16May 2018 Graduation Hits 5-year High with 346 degrees and certificates awarded by Wendy Weichenthal (Marion) A total of 346 students graduated from Marion Technical College on May 12 with a degree or a certificate at the Marion Palace Theatre. This is the largest number awarded in the last five years and a 10 percent increase over 2017. “These students showed dedication and perseverance to get to their next degree,” said Dr. Ryan McCall, President of MTC. “I can’t wait to see what they will accomplish next.” These graduates range in age from 18 to 63 years of age and come from 20 Ohio counties as well as other states. They include 21 veterans and three College Credit Plus students who graduated with an associate’s degree before graduating from high school. Through the College Credit Plus program, high school students attend college at no cost to them. “It is phenomenal that these students are graduating with a college degree and no debt,” McCall stated. “In addition, more than 800 other high school students earned free college credit this year.” Keynote speaker John Metcalf, an MTC graduate who is now the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mid-Ohio Energy Cooperative, encouraged graduates to embrace life-long learning. While he uses the engineering and computer skills he gained at MTC every day, soft skills are just as important. “Embracing change, taking responsibility, and building relationships are three core reasons for professional success,” Metcalf shared. “Be quick to take blame, slow to take credit, and always take responsibility.” Student speaker B. Wetare Makilagi graduated with an Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. He was the top student in the sonography program. This nontraditional Marion resident earned his degree while working and raising his son. Makilagi’s parents valued education. Makilagi’s father died as he was starting college. The MTC graduation fell on his father’s birthday. This immigrant from Tanzania credits many people for helping him balance his education, his job, and his family demands. This includes managers who accommodated his class schedule, fellow students who pushed him to succeed, and the program director, Deb Myers, who encouraged him and challenged him. Student speaker B. Wetare Makilagi congratulates the class of 2018. As an African immigrant and one of the first male students in the sonography program, Makilagi encouraged students to reach out to others who are different. “Look beyond accents, skin colors, and differences to find the similarities we all share,” Makilagi said. “Speak out on issues that may not affect you directly, but may affect your neighbor next door.” Makilagi and the entire graduating class of sonography has already landed employment. The degrees were presented by members of the Marion Technical College Board of Trustees and the college deans in front of a packed house at the Marion Palace Theatre. Students were treated to a catered dinner courtesy of the MTC Alumni Association following rehearsal.