By Steve Koehler
It may have taken William Huitt 40 years to get his accounting degree but he said the wait was worth it.
“I just did it for me,” said the 69-year-old Springfieldian, who was one of 421 at Ozarks Technical Community College students who participated in Thursday night’s commencement exercise at JQH Arena.
A total of 1,222 students graduated between the summer 2008 semester and the summer 2009 semester.
Huitt, a retired office administrator with a local uniform company, said he decided to return to school after a 40-year hiatus.
“I wasn’t looking for anything particularly special. I was just determined to do it. It’s a very special day for me,” said Huitt, who had family from California and Vermont in the audience to watch him receive his degree.
Thousands of family members and friends filled the arena to watch the graduates receive their degrees. With some wearing mortarboards that read: “I did it!” or decorated with the outline of a giant tooth, graduates were greeted with cheers, blaring air horns and shouts of jubilation from the audience.
Jasmine Whittler, who received her associate of arts degree, will be heading of the Missouri Highway Patrol Academy now, where she will train for six months to become a patrol officer.
“I came to OTC because I didn’t have much money. This is a great place because you get to know the teachers. It’s great to be finally done,” she said.
Kurtis Ratliff, who received his technical degree in Electronic Media Production, said he decided to come to OTC because of its reputation for offering “hands-on” programs.
“Other colleges like to talk theories but here you can pout your hands on the cameras and computers. It was a great experience,” said Ratliff, who already has a job at a local television station.
The graduates and audience heard an inspiring speech from Dr. Robert Spence, longtime president of Evangel University, who told the graduates that despite what’s going on around them right now, “there is hope. There is hope for you.”
“There’s hope for people willing to recognize the possibilities and who reject what I would call genetic determinism. That is to say, ‘Well, nobody in my family has ever done that. I cannot do it either.’ Each of you represents a unique story. You need to remain committed and faithful to your goal.”
Lena Culp, vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, told the audience that many of the graduates had to juggle school, work, a family and other duties while working through school.
“We learned to lean on those we hold dear,” she said. “Many of those people are here today to share in that celebration.”
Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College.
College Director of Communications
Coordinator of Publications
Phone: (417) 447-2666