PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, Ohio, Tuesday, May 7, 2019 – 622 candidates for graduation, including 67 from the Findlay-area Campus, will receive their degrees during the 53rd annual Owens Community College Spring Commencement on Friday, May 10. 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.
Jennifer Gebes, a dental hygiene technology major with Summa Cum Laude honors, has been selected as the Owens class representative and will address the graduates during the ceremony.
The 1991 Fostoria High School graduate already has two certifications and a bachelor’s degree, completing the Pharmacy Technician non-credit certificate and Medical Transcription certificate from Owens and Applied Health Science bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University.
“She is a diligent worker and pays great attention to detail,” Beth Tronolone, Dental Hygiene Chair, said. “She is kind, caring and provides a high standard of care with her clinical patients.”
Gebes, 46, is a single mother to two boys, Brendan, 16, and Landon, 14, the youngest who had significant special needs in his early childhood years.
As an infant, Landon Gebes was exposed to a virus that caused encephalitis on the left side of his brain, which controls speech and language. Despite years of doctors’ visits and tests, a correct diagnosis was not made until closer to his 5th birthday. Some medical professionals suggested he would never speak. Gebes said she would not accept that outcome for her son’s life.
Gebes began working with a Ph.D. from Sylvania, who now works at the Cleveland Clinic, on behavioral replacement therapy, learning a picture communication system with positive reinforcement to in turn teach her son. She started with a picture of a cat and piece of candy. She said “cat,” and until her son said “cat,” he could not have the candy. It took eight weeks, working 50 hours a week, before he said that first word, “and then our world was open.”
Assisted by two BGSU graduate students, the learning evolved to the point Gebes immersed her son in a public school full time in third grade. Today, Landon speaks, reads and continues to learn with his classmates.
Her time freed up, Gebes returned to Owens to pursue an Associate of Science degree – a degree she said she was one class short of completing. She transferred the credits to BGSU for her bachelor’s degree, graduating with a 4.0 GPA and Summa Cum Laude honors.
Wanting a career that would provide for her sons, she applied to Case Western Reserve University’s master’s degree program for anesthesia. From a pool of 1,200 qualified applicants, she was one of 18 accepted. She lived in an apartment in Cleveland during the week and came home on the weekends for two semesters. But she did not complete the five-semester program, giving it up in 2017 because she said her boys needed her at home.
“For me, that meant coming home to Owens. I found a degree in dental hygiene that seamlessly adopted my bachelor’s degree and used my knowledge of head, neck and oral anatomy.”
Rodney Rogers, Ph.D., president of Bowling Green State University, will serve as the keynote speaker.
Rogers assumed the role as the 12th president of Bowling Green State University on February 23, 2018, after serving in the interim post since January 1, 2018. Prior to being named president, Rogers had served as provost and senior vice president since 2012 and, before that, dean of the BGSU College of Business since 2006.
Before joining BGSU, Rogers served as associate dean and director of academic programs within the School of Business at Portland State University, in Oregon. He has taught financial reporting, performance measurement and international financial reporting at various universities including Portland State, Case Western Reserve, Thunderbird: The American Graduate School of Management, and the École de Management at EuroMed-Marseille, in France.
Experienced in both academia and business, Rogers has a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University, an MBA from BGSU and a B.A. in music from Ohio Northern University. Before completing his doctorate at Case, he practiced as a CPA for 10 years.
Rogers is a former member of the Wood County Hospital board and currently serves on the board of directors of the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. In addition, he serves on the executive committee of the Regional Growth Partnership and on the board of trustees for the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.
For more information regarding Owens’ commencement ceremony, please visit www.owens.edu/commencement.