Owens graduates, photo montage

Commencement Speakers
Fall 2014

Keynote Speaker

Chrys Peterson

Chrys Peterson, Keynote Speaker

For 20 years, Chrys Peterson was the face of WTOL news, anchoring the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. In 2014, the Ohio Associated Press recognized her tenure and influence by inducting her into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Peterson grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. She attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. In 2012, she earned her Master of Organizational Leadership from Lourdes University.

Peterson is active in the community, including breast cancer awareness initiatives. Since 1995, she has served as Honorary Chairperson for the Northwest Ohio Komen Race for the Cure for Breast Cancer, helping the event grow from 600 to 20,000 participants. She also spearheaded a campaign called "Friends for Life" that encourages monthly self-breast examination. She won two prestigious Emmy Awards for Community Service for her breast cancer awareness campaign.

She has served on the boards of Northwest Ohio Komen for the Cure, The American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish and The Greater Toledo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. She also works with nearly a dozen other organizations.

Peterson was recognized by the State of Ohio for a regularly produced news segment called "Home for Keeps," featuring a child or sibling group waiting to be adopted. The program helped find adoptive families for hundreds of foster children in Lucas County and raised awareness about the need for adoptive and foster parents in the community.

She has received many honors and awards for community service and is a two-time recipient of the distinguished Jefferson Award because of her extensive involvement in the Toledo community. Peterson is a Lifetime Girl Scout Member.

In addition to receiving two Emmy Awards for community service, Peterson received an Emmy Award for reporting and three "Best Newscast" Emmy Awards. She received four coveted Edward R. Murrow awards for journalism and several Associated Press awards.

In February 2014, Peterson retired from television news and opened her own consulting firm.

Peterson's husband, Tom Runnells, is the bench coach for the Colorado Rockies baseball team. They have one daughter, Riley, who's 14.

Class Representative

Christina McCullough

Christina McCullough, Class Representative

Christina McCullough of Liberty Center has been selected as the Owens Community College class representative and will address the graduates during this evening's 34th Fall Commencement Ceremony. She is graduating in Quality Assurance with Summa Cum Laude honors.

McCullough, 35, remembers first visiting the Toledo-area Campus when she was a teenager, receiving a tour from her cousin, Theresa Wilkerson King, who was enrolled in the Registered Nursing program. King graduated in December 1998 and was the student speaker at the Registered Nursing Pinning Ceremony.

"Spending time with my cousin meant the world to me. I always looked up to her," said McCullough, who also received encouragement from King about the importance of college.

McCullough first enrolled at Owens after graduating from Toledo Whitmer in 1998, but left a year later when she encountered financial barriers. Not long after leaving Owens, she met her future husband, Mark. They now have been married for nine years and have two daughters, Maia, 7, and Alana, 5.

McCullough thought about returning to college, but was never sure it would happen as she worked demanding jobs that required overtime hours, first at Northwest Ohio Developmental Center and then at Valvoline. She left the workforce when her children were born.

She was inspired watching her older sister, Rebecca Vore, enroll at Owens and then graduate in May 2013 with an Automotive Technology degree. Vore had been a stay-at-home mom for more than a decade. Vore attended McCullough’s meeting with an advisor upon returning to college. "Her support meant a lot to me," she said.

She resumed Owens classes in August 2010, first wanting to go into the Physical Therapist Assistant program and then the Sonography program. She looked at other possibilities, discovered the Quality Assurance program, and "fell in love."

While attending Owens, she cared for her mother whose two-year battle with COPD ended in May 2013. "I felt like if she could fight this hard, then so could I. It seemed like a balance; I motivated her by doing well in school and in life in general and she did the same for me."

Louis Masney, adjunct faculty member in the School of Business, Information and Public Service, nominated McCullough for Commencement class representative along with colleague Paul Bean. Masney wrote in his nomination that "Chrissy is a model student. She is a very pleasant, bright young lady. She comes prepared for all classes, attendance is perfect, all assignments are completed on time and thoroughly prepared. As a mother of two young children intent on furthering her education, she could be the poster student for the community college purpose."

McCullough is the recipient of The Rich Harmon Memorial Scholarship and the 2014 George H. Barrows Master Scholarship by the Toledo Section of the American Society for Quality.

After graduation, she will pursue a job with her Quality Assurance degree, and will eventually seek a bachelor’s degree. In the coming years as her daughters grow older, she plans to share the importance of a higher education – just like her cousin did for her.

"I want to make it so my kids go to college and strive for these achievements," she said.