10 factors, 1 location

FREMONT – More than 400 students graduated from Terra State Community College Friday, receiving associate’s degrees and certificates during the college’s 45th annual commencement ceremony.

The keynote address was given by Rural Community College Alliance President Randy Smith.

Smith is a native of Oklahoma and is in charge of the largest organization of rural colleges in the United States.

During his address, Smith gave 10 factors of success: to work to be a leader, follow up and follow through, help someone in need, have an attitude of gratitude, be enthusiastic and positive, be committed, do what is right and be honest, get as much education as you can, be respectful and polite, and seek for excellence.

“We work, sweat, practice and fail and get up and do it all over again,” Smith said. “Be proud of your rural roots, lifestyle and support rural America. I’m giving you a code that works.”

Smith concluded with reciting one of his favorite quotes from Will Rogers, “If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.”

Dendara Oakleaf, received her associate’s of arts degree in creative writing Friday. Oakleaf is also a senior at Columbian High School.

Oakleaf said she has been involved in Terra’s Post Secondary Education program since she was a freshmen.

“I attended Terra so that I can get a head start on my education and save money in the process,” Oakleaf said. “Thanks to the PSEO opportunity, I was able to take all of my classes for free.”

Oakleaf grew up on a farm halfway between Tiffin and Old Fort. She has been riding horses since she was three, and up until last year, has participated in 4-H.

In the upcoming fall, Oakleaf plans to attend Ashland University to earn her bachelor’s degree in creative writing and to peruse a double major. She later wants to earn her master’s degree and has aspirations on becoming a professor and novelist.

“Terra has given me an array of experiences and opportunities that have allowed me to step out of my box and step up to the plate,” Oakleaf said. “I really can’t wait to get to Ashland and continue to use all of the skills that I’ve been developing while at Terra.”

“No matter what people say, college is neither a waste of time or money,” she said. “It allows you to learn and develop skills that will give you more confidence and knowledge that will be useful in whatever career you end up pursuing. So far, it has been extremely life changing for me, and I know that as I continue at Ashland, it will continue to change my life.”