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OTC employees see what poverty is like

OTC employees got an up close and personal look at what poverty looks like in the Ozarks.

OACAC’s Poverty Simulation, brought to the Springfield campus by the colleges student services department, put OTC employees in the roles of low-income family members living on limited budgets and with other limited means of support.

Participants had four 15-minute sessions, each representing a week, in which they simulated real-life situations encountered by those living in poverty

Meghan Visor, program development specialist for OACAC, said the participants faced a number of challenges those in a low-income situation face everyday, including gaining help from social service groups, utility companies and schools.

“This simulation really doesn’t represent the lower end of the poverty line but the simulations are real, not a game”, she said.

Joan Barrett, OTC associate vice chancellor for student services, said the simulation provided OTC staff with an opportunity to walk the walk.

“We know intellectually some of barriers our students living in poverty face, but experiencing a bit first hand helped to galvanize some of the real challenges,” she said. “This exercise helped us to relate, on a very human level, some of the day to day challenges of some of our own students.”

Chelsea Taylor, an OTC admissions representative, said she was expecting the event to be more of a game.

“But as you’re getting frustrated with the simulated life circumstances, there’s a point where it registers that its an everyday struggle for many people in this community,” she said.

“As I got further into the simulation, feelings of desperation and hopelessness came over me .It was very difficult to deal with the time constraints and limited resources.”

Loren Lundstrom, dean of student development, said exercise demonstrated that poverty creates additional issues that have a snowball effect.

“They quickly escalate into insurmountable obstacles. For our college students living in poverty, a strong support network needs to be in place to ensure they succeed,” he said. “I’m confident we have that type of support across-campus at OTC.”

Visser said she’s sure the simulation got the intended message across to the participants.

“The struggles people go through are real,” she said. “The exercise usually opens some eyes.”

Steve Koehler is coordinator of media relations at Ozarks Technical Community College.


College Director of Communications

Phone: 417.447.2655


Steve Koehler

Coordinator of Publications

Phone: (417) 447-2666


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