Dee King moved to Springfield as a teenage mother to attend OTC. Her experience was so positive that when it came time for her son to attend college, OTC was at the top of the list.
Fewer than 2% of teenage mothers graduate college by age 30. When Dee King heard that statistic, she knew she couldn’t do anything about being a teen mom, but she was determined not to become a part of the 98%.
Her son, Shane, was born in Dee’s hometown of Missoula, Montana, just before Christmas, during her first year at the University of Montana.
“Shane was a surprise, but the best surprise of my life,” Dee said. “Getting pregnant at 18 wasn’t the plan, but it gave me the deep motivation I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Looking for a fresh start, 19-year-old Dee and her infant son moved to Springfield in 2002, where Dee’s grandmother had attended Missouri State when it was a teacher’s college. They had family connections in town, but Dee and Shane lived independently. Dee worked remotely for her father’s law firm in Montana, doing legal assistant work and attending OTC part-time.
“I felt like the whole vibe at OTC was supportive and encouraging,” Dee said. “If Shane got sick and I couldn’t make it in to take a test or something, my instructors would make accommodations so I could keep moving forward with my education.”
Dee eventually transferred to Missouri State, where she earned a bachelor’s in business. She worked in the hotel and banking business until recently, landing at Burrell Behavioral Health as the chief of staff.
“In my role, I talk to many state government officials, and anytime I mention that I’m from Springfield, they mention OTC,” Dee said. “I feel that OTC is best in class for our area and has a lot of respect in the state.”
And now, a couple of decades after his mom walked through the doors at OTC for the first time, Shane King is wrapping up his welding degree.
“What I like about OTC is it’s allowed me to try and truly experience welding,” Shane said. “I’m on A+, so the financial risk is minimal, and I’m able to see if I want to pursue welding for a career.”
Shane has experienced the same personal care his mom did at OTC. One of Shane’s instructors helped him get a job at Holloway America, where he worked about 55 hours a week over the summer. After OTC, Shane plans to transfer to MSU to earn a bachelor’s degree. He may not work in a welding shop forever, but Shane intends to wield a torch for the rest of his life.
“I have a Mustang, and I’m building an exhaust system for it,” Shane said. “I might study entrepreneurship and start a business fabricating car parts and other products.”
Now, this multi-generational OTC family sings the praises of their alma mater to whoever will listen.
“When I was in school, my public speaking teacher was so proud to teach at OTC,” Dee said. “I remember thinking, ‘I’m getting a super high-quality education, smaller class sizes, and I’m proud to be here.’ I feel like there’s a lot of Springfield pride around OTC.”