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Sometimes the Shortest Trips Take You the Furthest

​COTC student Khara Chrysler found success after one short bike ride with her daughter.

NEWARK, Ohio, October 10, 2019 "Mom, are you going to live here?" Khara Chrysler's 7-year-old daughter asked as they biked onto campus at the end of summer in 2017. It was a short bike ride to Central Ohio Technical College's Newark campus (COTC), but it had been a long, difficult road to a college education. "No, I am going to go to school here," Chrysler replied. A mother of three and a factory worker, Chrysler had resolved to start school in the autumn of 2017 after 20 years and a difficult battle with addiction.

ImageGetting started felt overwhelming, but Chrysler had the resolve and spirit of a fighter. She worked diligently inside and out of the classroom, putting countless hours and energy into her academics. The small class sizes allowed her to get to know the faculty, who were dedicated to using their time and talents to help Chrysler overcome academic and personal challenges. Looking back at that time, Chrysler says, "I needed that individual attention, and the instructors were always willing to help me. I couldn't have made a better choice than COTC."

Today, Chrysler's face reflects resilience and determination as she explains that her struggles have motivated her to do something bigger with her life. Like many adults who decide to attend college, she wants more for herself and more for her family, but she also has an intense desire to help others who, like herself, struggle with mental health issues and addiction. Chrysler, a second-year human services major, says that she selected COTC because "it was in my community, I have always heard really good things about the college and I knew they had a good program."

Associate Professor Jennifer Arny, MSW, LISW-S, said that "Khara is kind-hearted, motivated and excited about learning.  She has a passion for helping individuals and her community.  I'm excited to see the positive impact she will make in the human services profession."

The investment and support from COTC faculty and staff gave Chrysler the boost she needed to attain academic excellence, qualifying her for induction into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK), an international honor society for students at two-year colleges. At COTC, she was encouraged to join the society by Assistant Dean of Student Life Justin Khol who took the time to mentor Chrysler and encourage her involvement with PTK. When the former president graduated, Chrysler was elected as president of COTC's Alpha Theta Zeta chapter by her peers.

Khol describes Chrysler as a "passionate and determined student leader who is driven by a desire to help others and who isn't afraid to jump in with both feet. She has taken advantage of many opportunities available to COTC students outside the classroom and has grown immensely as a leader and an individual in her time on campus."

With her academic success and leadership experience, Chrysler's perseverance was awarded again with new confidence — confidence that inspired her to apply to several selective scholarships. Again, her hard work yielded positive results. This fall Chrysler was awarded the COTC Park National Bank and Associates Scholarship honoring William T. and Jane Cook McConnell. She was also one of 200 students nationwide from Phi Theta Kappa to earn the 2019 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise scholarship and she was one of only 10 students from Phi Theta Kappa to earn the Dorothy C. Lanier scholarship for Ohio Region. These scholarships totaled over $2,000 and — even more significantly —acknowledged how far Chrysler had come in the progress towards a degree.

One short bike ride to campus, took Khara Chrysler further than she imagined she could go. Chrysler's courage and tenacity paid off, not just in scholarships, but with new-found confidence, improved self-worth and the knowledge that she can overcome any obstacle that stands in her way. Now Chrysler is making great progress on her way to a degree and her future looks bright. Her goal is to become a mental health counselor to give back to the community that helped her fight her addiction and continue to be a positive role model for her biggest supporters and inspirations — her three children, Cooper, Caiden and Jenna.

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. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.