Student makes impact with speech at Higher Ed day

March 5, 2011 Latest Print Print
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Photo courtesy Erin Logan

An OCCC student chronicled his circuitous path to college before state legislators Feb. 22.

Kenneth Meador spoke before a few hundred administrators and legislators for Higher Education Day at the State Capitol.

Meader, 30, a political science sophomore at OCCC, addressed the importance of higher education.

“My speech was basically my life story — working full-time as a chef, realizing it wasn’t getting me anywhere in life, joining the Army, going to Iraq a couple times and then going to OCCC,” he said.

Higher Education Day was created to give college representatives an opportunity to meet with state lawmakers about student needs.Student representatives get a first-hand glimpse into the workings of state government as well.

Glen Johnson, Oklahoma Higher Education chancellor, said Meador did a great job with his speech.

“This day is about students,” Johnson said. “Kenneth certainly captured with his message the value of a college degree personally with his compelling story.”

Johnson stressed the importance of Higher Education Day to legislators during meetings held earlier in the day and with Gov. Mary Fallin.

Johnson said the purpose of the event was to comment legislators for their past support for education and encourage them to continue that support.

He said with college enrollment increasing 27 percent, college costs going up and budgets going down, receiving a quality education should remain a top priority.

“[I] think everyone knows more students means our costs go up. We need additional classroom space, additional faculty to teach students, “ he said.

“We need to make sure, even in this budget downturn, we’re not in a situation where those needs are not addressed.”

OCCC President Paul Sechrist agreed that funding education should be a top priority.

“Having access to high quality college programs provides the state with (a) highly skilled and educated workforce, and citizens [who] can intelligently participate in our democracy,” Sechrist said.

“Simply, having higher levels of education for more Oklahomans is the key to future growth of our state and is the key to a better quality of life for everyone.”

Sechrist said he was moved by Meador’s speech.

“As a husband, father, and veteran, his commitment to excel in college is commendable,” Sechrist said.

“Meador’s speech was moving and inspirational. Everyone from OCCC in the audience felt a great sense in pride as Kenneth told his story.”

Antwan Leon, 32, political science and music double major, was there with a small contingent of students from Student Life.

Leon said, as the father of three children, his education is important to him.

“My education is going to reflect my future,” he said.

“The more education I get, the better my job is and the more money I make.”

Meador said a friend from his hometown in Massachusetts commented on his speech after Meador posted it to his Facebook account.

“I think a lot of the people I was around when I was younger wouldn’t have assumed I would attempt to get my law degree or run for public office,” Meador said.

“I think I have come a long way and OCCC helped.”

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