More than 700 Ozarks Technical Community College graduates walked in the 2017 commencement held Thursday, May 18 at JQH Arena on the Missouri State University campus.
OTC conferred 3,097 degrees and certificates to graduates this year, which includes students who have completed, or are pending completion of, their course work from the summer 2016 semester through the spring 2017 semester.
Actress, writer and producer Dana Powell gave the evening’s commencement address. The Springfield native attended Hillcrest High School and OTC before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in theater from Missouri State University. Currently based in the Los Angeles area, Powell is best known for her role as Cameron Tucker’s sister on the ABC sitcom, “Modern Family.”
During her speech, Powell encouraged the graduates to celebrate their accomplishments and embrace their mistakes.
“Failure is just another step toward your success,” she said. “The reality of life is that you are going to fail, but how you choose to define that word will determine your future success and happiness.”
OTC also honored Andrew Hedgpeth as the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. Hedgpeth, the vice president of human resources at CoxHealth, earned his Associate of Arts from OTC before graduating from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in business administration. In his current position at CoxHealth, Hedgpeth oversees the planning and implementation of human resources programs for the health system’s 11,000 employees and 600 physicians.
“Andrew’s professional accomplishments serve as a testament to the college’s mission,” said OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon. “When we, as a community, invest in our students through educational opportunities, we see these students invest those learned skills and talents back into our community.”
Hedgpeth, an inaugural recipient of the A+ Scholarship program, credited much of his success to the education he received at OTC.
“It was a way out of poverty for me,” he said. “I am living proof that when individuals and institutions invest in someone, doors can open for that individual in ways never before imagined.”
To conclude the ceremony, Chancellor Higdon congratulated the graduates and welcomed them into the OTC Alumni Association.