More than 750 Ozarks Technical Community College graduates walked in the 2019 Commencement, held Thursday, May 16 at JQH Arena on the Missouri State University campus.
OTC conferred 3,244 degrees and certificates to graduates this year, which includes students who have completed, or are pending completion of, their coursework from the summer 2018 semester through the spring 2019 semester.
The ceremony featured Igho Ekakitie, OTC international graduate, as its student speaker. The Nigerian native graduated from high school in 2008 and worked for nearly six years to raise enough funds to pursue his educational goals in the United States. He enrolled at OTC in 2017, where he studied Biological Clinical Sciences.
“Just like me, you, too, journeyed to get here. It has been long, rough or exciting — and there are surely times you almost threw in the towel — but still, you never gave up, and here you are,” Ekakitie said.
While a student at OTC, Ekakitie worked as a student ambassador and joined Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for two-year colleges. In 2018, he served the organization as regional vice president for the Theta District. Outside of OTC, Ekakitie is a youth delegate to the United Nations Youth Assembly and volunteers at the Cox North ER in Springfield. Upon graduation, Ekakitie will apply for OTC’s Associate of Science in Nursing Program with hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner someday.
“Transformation is not a destination. It is an adventure accessible to all who dare to believe in it,” Ekakitie assured his graduating class. “This is just the beginning, now go and be the very best.”
Jennifer Moore, the news director and content coordinator for KSMU Radio, gave the evening’s commencement address. Moore previously worked in the Persian Gulf region as a freelance journalist contributing to CNN-International, NPR, and the largest English daily newspaper in the area. Today, she leads a team at Ozarks Public Broadcasting to ensure our community has in-depth news about the region, Washington, D.C., and the world.
In her speech, Moore urged the graduates to remember that they are now part of something bigger than themselves.
“You are the paramedics offering the rest of us life-saving care, the pilots taking us to the skies, and the computer programmers writing code that will lead us to the next great discovery.” she said. “So, from one citizen – who will no doubt benefit from the services you will soon provide to this amazing community – I thank you, and I look forward to seeing all you will do.”
Once the degrees and certificates were conferred, OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon concluded the ceremony by congratulating the graduates and welcoming them into the OTC Alumni Association.