Student finds way to get off street by coming to OTC

Student finds way to get off street by coming to OTC

Monday, August 26, 2013

Contact

College Director of Communications
417.447.2655 publicinfo@otc.edu
Steve Koehler
Coordinator of Publications (417) 447-2666 koehlers@otc.edu

The road to educational success has taken Wade Southwell from living on the streets of San Francisco to the classrooms of OTC.

And thanks to the relationships he struck up with faculty and staff at OTC, Southwell will soon graduate and move on to Brown University to study international relations. After graduation from Brown, Southwell plans to join the U.S. Air Force and become a public relations officer.

Southwell , who has been on his own since age 14, was living on the streets when he had an opportunity to get a free bus ticket out of town. The destination was Springfield and Southwell took it.

"I had gone to community college off and on while in California. I was homeless when I got here but wanted to go to school," he said.

Southwell got some financial assistance and work study employment that helped with costs but still had him living on Springfield streets and walking seven miles from the city's south side every day to attend class.

"It was hard to show up for class everyday dealing with the things I've had to deal with like sleeping outside and keeping your clothes in trash bags and hiding them in the bushes at night so they aren't stolen. I would shower at school," he said.

"I was exhausted walking to school. I was getting good grades, however."

Thanks to Jill Rea, OTC's assistant registrar-communications, Southwell was awarded a MOHELA Director's Choice Grant last semester and has been able to secure an apartment and other living essentials, including a bicycle to ride back and forth to school.

"He has come such a long way and is doing so well here at OTC," Rea said.

In fact, Southwell's grad were so good he was able to join the OTC Honor's Program and is a member of the Honors Student Council.

Southwell said he is grateful for the help OTC provided him that allowed him to get off the streets and into the classroom.

"I saw that continuing my education would lead me out of the situation I was in. Coming to OTC helped me turn things around for myself. If it hadn't been for OTC, education wouldn't have been an option," he said.