resident began her academic career at Owens with two online courses in January 2010. While she was enrolled in those courses, Leary lost her job as a compliance manager in which she helped seniors find affordable housing.
The 44-year-old did not lose sight of her passion of wanting to help others and chose to enroll as a full-time student at Owens with the goal of eventually working in a business setting that is committed to impacting the lives of others. Her hard work and dedication to her college education is evident in that this past semester alone she completed 24 credit hours of academic coursework. The 1985 Rogers High School graduate holds a 3.89 grade point average and also received the first-ever Owens Board of Trustees Certificate of Recognition for Exemplary Academic Achievement award.
In addition, Leary was one of 12 national finalists in the National Economics Insider Symposium and only one of two students honored from community colleges. She had the opportunity to present on improving the economy through providing prescriptions for senior citizens at the conference in Washington D.C. in front of a prestigious panel that included an Economics Nobel Prize Winner. Leary is also one of the national Jack Kent Cook Scholarship finalists, an honor reserved for students whohave a breadth of interests, work hard and demonstrate a strong will to succeed.
An Honors Scholar, Leary credits her success to the support of the faculty and staff at Owens, including Jeremy Baker, Dr. Russ Bodi, Dr. Catherine Pratt and Dr. Laurie Fathe. The support of her family was also a critical part of her success, including her husband, Ken and their children, Katie, Michael, Tiffany, Savannah and Matthew.
Leary’s commencement speech addressed her own personal journey through life and provided inspirational words for her fellow Owens graduates.
“Being at Owens, we have all been given opportunities to flourish and succeed. There is no question that we have all worked very hard to be here today,” she stated. “We have benefitted from top-notch faculty who have challenged our abilities and have prepared us for the professions that have chosen. We are no longer preparing for our careers. We are there. It is time that we go into the community and do what we have learned. It is time for us to make a change.”
After graduation, she plans on transferring to a four-year institution to continue working toward her bachelor’s degree and then her master’s degree within the area of business or human resources.
Owens Community College is an accredited two-year, state-assisted institution of higher education that has served Northwest Ohio since 1965. With a commitment to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability, the College serves the diverse academic needs of credit and non-credit students on the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, as well as at the Arrowhead Park Learning Center in Maumee and the Learning Center at The Source in downtown Toledo. Owens offers associate degrees that transfer to baccalaureate degrees in the Arts and Sciences and over 130 technical program areas in Agriculture, Business, Health Sciences, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Skilled Trades, and Engineering and Transportation Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor’s degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university. For more information, visit www.owens.edu.