PARK HILLS — The governor will speak, an alumnus will be awarded, and seven students will be honored for their extraordinary achievements during Mineral Area College’s annual graduation ceremony, set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Robert E. Sechrest Sr. Field House.
Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon will deliver the keynote address, and Flat River Junior College alumnus will be honored with the college’s “Distinguished Alumnus” award on the day that hundreds of MAC graduates will walk the aisle to receive their diplomas and certificates.
Each year the Alumni Association recognizes MAC students who have been outstanding in service, classroom, or other areas of campus life. The seven Outstanding Student awards are: Art, Music, Athletics, Leadership and Campus Service, Theatre, Career and Technical Education Division, and Arts and Sciences Division.
The Outstanding Student in Art is Jessica DeBold. DeBold is from Fredericktown, and is a 2004 graduate of Fredericktown High School. She is the daughter of Tim and Barbara Morgan and Sandra and Darrell Redman, and is married to John DeBold. A member of the Art Club and Jazz Band, she is also a work-study student for the Art Department. She said that while being a member of the Art Department, she never stops learning, and plans to continue her study of art and other fine arts programs at a four-year university. She will possibly major in Art Education.
The Outstanding Student Award in Music goes to Rebekah Schaeffler of Bonne Terre, who graduated from North County High School in 2007 and is the daughter of Mark and Mary Ann Vaccaro. She is vice-president of the music student organization C-MENC and participates in MAC Singers, Chamber Singers, Studio Music, and voice lessons. Schaeffler said the Mineral Area College staff really listens to the students and provides them with the tools they need to succeed. She plans to graduate in the future with a bachelor’s degree in music performance and business, with intentions of continuing in the music field.
The recipient for the Outstanding Student Award in Athletics is Caitlin Shadbolt. Caitlin is an international student from Australia and is the daughter of Mark and Janet Shadbolt. She played on the Lady Cardinal basketball team and as a forward/center. She said being a student at Mineral Area College has taught her many life lessons and to become more independent. After graduating from MAC, Caitlin plans to transfer to a university to finish her education and to play basketball.
Shawn Slinkard, from Farmington, has been selected as the Outstanding Student in Leadership and Campus Service. He is the son of Sarah and Steve Slinkard, and graduated from Farmington High School in 2007. An active member of Phi Theta Kappa, he has taken on a leadership position within the organization and is always willing to do whatever is needed for it, in addition to taking on other leadership positions around campus. He often helps other students with homework, and can also be seen at all the MAC basketball games as the mascot “Kirby the Cardinal.” Along with his campus activities, Slinkard holds leadership positions within the community with the Boy Scouts and at his church. His PTK advisor, Tabatha Crites, said Slinkard is an excellent example for others who are around him.
Holli Beth Wallace is the recipient of the Outstanding Student Award in Theatre. Wallace, from Potosi, is the daughter of Phil and Kristina Wallace and graduated from Potosi High School in 2007. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the treasurer of the Omega Leo organization, the president of Delta Psi Omega, and was a 2008 member of the Community Choir. Participation in MAC Theatre included being in the ensemble of “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off,” Mary Contrary in “Babes in Toyland,” Titania in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Ginger in “1940s Radio Hour,” Belinda in “Noises Off,” and Cecelia in “The Ghost of Scapino.” Wallace said the MAC faculty is friendly and knowledgeable, and she thanks her friends and family for being positive and supportive to her. She plans to attend Missouri Baptist University and major in speech and theatre education. She wants to work in the educational and theatrical fields after college.
Jeremy Weiler, from Ste. Genevieve, has been selected as the Outstanding Student from the Career and Technical Education Division. The son of Robert and Patricia Weiler, he graduated from Valle High School in 1997. He has been married to his wife, Janelle, for eight years, and they have two sons, Dawson, age 6, and Kaleb, age 3. He was a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers from 1997 to 1999, and has been a member of Phi Theta Kappa since 2007. His said he likes that MAC encourages non-traditional students to continue their education and pursue their academic and personal goals in a timely and manageable setting. He also said MAC offers the ability to discuss both academic and personal challenges with faculty members who understand the challenges of everyday. His career goal is to continue his entrepreneurial endeavors.
Nichole Witmyer has been selected as this year’s Outstanding Student from the Arts and Sciences Division. Nichole is from Farmington and is married to John DeSantis and they have one daughter, Iriel. She is the daughter of Barbara Witmyer and she graduated from J.P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster, Pa., in 1994. She is a member of the Omega Leo organization, a former member of the MAC Community Steel Pan Band, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, a MAC Ambassador, and is a work-study for the Science Department. Nichole moved to Farmington from the Florida Keys and says that MAC eased her transition to the area without much “culture shock.” She has formed great friendships during her enrollment, and said the intimate size of classes offered attention from her professors that she would have never received at a larger college. She plans to transfer to the University of Louisiana at Monroe and will pursue a pharmacy degree.