(Marion) In a heartwarming event, Marion Technical College recognized five alumni for making a difference in their fields and their communities. These MarionMade! graduates have made a positive impact. Pat Case, Terri Martin, Kathie Seckel, Dr. Deborah Shields, and Tom Stotts were honored in a packed event on the Marion Campus.
Pat Case was in Marion Tech’s first graduating class in 1973. She used her degree to open Great Impressions Interiors in 1991. Jean Obenour describes her as having drive, discipline, talent, grace and an excellent reputation. “She is a class act,” Obenour states. “She has been able to adjust and adapt and that is a great quality more business owners don’t understand.”
Case has done design projects as far away as St. Croix and Grand Cayman. As a consultant for Buckeye Valley Schools, her work was part of a national award. Her work has been featured in Ohio Magazine and Log Home Monthly.
In addition to her professional success, Case gives back to the community. She is a founding member of Community Business Connections and is currently its president. She also is an executive board member of 100 Women Who Care and is on the board of Downtown Marion Inc. She is a volunteer for the Explor-It-Torium, the new children’s museum.
Obenour said that when she and Case were starting businesses, the environment was not friendly to female entrepreneurs. They supported each other and helped start the Women’s Business Council. Decades of work haven’t dimmed their passion for business. Case said that while many of her contemporaries are retiring, she is still having fun and loves what she does.
Terri Martin graduated from MTC in 1996. She has worked at the college for 29 years and is currently the Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Technical and Professional Programs. Martin started as an evening receptionist in 1988 and went to get her Associate of Applied Business degree. She worked in MTC’s Center for Workforce Development (CWD) for many years. Martin helped coordinate a degree and certificate program at Whirlpool to help associates get degrees and advance their careers. During her time in the CWD, she helped provide more than 1,300 non-credit and credit classes for 15,000 people.
Martin is also a past president of the local Women’s Business Council. She helped found the Learning Enrichment Institute (LEI) in collaboration with The Ohio State University at Marion to provide education for seniors.
Nominator and coworker Krista Mulvaine said, “Terri is a great advocate for student success and frequently counsels students who may be having trouble navigating the college experience personally to encourage them to stick with their career goals. She directs them to student services to help them overcome their challenges.”
Former engineering dean Jay McCreary said that Martin was invaluable to MTC and helped create programs and serve hundreds of local businesses.
Martin said one question: “Have you thought about going to college?” changed her life and the lives of her children. She graduated from MTC at 33 years old. One of her sons, a veteran, is now in the MTC engineering program.
Kathie Seckel is a financial representative with Modern Woodmen of America. She graduated in 2001. She worked as the director of Berean Preschool & Daycare for 14 years before starting a career with Modern Woodman. From the beginning, she excelled and received national recognition from Modern Woodman for her outstanding accomplishments. She received the Career Development award in her first year, has qualified for the Century Club for three years for business growth, and was selected for national conferences.
Nominator and colleague Roger Ruth states, “Kathie always says that the best part of her jobs is that they both have given her the opportunity to build relationships and give back to the community. She has been a big part in helping our local Modern Woodmen team give back $300,000 per year in central Ohio to organizations and families in our community.”
Seckel is a current president of the local Women’s Business Council and the Stephen J. Chaney VFW 7201 Auxiliary. She is a member of the Marion Rotary Club and a member of the R.T. Lewis Fellows which helps the Rotary Club donate more than $50,000 annually to local charities and projects and $17,000 to provide scholarships to local students.
Seckel said she started at a 4-year college and found it was not the right fit. She appreciated coming to MTC. She said some key instructors made a difference, including LeaAnna Harrah, Pat Fox, and Mike Stuckey. “Mike treated us like adults,” she said.
Deborah Shields came to MTC in 1973 in the first nursing class. Shields was an LPN working on her associate degree in nursing (RN), which was new and focused on holistic nursing. She married a fellow nursing student in the MTC program, David Shields.
“Deborah credited the MTC nursing program as giving more than she needed to continue her quest for even higher learning,” said Mary Ann Dickman, retired MTC nursing professor. Shields continued that journey and is now a PhD, MS, RN, BSN, Advanced Holistic Nurse, Qualified Therapeutic Touch Teacher, and a Certified Critical Care Nurse. Shields is now a Professor of Nursing at Capital University and a perioperative staff nurse at OhioHealth Doctor’s Hospital.
Dr. Shields and Dr. Sharon Stout-Shaffer collaborated to develop Holistic Self-Development model. In 2009 all Capital Nursing programs received endorsement from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation. Shields was awarded the Mid-Ohio District Nurses Association’s Expert in Nursing Care Award.
“MTC is where I learned what it was to be a nurse,” Shields said. She stated that Dickman taught her to be present with her patients, to use her heart as well as her skill, and to be courageous in tough situations.
Tom Stotts, Chief Probation Officer with the Marion Municipal Court, was also inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. Stotts was nominated by Greg Perry, MTC’s Director of Criminal Justice and Law, and his former instructor, Robert Chidester, Professor of Criminal Justice.
“Tom has an excellent reputation in the Criminal Justice community and with his clients of honesty and professionalist. He has a strong work ethic displayed by his educational and professional advancements and works to achieve his goals,” Perry stated.
Stotts volunteers in the community for a number of causes. He has volunteered for Contact Care-Line for more than 20 years. He also volunteers for Marion Matters, and various state and local groups including the offices with the Ohio Chief Probation Officers Association. He was the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Civilian employee of the year in 2000.
After getting into the criminal justice field, Stotts had an offer from Judge Ballinger to work in the courts but he needed a bachelor’s degree. Stotts took advantage of MTC’s transfer agreement with Franklin University. Stotts was able to take most of his classes at MTC and graduate from Franklin. Stotts says that without MTC to provide access to higher education, he is not sure where his life would have lead.
The inductees were chosen by a committee outside the college. Nominations will be solicited next fall. More details on the criteria here.