Northwest State Community College celebrated the 2019 graduating class at its 49th Commencement Ceremony. The ceremony recognized 286 graduates who completed an associate degree or certificate program with the College during fall, spring or summer term, comprising a total of 323 awards (249 associate degrees and 74 short-term certificates). Dr. Cindy Krueger, NSCC vice president for institutional effectiveness and student services, noted that 91% of the graduating class lives in the six county service area of Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Van Wert and Williams Counties, and that there were 41 members graduating with honors – 12 cum laude, 10 magna cum laude and 19 summa cum laude.
Dr. Michael Thomson, NSCC president, congratulated the graduating class, noting, “I commend you for your dedication and persistence that have led to this remarkable achievement. You balanced work, family and other obligations in order to complete your education.” Thomson also noted a slight change in the events’ featured speakers, remarking, “This year, the commencement committee decided that the student voice would provide the inspirational address for our graduates.” Brittany Opsomer of Deshler, Ohio, and Mark Oliphant of Edgerton, Ohio, were the morning and afternoon featured studentspeakers.
Opsomer graduated magna cum laude with an associate of applied science in nursing and was president of Alpha Delta Nu nursing honor society and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. A young mother raising two small children apart from her husband, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Opsomer relayed the joy of completing this portion of the journey, noting, “I knew the distance (apart from her husband) was temporary and the reward of becoming an RN would be worth the struggle. This is the moment we have been waiting for, and we have become stronger from our sacrifices.” Opsomer, who was also selected to receive the President’s Outstanding Student Award in the morning ceremony, plans to continue her education at Indiana Wesleyan University in the bachelor of science nursing program.
Oliphant graduated magna cum laude with an associate of applied science in industrial technology, and was an All-Ohio Academic Team member, president of the NSCC chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and an Award of Merit recipient as the top graduate in the Industrial Technologies Division. Oliphant shared his story of substance abuse and imprisonment with the audience and how his determination helped him turn his life around. “I could have blamed everybody else and just dwelled on my failures, but I chose not to. I was determined to make things right, for not only myself, but for my family and become a positive influence in society,” he said. Oliphant then noted he is four years and eight days clean and sober.
Rachel Buell was named the President’s Outstanding Student in the afternoon ceremony. Buell graduated summa cum laude and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She earned a certificate in industrial maintenance and plans to continue her students in mechatronics. NSCC faculty members Marty Phillips and Pam Donaldson served as grand marshals for the morning and afternoon ceremonies respectively.