PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, Ohio, May 1, 2018 – 626 candidates for graduation, including 58 from the Findlay-area Campus, will receive their degrees during the 52st annual Owens Community College Spring Commencement on Friday, May 4. The ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Health and Activities Center on the College’s Toledo-area Campus.
Owens’ commencement ceremony is free and open to the public. Owens is asking graduates to share their celebration photos and updates by including the hashtag #owensgrad in their social media posts.
Nick Komives, Owens alumnus and Toledo council member at large, will serve as the keynote speaker.
Komives, a native of northwest Ohio, attended high school in Genoa. He went on to work as a community organizer while attending Owens where he received an Associate Degree with Honors. He is the recipient of the Toledo 20 Under 40 Leadership Award in 2016, Equality Award from Equality Toledo in 2010, Champion of Equality from the Toledo City Paper in 2016, and several other awards and commendations by various civil rights organizations.
As a community organizer, Komives has fought for the rights of teachers, workers, women, LGBT people and other marginalized communities. He most recently served as Executive Director of Equality Toledo.
Under his leadership, Equality Toledo grew in membership by four-fold. The city’s Municipal Equality Index Score by the Human Rights Campaign increased each year while he worked with the city to improve the inclusion of LGBT people. Most recently, Komives stood at the forefront in passing the country’s most comprehensive ban on conversion therapy, which was unanimously approved by City Council in February 2017.
Komives was elected council member at large in November 2017 and began his service on January 2, 2018. Although he is new in his role, he has already passed several pieces of legislation and resolutions.
Kelsea Scott Briceno of Toledo, a physical therapist assistant major graduating with Suma Cum Laude honors, has been selected as the Owens class representative and will address the graduates during the ceremony.
Scott Briceno, 26, graduated in 2009 from Bowsher High School where she demonstrated determination, toughness and resilience as a teen overcoming the near loss of a leg in a freak accident and receiving an athletic scholarship to play volleyball at Indiana Institute of Technology, a NAIA school in Fort Wayne where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy.
At age 12, the self-described Michael Jordan fan was playing basketball from a trampoline when a backflip trick shot ended with her leg hitting the rim, causing the trauma.
Doctors at the University of Toledo Medical Center originally considered amputating her leg, but Scott Briceno said her mother, Kelly Nova, begged doctors to consider other options. Doctors saved her leg by applying an external fixator system of pins, rods and clamps, which remained in place for six months. She was the first pediatric patient locally to receive the external pin system, which had a small percentage of succeeding. If it did work, the prognosis was that she would not walk again correctly, let alone play volleyball.
She began walking one year later. Another year after that, she was playing volleyball.
As part of the recovery process, she went through “hard core” physical therapy for 18 months. She said her work with physical therapists and PTAs led her to Owens for her chosen career.
“I realized I was lucky I got to play volleyball,” she said. “I started thinking, ‘Why did I get the opportunity?’ It was my physical therapy and my mom that really saved my career. So that’s what I wanted to do.
“I feel like I have a connection with my patients. I feel like I know what it feels like to have a diagnosis that could change your life. I can relate to my patients,” she said.
Scott Briceno impressed the faculty in the Department of Therapeutic Services.
“Kelsea is an outstanding student and leader,” said Tiffany Duran, Adjunct Faculty. “She exemplifies the pillars of Owens and academics.”
“Kelsea approaches all difficulties with a positive attitude and persists through negativity,” added Dr. Sara Burke, Instructor. “Her dedication to her education, profession and family are exemplary. She is a strong professional and represents the finest of the graduating PTA cohort.”
Scott Briceno met her husband, Reinaldo, while in college and he was playing baseball for Indiana Tech. The native of Venezuela briefly played minor league baseball. They have a son, Roman, 2.
Besides her mother, Scott Briceno said her father, Michael Nova, was one of the most significant influences in her life. He died unexpectedly the day after she learned she was nominated to be the Class Representative.
For more information regarding Owens’ commencement ceremony, please visit www.owens.edu/commencement.