David Lian flashed a wide smile after he received his Associate of Arts degree at OTC’s commencement. Lian was a happy graduate because he knew how far he literally had come to earn his honors.
A refugee of Burma, Lian left his homeland came after being persecuted as a Christian. Fortunately, his sister and brother were living in Springfield and after an exhausting, two-day trip, Lian arrived here from Malaysia in 2012.
“My brother and sister said it would be nice if I came here, so they sent for me,” he said.
While he knew little English at the time, Lian knew he wanted to attend college. He found OTC and had friends bring him to the college to enroll.
Once he started attending classes, it didn’t take long for Lian to make an impression on people.
“His amazing work ethic and his brilliant mind were evident even when his language skills were lacking,” said Karen Foresee, a member of the English faculty who had Lian as a student in her developmental writing course.
“Now, he has graduated from our Honor’s Program. This young man has a very, very bright future in our country and he started here at OTC.”
Lian found a love for two subjects: science and mathematics. As a result, Lian has his eyes on working towards an engineering degree. Depending on what financial arrangements he had make, Lian wants to attend either Missouri University of Science and Technology or the Colorado School of Mines.
Lian has enjoyed his time at OTC and in Springfield.
“Springfield is quiet and nice. I haven’t had time to make a lot of fiends. I’m either at work or at school,” said Lian, who works in the food court at the Battlefield Mall.
After gaining his engineering degree, Lian wants to stay in the area but eventually he’d like to go back to Burma to see where he grew up.
He might even make a return trip to OTC, where it all started.
“I really liked it at OTC. I explained my situations and they helped me through everything. They really helped me a lot,” he said.