Mackenzie Harder of Martin has been selected as the Owens Community College class representative and will address the graduates during the 35th Fall Commencement ceremony. She is graduating with an Associate of Arts degree in Education Transfer Concentration and Summa Cum Laude honors with a 4.0 grade-point average.
She possesses an effervescent, caring and genuine personality and a heart dedicated to helping young people.
Harder, 20, grew up on a 500-acre crop and livestock farm just outside Genoa with her parents, Neil and Tracy; older sister, Lindsay; younger brother, Noah; and grandparents, Allen and Beverly Harder. Lindsay Harder is enrolled in the Registered Nursing program at Owens.
A 2013 Toledo Christian High School graduate, Mackenzie Harder originally started her higher education at Indiana Wesleyan University, majoring in exercise science. But she said she did not like the 4-year college's size. At home during Thanksgiving break, while pondering her future, she saw an Owens commercial on TV, and decided Owens was the college for her. She enrolled in January 2014.
She said she chose the education major because she wanted to "give other people the opportunities I've had in life. I want to help others flourish and reach their goals."
Of her Owens experience, she said, "I love it here. I feel right at home."
She mentioned Pam Chibucos and Elisa Huss-Hage as the professors who were most helpful during her time at Owens.
"Mackenzie not only went above and beyond in her classroom studies, but took her experience past the classroom to volunteer for Special Olympics," Huss-Hage said. "Observing her interact with and support the Special Olympic athletes solidified my already strong feelings that Mackenzie is a caring, empathetic individual and one who emulates what I think all Owens graduates should espouse to be. I know that she will be an excellent teacher."
In the summers, Harder works at SpringHill Camp in Evart, Michigan, where she started as a counselor and next summer will be a member of the resident staff overseeing and organizing operations. The camp offers faith-based activities and teachings for children in grades 1-12.
Before her next camp experience in 2016, Harder will spend three months in Cork, Ireland, working at a church teaching children and interning at a radio station.
In Fall 2016, Harder's goal is to be employed by a school district as a teacher's aide, supporting the teaching staff and making a difference in student lives.
View Commencement Speakers.
- View past Class Speakers.