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OWC 2008 Commencement - 42nd Annual, Monday, May 12 - 7:00 pm OWC Amphitheater, Niceville Campus

4/21/2008

- Largest Graduation class in college history - 1,902

- Very likely the final commencement as OWC - due to current legislation to convert OWC into a state college. Such a complete status change would mean OWC would be renamed prior to the next commencement.

- Second Graduation ceremony held in OWC amphitheater (2007 commencement was first held in amphitheater)

- 42nd annual OWC Commencement

- Charter class of 19 OWC Radiography Associate of Science graduates

NICEVILLE---The Okaloosa-Walton College 2008 commencement will be held Monday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the Niceville campus amphitheater in the college's Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center complex. It is the college's 42nd annual commencement and the largest graduation class in the college's history with 1,902 graduates. The first commencement was held May 1, 1966, in Perrine Park in Valparaiso with 85 students in the charter graduation class of then Okaloosa-Walton Junior College.

This year's record number of graduates could well be the last to graduate from OWC. Due to current legislation that would convert OWC into a state college, this year's commencement is very possibly the college's final commencement as Okaloosa-Walton College. The legislation, which names OWC as part of a prestigious group of community colleges that would be formally converted into new state colleges - would mean OWC will likely be completely re-named in the coming year.

This will be the third OWC commencement at which Baccalaureate degree students will graduate from the college. A total of 55 students completed the Bachelor of Applied Science degree from OWC this academic year. More than 650 students are currently admitted to the popular bachelor's degree program which began at OWC in 2004. This coming fall term, OWC begins two new bachelor's degree programs in Elementary Education and Middle Grades Math & Science, as well as becoming the provider of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

"Our success with current OWC bachelor's programs was a key reason we are included in the legislation to create a state college system," said Richburg. "We are so proud of all those in our record graduation class this year - the nearly 1,300 Associate degree completers, plus those who have earned technical certificates and the bachelor's grads. Each can be so very proud of their accomplishments at OWC." Richburg noted that taking the stage to inspire the graduates as the commencement speaker will be Susan N. Story, President and CEO of Gulf Power.

Due to the size of the graduating class, OWC commencement is scheduled for the second year in a row at the college's outdoor amphitheater on the Niceville campus A rain policy allows each graduate only two guest tickets if the event must move indoors due to inclement weather. If the event must move indoors, there will be overflow space in the Mattie Kelly Arts Center's Sprint Theater and main theater lobby where additional guests or those with young children may watch a live video feed of the ceremony. As part of this year's graduation class are 19 Associate of Science degree graduates from OWC's Radiography program - the charter class to complete this health sciences program that began at OWC in 2006.

In addition to the record number of college graduates, 312 adult students received a state of Florida high school diploma at OWC this academic year through successful completion of the GED exam. These Florida high school diploma recipients are invited to participate in commencement and will be the first to cross the stage at the graduation ceremony.

There are also 99 students who earned both a high school diploma and a two-year college degree at the same time through completion of studies at the OWC Collegiate High School, a charter high school operated by OWC.

"Commencement is always the highlight of our academic year," said Richburg. "This truly will be another milestone year for the college."

OWC commencement consists of those students who complete studies in either the summer, fall or spring terms. The names of OWC Summer 2007 and Fall 2007 graduates have previously been released. Spring term names will be released following commencement and official certification of completed studies.