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OTC Holds Commencement Exercises

Okefenokee Technical College held its 2011 summer commencement Friday, July 22, 2011, at the Waycross Middle School auditorium. Dr. Josephine Reed-Taylor (left), deputy commissioner for the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), was the featured speaker.

Dr. Reed-Taylor brought greetings and congratulations from the TCSG staff. She assured graduates that education is a lifelong experience. Change is constant and brings with it opportunities to learn. According to Reed-Taylor, technical colleges in Georgia provide an education that embraces change. As a result, OTC graduates leave fully prepared to enter the workforce and/or continue their postsecondary education. Graduates can anticipate leaving OTC with a positive attitude about change. They also leave knowing the importance of getting along with others and having a superb work ethic.

The ceremony began at 7 p.m. with the processional of graduates, followed by the invocation and presentation of colors. Dr. Steve Pearce, executive director of grants and special projects, gave the invocation, and the Ware County JROTC presented the colors. Christy Markette then captivated the audience with her lovely rendition of the National Anthem.

Tara Eichfeld, OTC registrar, welcomed guests to the ceremony. She encouraged graduates to recognize those who helped them get where they are and congratulated them for meeting their educational goal. “Tonight you leave here as OTC alumni,” she said.

The 2011 OTC Georgia Outstanding Award of Leadership (GOAL) award winner, Ashley Tincher of Alma, spoke to graduates, applauding them for their persistence and success. Tincher, a criminal justice student, began with a saying: “The world is run by those who show up, not those who asked.” She went on to say, “Thank you for showing up.”

Tincher shared how OTC has changed her for the better. She explained how her career plans evolved as she grew more confident in her abilities and skills. She closed by encouraging graduates to continue to learn and push for what they want from life.

Following Tincher’s remarks, the audience enjoyed the talent of Ms. Markette once again, as she sang “I Will Remember You.”

President Thaxton then recognized special guests and OTC faculty and staff, for their work and dedication to students and education before introducing the keynote speaker, Dr. Josephine Reed-Taylor.

President Thaxton’s introduction included details regarding the Deputy Commissioner’s work at TCSG. In her current capacity, Dr. Reed-Taylor works with Commissioner Ron Jackson to oversee Georgia’s 28 technical colleges as well as the state Office of Adult Education and the Quick Start workforce development program. She joined TCSG in 2006 as the state director for adult education and was later appointed the assistant commissioner. As director for adult education, Reed-Taylor successfully reorganized the state Office of Adult Education to provide greater access and make more comprehensive services available to the more than one million adults in Georgia who do not have a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. Under her leadership, annual enrollment in adult learning programs increased by 13% between 2006 and 2008, while the number of GED graduates grew by 14%. Her work included the development and implementation of the nationally-recognized Georgia Adult Learning Information System (GALIS) for the collection, management and distribution of the state’s adult education program data.

According to Thaxton, Dr. Reed-Taylor has a successful 40-year career working as an administrator in post-secondary education in Georgia, Minnesota, South Carolina and New York. Before joining TCSG, she was senior vice president for academic and student affairs at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Other work experience includes positions in higher education as interim president, vice president for academic affairs, dean of instruction, and dean of students.

Josephine is a graduate of Spelman College and the University of Minnesota. She holds a doctorate in educational administration and a master’s degree in counseling and student personnel psychology, both from the University of Minnesota. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta. Other educational experiences include the completion of educational management institutes at Bryn Mawr College and Harvard University.

Following Deputy Commissioner Reed-Taylor’s message, Dr. Thaxton conferred upon graduates the applicable award of diploma and/or Associate of Applied Science degree. Then Thaxton; Danita Cannon, vice president for academic affairs; and Mr. Pete Pyrzenski, OTC board member, congratulated and awarded diplomas and degrees to participating graduates.

