There are thousands of OTC alum and former faculty and staff who can say, “been there, done that” when it comes to either studying or working at the college.
But as OTC marks 2015 as the 25th anniversary that voters created the college district, Susan Siemens stands alone.
Siemens is the only person on staff who was in the first graduating class and now works full-time for the college teaching political science in both seated and online classes. This is also not the first time she’s been interviewed for a story about OTC.
When OTC got it’s first accreditation that first year, the media interviewed Siemens.
“Back then, I didn’t know it could get much bigger,” she said about the college, which opened with about 1,000 students and currently boasts enrollment of more than 15,000.
Siemens came to what was then Heart of the Ozarks Community College in 1991 at age 38 after spending time in the Middle East teaching reading. When she returned to the Ozarks, she wanted to continue her education and chose respiratory therapy.
Classes were scattered at Cox North and Lincoln High School. Almost everything else on the current Springfield campus was a dirt parking lot.
Siemens took part in the first commencement exercise at Central Assembly of God, and then went to work at Cox and St. John’s hospitals. Later, she returned to school and got her masters in management and a PhD in education.
She came to OTC as an adjunct in 2002, teaching everything from geography to political science. She later became a full-time faculty member.
Siemens likes to share her unique status with her students.
“I’m the only one to be in the first class and to come back and teach,” she said.
“I can talk to the students here and tell them about where we had to go for classes and how we got our act together. We have more prestige now. Those who went before them really helped to make this a valid college. We’re not just a rag tag group. There’s a sense of pride of how we started out and where we are now.”
Steve Koehler is coordinator of media relations at Ozarks Technical Community College.