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Two friends fulfill life-long dream

It took a while for Priscilla Brice and Kathryn Pierce to start fulfilling their dreams, but Saturday was a milestone for the two friends.

Brice, 54, and Pierce, 42, were among the 380 graduates of Mineral Area College who picked up their diplomas during an hour-long graduation ceremony Saturday morning in the college’s field house.

Each of the women had children at a young age, and their college dreams were put on hold.

“This is a great achievement, especially at my age,” said Brice, who is widowed. “My son is here from Michigan, my mom is here from St. Louis. It means a lot!”

Brice plans a career in human services, while Pierce wants to be a school counselor. Each currently is working on a four-year degree at CMSU ( Central Missouri State University).

“I always dreamed about being a clinical counselor,” Pierce said. “It’s been a long journey, but I made it.”

Among the other successful graduates were a Park Hills mother and daughter, Winifred M. Gallaher and Karlee Rae Gallaher.

The ceremony was to include keynote speaker Gov. Jay Nixon, who sent his regrets and best wishes. Nixon spent Saturday reviewing storm damage around the state.

Dr. Steven J. Kurtz, president of the college, honored retiring counselor Chris Landrum and retired board member Elvin Sikes during the ceremony. Kurtz also honored Dr. Charles E. Carleton as the distinguished alumnus award recipient and named the Alumni Association’s Outstanding Student Award winners Jessica DeBold, Rebekah Schaeffler, Caitlin Shadbolt, Shawn Slinkard, Holli Beth Wallace, Jeremy Weiler and Nichole Witmyer.

This was the 85th commencement for the college.

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at

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