Approximately 700 Ozarks Technical Community College graduates walked in the 2016 commencement ceremony held Thursday, May 12 at JQH Arena on the Missouri State University campus.
OTC conferred 3,428 degrees and certificates to graduates this year, which includes students who have completed, or are pending completion of, their course work from the summer 2015 semester through the spring 2016 semester.
Jeff Houghton, Emmy Award-winning host of the local, late-night talk show The Mystery Hour, was the featured commencement speaker. The comedian’s message for the graduates was “keep not quitting.”
“The dream you have in your heart doesn’t come with a road map, it comes with a machete,” said Houghton. “Those surprises that life throws at you may feel like dead ends, but they aren’t. Just get out of your car, grab your machete, step into the forest, and hack yourself a new path.”
OTC also honored local entrepreneur Jennifer Smith of the Traveling Chef as the 2016 Distinguished Alumna of the Year. Smith, an OTC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management graduate, started her own catering business in 2004. Twelve years later, The Traveling Chef has been named one of the top caterers in southwest Missouri by 417 Magazine.
“Jennifer’s entrepreneurial spirit, as well as her incredible talent and work ethic, make us proud to call her an OTC alumna.” said Dr. Hal Higdon, chancellor of Ozarks Technical Community College.
Chancellor Higdon concluded the ceremony by welcoming all graduates into the OTC Alumni Association.