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Published 5/9/03
613 Owens Community College Students to Graduate During Spring Commencement, May 15

A record 613 candidates for graduation, including 80 students from the Findlay-area Campus, will receive their degrees during the 37th annual Spring Commencement at Owens Community College on Thursday, May 15. The commencement will be at 7 p.m. in the Student Health and Activities Center on the College's Toledo-area Campus, Oregon Road.

James A. Hoffman, President of KeyBank’s Northwest Ohio District James A. Hoffman, President of KeyBank's Northwest Ohio District, will serve as the keynote speaker for the College's Spring Commencement.

"Owens Community College is honored to have such a well-respected and distinguished leader within Northwest Ohio's business community address our students, families, staff and faculty on this memorable occasion," said Gary Dettling, Owens Vice President of College Advancement. "Mr. Hoffman will offer the graduating class a unique perspective on the importance of a college education and how building on previous success will enable each person to realize their career aspirations."

Hoffman has been President of KeyBank's Northwest Ohio District since June 1992 where he oversees the company's Retail, Corporate, Trust and Private Banking Groups throughout Northwest Ohio.

KeyBank is a subsidiary of KeyCorp, which is headquartered in Cleveland. A Fortune 500 company, KeyCorp is recognized as one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services organizations with assets of approximately $86 billion. In Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, Key has over 60 branches and investment offices through its McDonald Financial Group. Among the many services offered by Key companies include providing investment management, retail and commercial banking, retirement, consumer finance and investment banking products to individuals and businesses nationwide.

Hoffman, who joined the former Toledo Trust Company in 1972 as a commercial loan officer, has extensive experience in retail and commercial banking. Prior to his appointment as President of KeyBank, the Fremont native served as president and CEO of the Northwest Ohio Bank of Wood County. He also has held positions as president of Trustcorp of Indiana, executive vice president of Trustcorp Inc. and chairman, president and CEO for Society Bank and Trust.

Actively involved in numerous community organizations, Hoffman currently is president of the Toledo Museum of Art and chairman of The Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Toledo and the Toledo Area White Paper Committee. He also is vice chairman of COSI/Ohio, the Stranahan Theater and the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, and holds board-level membership with COSI/Toledo, the Greater Toledo Urban League, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center and the Toledo Symphony.

A resident of Holland, Hoffman earned both his master's and bachelor's degrees in business administration from the University of Toledo.

Sara Ritter Sara Ritter of Oregon, an early childhood education technology major, has been selected as the Owens Community College class representative and will address the graduates during this evening's Spring Commencement ceremony.

An Honors student at Owens, Ritter describes herself as an energetic and caring individual who enjoys spending time with family and friends. Her community involvement includes singing in a youth band and serving as a part-time staff member with the Children's Ministry at Cedar Creek Church in Perrysburg. Among her favorite hobbies is gathering with friends to design and create scrapbooks.

A 2000 Clay High School graduate, Ritter is currently president of the Student Association for Young Children at Owens. Among the student organization's many initiatives include organizing community activities and events for area residents, which center on the development of educating young children. She also is a student teacher at the Jay Shuer Preschool in Oregon.

Ritter credits her success to the Owens faculty in the Early Childhood Education Department and the passion and excitement they display while providing guidance to their students. "The positive influence that the Owens faculty has had on my educational experience is something I will never forget," Ritter said. "They truly love teaching each student and want them to succeed as future professionals within the field of early childhood education."

The focus of her commencement speech will address how each graduate has traveled down a different road in pursuit of a college education from Owens Community College. As the journey at Owens nears a completion, the Spring Semester 2003 graduating class is now ready to embark on yet another adventure in which the mission is to go into the world and make a difference.

"Whether it is nursing, occupational therapy, computer programming or early childhood education, we have committed ourselves to a career goal, and completing a college education," Ritter states in her speech. "As we sit here today, each graduate is ready to be the next nurses, teachers, computer operators, law enforcement officers and much more."

Ritter adds, "Today, 613 Owens students can walk across this stage and out these doors as college graduates. Influence and impact are ours to use. The degree we hold in our hands allows each of us to march into this world with confidence and make ourselves heard."

The daughter of Thomas and Annelle Ritter, she intends on pursuing her bachelor's degree in early childhood education at Bowling Green State University. Her goal is to someday work with children as an early childhood educator.

More than 4,000 family, friends and relatives are expected to attend the Spring Commencement, which also is open to the public and media.

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Northwest Ohio with 24 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 38,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for new college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor 's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.


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