22May Nearly 400 students graduate from Marion Technical College by Wendy Weichenthal (Marion, Ohio) – Marion Technical College awarded 470 degrees and certificates to 399 students on May 11 at the Marion Palace Theatre. These graduates ranged in age from 17 years old to 61 years old. They came from 24 Ohio counties and three states. They include nine military veterans and 10 high school students who received associate’s degrees at no cost to them or their families before they graduated from high school. This saved them at least $108,000 in tuition in addition to books and fees. Guest speaker U.S. Senator Rob Portman stands with the high school students graduating from MTC with their associate degrees. “Our students worked hard to get to their next goals. We are so proud of their accomplishments,” said Dr. Ryan McCall. “These alumni will be going in our communities to serve as nurses, police officers, cyber security technicians, and social workers or transferring to continue their educations.” These graduates ranged in age from 17 years old to 61 years old. Student speaker Carrie Piliero of Columbus juggled working full-time, attending college full-time, and parenting full-time. She found support from her family and friends as well as from her advisor, professor and program director. Piliero said MTC faculty Luann Wilkinson, Josh Line, and Lori Makilagi represented the gold standard of professors as they listened and encouraged her. Faculty member Lori Makilagi, left; Carrie Pilierio, student speaker, center; and Josh Line, Director of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Piliero played lectures on her drive from Marion to Columbus. She studied while standing in line at the grocery store. Her family helped support her and her children to get to graduation. Other classmates helped study, reminded her of assignments due dates and shared notes. “It took me a while to figure out my passion. Occupational therapy is perfect for me. Helping people has always been a part of what I wanted to do,” Piliero said. Piliero was offered a job in her field as occupational therapy assistant prior to graduation. Keynote speaker Jean Obenour graduated from MTC in 1985. She took one class at a time while working and expanding her family. She tells the graduates their success today is the start of something great. Obenour had a dream of starting her own business. She founded Custom Professional Accounting and in 25 years has 9 employees. U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, guest speaker at graduation, said MTC makes college affordable and the degrees position graduates to get some of the 146,000 open jobs currently in Ohio. “MTC is a huge opportunity to graduate without student debt,” Portman stated. Jena Baum is excited to graduate MTC with no debt. One of those debt-free graduates is Jena Baum from Sycamore, Ohio. At 20 years old, she was also offered a job at Kalbauch Feeds before she graduated. The graduate with her Associate of Applied Business in Agribusiness is the fifth generation of farmers in her family. “MTC was affordable. I will graduate debt-free which is amazing, especially with scholarships. It was awesome!” Baum declared. Baum appreciated being able to commute to MTC so she could continue helping on her family farm. She also found MTC a supportive environment. “It’s a great program to get in to. Everyone’s willing to help. If you need help with something, you can get it. The advisors were very helpful, especially with working with my schedule,” Baum said. Find additional photos and wish the graduates well on MTC’s Facebook page. Since opening its doors 47 years ago, more than 50,000 local residents have walked through the doors to learn new skills, earn new certifications and degrees, and open up new career and educational opportunities. For more, go to mtc.edu or call (740) 389-4636.