Owens graduates, photo montage

Commencement Speakers
Spring 2015

Keynote Speaker

Randy Gardner

Randy Gardner, Keynote Speaker

Senator Randy Gardner is currently in his 30th year of serving Northwest Ohio in the Ohio General Assembly.  During this time, Senator Gardner has never missed one day of voting session in the House of Representatives or Senate, casting more than 9,600 consecutive roll call votes on bills, amendments and resolutions.

His leadership positions have included Senate Majority Leader and House Speaker Pro Tem.  A former high school history and government teacher, Senator Gardner has been honored with the Pioneer in Education Award from the Ohio Department of Education, the Washington Center Award for his work in support of higher education and the Andrew Carnegie Award from the Ohio Library Association. He became a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society in a ceremony at Owens Community College.

Senator Gardner received both his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and Master’s Degree in Political Science from Bowling Green State University. 

Today, he is a member of the Senate Education and Finance committees and chairman of the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee. 

Senator Gardner resides in Bowling Green with his wife, Sandy, an Owens Community College Alumna. They are the parents of three children; Brooks, who attended Owens Community College, Christina and Austin.

Class Representative

Ebony High

Ebony High, Class Representative

Ebony High of Toledo has been selected as the Owens Community College class representative and will address the graduates during the 49th annual Spring Commencement ceremony. She is graduating with a degree in Medical Office Support and Magna Cum Laude honors.

High’s charismatic personality was well known at the Downtown Toledo Learning Center on Monroe Street, where she was employed as a student-worker. She comforted and helped many students begin their Owens journey on the phone or at the welcome desk.

The 37-year-old embarked on a lengthy life journey before starting her own Owens education.

Primarily a stay-at-home mom for nearly a decade, she and her family left Toledo in February 2009 after her husband, Greg, lost his skilled trades job due to the economic downturn. They also lost their house. With Mr. High in search of employment, they moved to Atlanta and then Dallas where family and friends lived. But the skilled trades positions did not work out in either location.

The High family returned to Toledo to start over in December 2010. Mr. High opened his own tile and flooring business and Mrs. High wanted to support her husband, so she pursued administrative assistant degree options at Owens that would complement his business, enrolling in Fall Semester 2011. “We wanted to support each other as best as we could,” she said.

At Owens, she made an impact on the Owens faculty.

Teri Pratt, Associate Professor of Office Administration, said, “Ebony is an articulate, confident and conscientious student who (will) represent her graduating class well.” Michael Bode, Professor of English, added, “Ebony is a terrific writer and a very determined student.”

Growing up, High lived with her mother who struggled financially as a single parent to provide for her five children. But she emphasized she did not have a bad childhood. After her mother married High’s stepfather, together they provided a stable home for the family.

The 1995 Scott High School graduate spent two years at a local 4-year university before meeting her future husband, getting married and focusing her energy and faith on raising their three children, Draivon, 17; Domonic, 15 and Daneah, 6.

High acknowledges she has risen from financial hardship to middle class. She said she is thankful for her increased self-worth due to her Owens experience.

 “You don’t know that you are not educated until you are educated,” she said.

After Commencement, High will be looking for a job. She has applied for several office administrative positions. She also has considered returning to college and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work.