When 45-year-old Sarah Terry graduated from Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) last Friday night, her family was there to cheer her on. However, she also had one other special guest in the crowd supporting her – her eighth grade English teacher, Theodore Dilenschneider.
"His name was a little long to say, so everyone at Everett Middle School in Columbus called him Mr. D," said Terry. "He has helped me through my whole life. Mr. D has always been there for me and encouraged me to pursue my college education."
Dilenschneider was proudly sitting in the stands Friday night during COTC's summer commencement exercise. Right before the ceremony began, Dilenschneider hugged Terry and said, "This has been a long time coming. I'm proud of you."
Terry received an Associate of Applied Science in Human Services. Possible careers paths include working with various populations as a social work assistant, chemical dependency counselor assistant, case manager, intake coordinator, group leader and many others. Terry wants to use her degree to help and encourage others, the way Mr. D has helped and encouraged her.
"I really like helping people," said Terry. "I used to get in trouble as a kid for giving food to the neighbor kids who were hungry. This degree fits me perfectly. Now, I can do something that I love."
Terry started her degree on the Coshocton campus and eventually transitioned to the Newark campus to complete her degree. It was a long road, but with the support of people like Mr. D and people who have become family at COTC, she never gave up.
Terry was one of 136 graduates in 12 associate degree programs and three certificate programs. Graduates represented 14 Ohio counties, varying in age from 20 to 60 years old.
"This has been my dream for a long time," said Terry. "I made it!"
Central Ohio Technical College opened in 1971 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.