Fall Commencement Awards 127 Degrees/Certificates

Northwest State Community College celebrated the December 2019 graduating class at its fall Commencement Ceremony on December 16 in the Voinovich Auditorium.  The ceremony recognized the awarding of 127 degrees and/or certificates to 122 students from the divisions of Arts & Sciences; Business & Public Services; Nursing and Allied Health; and Science, Technology, Engineering Technology & Math (STEM) and Industrial Technologies.  

Dr. Dan Burklo, NSCC associate vice president for academics, kicked off the ceremony with a note of celebration. Burklo noted that 82% of the graduating class lives in the College’s six-county service area of Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Van Wert and Williams counties, and that the grade point average of the class is 3.25.


Keetyn Ayers of Defiance was the student speaker. She graduates magna cum laude with an associate of applied business degree in business management and entrepreneurship. Keetyn is also an Award of Merit recipient, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Kappa Beta Delta, and the Dean’s Leadership Cluster.

Ayers shared a personal story of childhood hardship, but noted that once she hit rock bottom, she found her guiding light. “It is ironic how sometimes the most beautiful sunrise emerges from the darkest of nights,” Ayers said. Her emotional speech included heartfelt appreciation for her mother, grandmother and husband, and a congratulations to her fellow graduates.


The keynote speaker for this year’s commencement ceremony was Cecily Rohrs, former coordinator for the NSCC Center for Lifelong Learning. Rohrs graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor of science in education and taught speech and English for Paulding, Stryker and Archbold schools. She also worked at Sauder Village for 27 years, retiring as their director of public relations and marketing. “I am confident that the quality of the years ahead of you will be determined in large measure by your pursuit of lifelong learning,” Rohrs remarked.


During the ceremony, eleven students were recognized as Award of Merit recipients. Award of Merit recipients are chosen by faculty from the respective divisions based on leadership involvement, special talents or abilities in their academic field, and significant contributions to Northwest State. 

Award of Merit recipients included:

Arts & Sciences

  • Maxie Ratanasri, Associate of Arts; Associate of Science
  • Rachelle Wyse, Associate of Arts
  • Caleb Davila, Associate of Science
  • Kassidy Swanson, Associate of Science
  • Seth Brakefield, Visual Communications Graphic Design

Business & Public Services

  • Keetyn Ayers, Business Management
  • Jacqueline Sager, Office Administration

Nursing & Allied Health

  • Melissa Bowling, LPN to RN
  • Kimberly Clingaman, Registered Nursing

STEM & Industrial Technologies

  • Kyle Nicely, Electro-Mechanical Engineering Tech.
  • Scott Zimmer, Plastics Manufacturing Tech.


The College also recognized three individuals who were recently awarded emeritus status, an honorary title awarded for distinguished service to the academic community. The three recipients were Dr. Edward Singer, former Arts & Sciences faculty member; Dr. Von Plessner, former dean of business and business faculty member; and Philip McCartney, former Board of Trustees chair and member. Mr. McCartney was honored posthumously.

Dr. Singer began teaching at NSCC in 1986 in the Arts & Sciences Division, including serving as the lead sociology faculty. Singer played a crucial role in adding sustainability to the NSCC institutional learning outcomes and also coordinated student efforts to bring recycling to campus. In 2008, Singer was the recipient of the NSCC Distinguished Faculty Award, which recognizes individuals who exemplify excellence in teaching.

Dr. Plessner began teaching at NSCC in 1984 in the Business Division, including a variety of business courses on campus, as well as training topics at job sites in northwest Ohio. Plessner served as dean of business from 2007-2013 and led the division through the first specialized business accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Plessner received the Master Teacher Award in 1989, Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member in 2003, and the NSCC Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008.

Mr. McCartney served for fourteen years on the NSCC Board of Trustees, from 1997-2012. During that time, he served two terms as Board chair in 2002 and 2008. During McCartney’s tenure on the Board, he received recognition from the Ohio Association of Community Colleges and was awarded Trustee of the Year for his dedication to promoting community colleges in Ohio. In 2012, an honorary doctorate of technical letters was conferred upon Mr. McCartney posthumously by the NSCC Board of Trustees for his leadership, vision and dedication.