Nigel Holderby will never forget the events of July 8, 2011, that changed his life and his career forever.
Even today, as Holderby ponders the incident, the OTC graduate gets a hitch in his voice as emotions bubble up.
“That one event altered my future,” he said speaking for students in a speech he gave before 8,000 in attendance at the recent OTC commencement.
Holderby was seriously injured in an accident two summers ago while working as a paramedic on an ambulance that was hit head on by a dump truck traveling at highway speed.
Two people died in the accident and Holderby was severely injured. He underwent several surgeries for a severely damaged shoulder, arm and knee. His teeth were also damaged.
“I was left reeling psychologically. Reality changed dramatically that day,” he said.
The injuries would prevent him from returning to work as a paramedic so Holderby decided to enroll at OTC and earn an associate of arts degree. He plans to be a teacher.
“It didnt take long to figure out that the only way I was going to rebound would be through education. Taking off my public service helmet and putting on an academic cap would be a crucial step in my life,” he said.
At the time he enrolled, Holderby wasn’t sure what he wanted to do but he had been a trainer with the Springfield Fire Department for many years and taught a photography class for OTC’s Center for Community Enrichment Center.
“I really enjoyed teaching and history was of a great interest to me,” he said.
While at OTC, Holderby made the Dean’s List and joined Phi Theta Kappa. He became the honor societys president and regional vice president.
“I was able to connect with some truly gifted and influential educators,” he said.
During his commencement speech, Holderby urged his fellow graduates to continue on their education paths.
“Don’t ever stop learning. Whether you’re transferring to another schools or if you’ve receive a certification and will be immediately shifting to a job, please don’t let your positive educational experiences end here. Continue to soak up every bit of knowledge you can,” he said.
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