COTC Recognizes Alumni Award Recipients


Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) presented three alumni awards to graduates who demonstrated remarkable achievements in their careers and have used their success to influence future generations of entrepreneurs, healthcare employees and public safety personnel. The Outstanding Alumni Award, Transitions Alumni Award and John C. “Jay” Barker Community Service Alumni Award were announced at the college’s annual alumni reception earlier this month.

Outstanding Alumni Award

Portrait of James Golden III and COTC President John M. Berry, PhD.The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes COTC alumni who have demonstrated personal or professional achievement that brings honor and distinction to the college as well as individual attainment and contributions for the betterment of the community.

James Golden III (1998, drafting and design technology) was named this year’s Outstanding Alumni Award recipient. After receiving an associate degree from COTC, Golden worked his way from field inspector to director of operations for KMS & Associates, Inc., while earning a bachelor’s degree in information technology. In 2011, he founded Pavement Management Group and continues to serve as its CEO today.

“With over 25 years of industry-specific expertise, Golden has emerged as a trailblazer in the field of pavement management,” said Kim Manno, director of advancement at COTC. “As a business owner, he consistently pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of infrastructure. His passion for innovation and excellence has led to the development of cutting-edge solutions that enhance the safety, efficiency and longevity of our roadways.”

In January 2022, he founded Goalden Ventures, a holding company that provides business investment, mentorship, resources, and coaching and consulting services for the early business owner. He has served on the Licking County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Licking County Business Community Advisory Council, the City of Heath Board of Zoning and Building Appeals Board, and the COTC Alumni Council.

Transitions Alumni Award

Portrait of Susan Cooperider and COTC President John M. Berry, PhD.The COTC Transitions Alumni Award recognizes COTC alumni currently working at the college in either a faculty or staff capacity who help advance the college and make a difference in the lives of current students.

Associate Professor Susan Cooperider (1996, nursing technology), who was selected as the Transitions Alumni Award recipient, has been teaching at COTC since 2015 and advises first-semester, at-risk students who enter the nursing program. She has been involved in several initiatives within the nursing department to develop and revise courses that prepare students for successful nursing careers. In addition, she serves on several college committees, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) Standard Six Accreditation Committee, and the C-TEC health programs advisory board. In the community, Cooperider teaches CPR and childbirth education classes and volunteers at multiple flu and COVID vaccination clinics in Perry and Licking counties.

“During her time at COTC, she has demonstrated a sincere desire to effectively educate COTC’s nursing students and works collaboratively with her faculty peers,” said Sandra Walker, retired COTC dean of technical studies. “She is perceived by her students as an engaged and compassionate educator, one who is genuinely interested in each student’s success. Her student evaluations are consistently positive, and she has been nominated multiple times for the Teaching Excellence Award.”

Cooperider continued her education after COTC, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Ohio University, a Master of Science in Nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University, and a Doctor of Education in Education and Leadership in Healthcare from Nebraska Methodist College. 

John C. “Jay” Barker Community Service Alumni Award

Portrait of Caileigh Barker, Spencer Barker, Beth Barker, Nick Shuster, Makayla Shuster and COTC President John M. Berry, PhD.The John C. “Jay” Barker Community Service Alumni Award recognizes extraordinary graduates who give back through community service. This award honors the legacy of friend, community servant and proud COTC alumnus, Jay Barker, who passed away in March 2014.

Nick Shuster (2015, peace officer basic training) is not only the recipient of the Barker Community Service Alumni Award but also a local hero. After working part-time for several agencies in the area, he received a commission as a Licking County Deputy Sheriff in December 2016.

On his way home from his first solo shift on the morning of May 12, 2017, Shuster heard a dispatched call about a man with a gun and shots fired in the village of Kirkersville. Shuster arrived first on the scene where he discovered wounded Kirkersville Police Chief Steven DiSario and proceeded to administer aid while searching for the gunman. Chief DiSario and two nursing home employees, Marlina Medrano and Cindy Krantz, died in the tragic events of that morning.

“Shuster’s selfless acts to respond to an extremely dangerous event and to attempt to save the life of another human being with only minimal experience and with absolutely no guidance from anyone is a true testament to his moral bravery and the type of people that are employed by the Licking County Sheriff’s Office,” said Manno.

“It’s even more incredible that he has found a way to use his experience as a training tool for new police cadets. He visits every cohort of COTC’s Peace Officer Basic Training program to talk about his experiences that morning and the lasting impact it had on his life so cadets in training have a better understanding of their chosen career path.”

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 has four campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.