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Published 5/16/03
KeyBank President Addresses Owens Graduates During Spring Commencement Ceremony

More than 4,000 family, friends and relatives in attendance saw 571 Owens graduates - including 75 from the Findlay-area Campus - receive associate degrees. Challenging graduates to build upon their educational success, James A. Hoffman, President of KeyBank's Northwest Ohio District, addressed the Owens Community College graduating class as the College held its 37th annual Spring Commencement on Thursday, May 15. The ceremonies were held in the Student Health and Activities Center on the Toledo-area Campus, Oregon Road.

Serving as the keynote speaker, Hoffman shared with the 571 Owens graduates - including 75 from the Findlay-area Campus - and more than 4,000 family, friends and relatives in attendance about choosing to make the most of a future, which has yet to be determined.

"Each of you came to Owens Community College to pursue a degree and develop skills to help you start a career," Hoffman said during his commencement address. "The college education you receive is a great investment, which lays a foundation to build upon."

Hoffman emphasized to the graduates to always display a positive attitude in whatever endeavor embarked upon, as well as to dream and set goals. He also made a point of encouraging the graduating class to never stop learning or growing as an individual and to always enjoy life.

"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's commencement address presented 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 in the future."

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.

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 of Oregon, an early childhood education technology major, was selected as the Owens Community College class representative and addressed the graduates during the 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 credited 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 addressed 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 stated 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 added, "Today, 571 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.

Of the 571 graduates, 184 graduated with honors and 13 of those have earned perfect 4.0 grade point averages.

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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