1996 Distinguished Alumni Recipient

I was at a place in my life where my career was going nowhere fast. Divorced with two children to support, I had to find a better way to earn a living. The work experience I had was not enough for prospective employers who wanted college graduates. I talked with my family and personnel at Okaloosa-Walton Community College. The same words were repeated time and again, “If you don’t go back to school, where will you be in two years? In a dead-end job with no formal education, that’s where!” With that thought in mind, I enrolled in classes to earn an Associate of Science Degree in Drafting and Design Technology. While attending classes, I spent at least 65 percent of my time with Manufacturing Technology faculty. The department instructors kept me up to date with the latest in technology and standards for the drafting industry. I learned how to be creative and to solve problems systematically. I was taught the older methods of drafting as well as the newer high-tech methodology. The main goal of the Drafting Department was to assure that I had the qualifications and formal education required to be a productive employee who would need little or no training time.

During my last semester, Mr. Ray Rickman, Department Chair, recommended me for a position vacancy at a local company. Excitedly, I polished my resume and gathered my best drawings into an impressive portfolio. I bought a new outfit befitting a professional, but I was petrified. I had been preparing for this moment for two years and was suddenly frightened. I was as afraid of leaving the very same school I had been afraid to enter.

Driving to the interview, it dawned on me that I had something to offer this employer – a college education. My confidence renewed, I walked into the interview with my head held high. I landed the job and worked at the company for over three years. In the interim, I qualified to be an adjunct faculty member at OWCC teaching Computer Aided Drafting classes. Teaching students the basics of drafting gives me as much satisfaction as the more arduous assignments. I love being able to give back to the students what OWCC gave me.

I am now the co-owner and Vice President of Coastal Computer Technology, Inc., a young, but growing company, with customers from Northwest Florida to New Jersey. Drafting and design, computer sales, service, and support are only a part of the company’s present and its future. In this ever-changing world, you have to grow and change with it or forever be stuck in neutral. OWCC has given me the ways and means to be a part of that growth and change.

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