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OTC graduates look to future
Keel: We must prepare our future workforce
Georgia Southern University president Dr. Brooks Keel was the speaker at Thursday's Spring Commencement for Ogeechee Technical College. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/Herald File

   A fire alarm briefly interrupted the ceremony but it didn’t take away from the pomp and circumstance of Ogeechee Technical College’s Spring Commencement Thursday night.
      More than 1,400 students were eligible to receive degrees, the largest number in OTC’s history. Thousands of friends and family filled Hanner Fieldhouse to celebrate with the more than 300 graduates who participated in the ceremony.
Georgia Southern University president Dr. Brooks Keel was the commencement speaker for the ceremony. He spoke to the graduates about the importance of a vocational education.
      “Vocational education removes all barriers - age, race, gender, class, disability,” Keel said. “We must prepare our future workforce for the realities of today’s hard economy.”
      OTC president Dr. Dawn Cartee offered her personal congratulation to the graduates, as well.
      “You have accepted the challenge of learning something new,” Cartee said. “I am sure that you feel exhilaration for what you accomplished and the knowledge and skills you’ve gained are your reward, something that can never be taken away from you.”
      Graduates of all programs at Ogeechee Tech were excited about their degrees.
Melissa Wilson, of Bryan County, earned her GED certificate Thursday night. She plans to attend classes at OTC.  She said that she hopes anyone who wants to earn a GED should take advantage of the OTC program.
      “If you’re out there and didn’t graduate high school, go back and do it. It’s all worth it,” Wilson said.
      One graduate, who only identified himself as “Tex,” said that he plans to try to open his own business.
      “As far as my degree goes, I’m trying to further my knowledge of automotive technology and I plan to open my own shop one day,” he said.
      Ashley Deason of Guyton earned a diploma in diagnostic medical sonography. Her brother, Brandon, earned a diploma in industrial electrical technology and a certificate of commercial wiring. Brandon said that he plans to continue to work for an electrician while Ashley said that she would be looking for a job.
      Keel offered advice to the graduates about finding their passion in life.
      “Remember that these skills will take you anywhere you want to go,” Keel said. “So, pack your bags and get on board with life. You’ve got a long ways to go. Just remember, there is no finish line.”

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