Randolph L. Knepper, Class of 1970

1993 Distinguished Alumni Recipient

There was never any doubt I would attend Okaloosa-Walton Community College. Some of my high school classmates could afford the big universities. I could not. It was necessary for me to work my way through college to assist my parents as we paid for my education. That turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. Seeds were planted that have continued to germinate and benefit my career. OWCC was convenient and allowed me to begin a career in banking while earning my Associate of Arts degree. That degree paved the way for a Florida Bankers Association scholarship to Florida State University for my junion and senior years. The work experience helped me to obtain a job at the Office of the Secretary of State while attending FSU. Valuable training was added to a quality education.

I started my college career at OWCC with a bang! Mr. Myron Howell introduced me to the difficulties of college algebra and the need for good study habits and personal discipline. After almost passing his course, I wondered if college was for me. But the wisdom attending our local community college became evident. Rather than being lost at sea, I found encouragement, support, wise counsel and caring that provided the foundation for my formal education.

Dr. Ed McCracken summoned me to the President's Office to discuss my grades and future in college. Instead of chastising me for poor grades, he told me he believed in me and knew I could do better if I tried. He shared his vision based on the potential he saw in me. Some pruning and cultivation took place. Even a little fertilizer was applied. But roots were being formed that have been beneficial to me throughout my adult life. It is difficult to believe that would have happened in a larger university.

Mr. John Stair took an interest in my career and counseled me on which subjects to take. He was an encouraging voice as was the entire faculty. Mr. Howell became one of my life-long, trusted friends and I passed algebra the next time around. His leadership through the Baptist Campus Ministry was an inspiration to many of us throughout the years. I seriously doubt I would have completed college had it not been for the genuine commitment and dedication of these fine men.

OWCC is much like an educational greenhouse. The whole faculty helps to nurture positive thinking and cultivate good learning habits. Students find rich soil for personal and academic growth. I was fully equipped to face the challenges at FSU and later in the workplace as a result of my community college experience and education. My experience on the Student Senate and as Charter President of the OWCC Rotaract Club helped prepare me for the challenges I would face as Administrative Assistant and Chief of Staff to Congressman Earl Hutto during over a decade on Capital Hill. The seeds planted by Dr. McCrackin and Mr. Howell grew deep roots. Helping people while maintaining strong personal integrity and discipline assisted me as I served in Washington, D.C.

Roots which run deep are necessary to withstand the winds of change and storms of life. I thank God for the privilege of having received not just a college education, but lasting friendships and values which began at OWCC.

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