About 640 Owens Community College students received their degrees at the fall commencement Friday in the Student Health and Activities center.
Students from the Findlay campus, summer graduates, and fall graduates participated in the 33rd annual Owens fall commencement at the main campus on Oregon Road in Perrysburg Township. Keynote speaker was Joe Napoli, president and general manager of the Toledo Mud Hens and Toledo Walleye.
"Anytime someone so involved in the community and has a great sense of the area speaks, it is great," said Betsy Johnson, Owens vice president of enrollment management and student services. "It is an extremely important time for the students and his message is step in and do what you can for the community."
Mr. Napoli serves the community as a board member with the Great Lakes Center for Autism, ProMedica, Boys Scouts of America, Toledo Children’s Hospital, and the Toledo Symphony.
Ms. Johnson said graduation ceremonies are her favorite days because she gets to see students excitement with achieving their academic success.
Maja Valusek, an office administration technology major graduating with summa cum laude honors, was the Owens class representative and addressed the graduates during the ceremony.
The 28-year-old Toledo resident was born in Croatia and fled the war-torn eastern European country for neighboring Serbia with her family in 1991. Her journey to Owens started at the University of Novi Sad in Novi Sad, Serbia, where she met her future husband.
Ms. Valusek is the first person from her immediate family to earn a college degree. She plans to continue her education and earn a bachelor’s degree in human resources.
“It is a huge accomplishment to finally get this degree after four years of schooling in Serbia and two-and-a-half years here in Toledo,” Ms. Valusek said. “I am happy that all the hard work and sleepless nights paid off, and in such an amazing way -– by being given the opportunity to represent all student graduates this fall.”
Ms. Johnson said one of the graduates needs wheelchair assistance but insisted on walking across the stage to receive her diploma.
"To watch her overcome a variety of obstacles to get it, it is incredible," Ms. Johnson said. "You see a lot of excited eyes."