The following students satisfactorily completed requirements for graduation by either end of quarter winter 2011 or end of quarter spring 2011 and participated in commencement:

Atkinson County
Cassandra Adams, Early Childhood Care and Education

Bacon County
Maria Deen, Early Childhood Care and Education; Meaghan Easterling, Practical Nursing; Donna Franken, Practical Nursing; Jesus Gonzalez, Electronics Technology; Tracy Hyers, Practical Nursing; Pricilla Johnson, Practical Nursing; Tabatha K. Jones, Computer Support Specialist; Courtney Pennington, Early Childhood Care and Education; Roxie Smith, Practical Nursing; Benjamin J. Thomas, Electronic Fundamentals; and Mary Thomas, Practical Nursing

Brantley County
Kristian N. Butler, Practical Nursing; and Aaron R. Winters, Practical Nursing

Charlton County
Daniel Hinson, Air Conditioning Technology; and Alana Wiggs, AAS Business Administrative Technology

Jeff Davis County
Megan Silas, Radiologic Technology; and Michele Taylor, Practical Nursing

Pierce County
Deianna Black, Environmental Horticulture;  Susan R. Boatright, AAS Accounting; Kia Bond, Practical Nursing; Kimberly Copeland, Cosmetology; Darby Edwards, Cosmetology; Shaun D. Harris, Welding and Joining Technology; Freddie Herring, Electronics Fundamentals; Rachel Padgett, Business Administrative Technology; Ashton Poole, Practical Nursing; Jacqueline M. Wallace, AAS Accounting; Darrell Weeks, Criminal Justice; JoAnna White, Practical Nursing; and Jasmine Williams, Criminal Justice

Ware County
Richard Anderson, Forest Technology; Kimberly Barkley, Practical Nursing; Kellee Bennett, Criminal Justice; Shelly R. Bristow, Criminal Justice; Octavius Clark, Electronics Fundamentals; Shannon Conner,  AAS Criminal Justice; Destiny Daniels, Practical Nursing; Sherell DeWitt, Cosmetology; Victoria Drury, Practical Nursing;
Deidra Eason, AAS Accounting; Stephanie Fleming, Business Administrative Technology; Lloyd Freelove, Air Conditioning Technology; Emily Godwin, AAS Accounting; James Hampton, diploma and AAS in Forest Technology; Mellisa Jewell, Business Administrative Technology; Antionette Lewis, Business Administrative Technology; Andrea Mack, Accounting; Andrea Moody, Early Childhood Care and Education; Lisa M. Neloms, AAS Accounting; Rachael Nolan, AAS Accounting;
Coutiea L. Paulk, AAS Accounting; Rebecca L. Rollins, Early Childhood Care and Education; LaTheresa Sermon, Early Childhood Care and Education; Cara Sharpe, Practical Nursing; Anjanette L. Shaw, AAS Accounting; Elizabeth Velez-Hill, AAS Business Administrative Technology and AAS Accounting; and Brett Williams, Industrial Facilities Maintenance Technology

Wayne County
Candice Long, AAS Business Administrative Technology.

OTC Vice President for Economic Development Andy Brannen, on behalf of the OTC Student Government Association (SGA), presented honor pins to eligible graduates, signifying their outstanding accomplishment. Floral arrangements were provided by OTC’s environmental horticulture program instructor, Mark Deal. Neal Murphy served as Graduation Marshal, and Sondra Chapman was the pianist.

Photo 1

Photo 1:
Dr. Josephine Reed-Taylor (right), deputy commissioner for the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), was the featured speaker at OTC’s commencement exercises Friday, July 22, 2011. OTC President Dr. Gail Thaxton welcomed Reed-Taylor and introduced her to graduates and guests.

Photo 2

Photo 2:
Twenty-seven Ware County residents participated in OTC’s recent commencement: (Front to back - L to R): Row 1 – James Hampton and Rachael Nolan; Row 2 – Rebecca L. Rollins, Emily Godwin, Elizabeth Velez-Hill, Coutiea L. Paulk, Deidra Eason, Lisa M. Neloms, and Shelly R. Bristow; Row 3 – LaTheresa Sermon, Shannon Conner,  Mellisa Jewell, Anjanette L. Shaw, and Destiny Daniels; Row 4 – Andrea Moody, Victoria Drury, and Stephanie Fleming; Row 5 – Kellee Bennett, Cara Sharpe, Kimberly Barkley, and Sherell DeWitt; Row 6 – Octavius Clark, Andrea Mack, Brett Williams, Antionette Lewis, Richard Anderson, and Lloyd Freelove.

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