OCC 50th Commencement May 9
Olney Central College’s 50th annual commencement exercises will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 9 in the OCC Gymnasium. Friends and relatives of the graduates are invited to attend.
During the ceremony, the 2014 Alumni Award will be presented to Deborah Mitchell.
“It is really an honor,” Mitchell said of receiving the award. “I am excited to have an opportunity to represent Olney Central College in a new and different role than that of student, graduate and Foundation member. When I think about the past recipients, I’m proud to be among those who have been selected.”
Mitchell completed her associate’s degree with a business emphasis from OCC in 1990 and transferred to Eastern Illinois University where she received a bachelor’s degree in finance.
In 1992, she joined the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Mt. Vernon office as a bank examiner. She served as an asset examiner for three years before completing her test to become a commissioned examiner, a position she held for five years.
“It was a good opportunity to learn a lot about the banking industry,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell returned to Olney in 2000 and has worked at TrustBank for 12 years. She currently serves as the institution’s Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer. Her duties include loan review and audit functions as well as overseeing branch operations, compliance regulations and examinations.
“OCC gave me a great foundation in accounting and business,” she said. “There are aspects from my time at OCC that I continue to use today such as communication skills, both written and verbal.”
As an East Richland High School class valedictorian, Mitchell received a Presidential Scholarship from the Olney Central College Foundation.
“I chose OCC because I could receive an excellent education while being close to home,” she said. “With a full scholarship, plus the savings of living at home, it allowed me to be financially as well as academically prepared for Eastern. I really felt it was a great value for a lower cost.
“There was no difference between my performance at Eastern and those who had attended their first two years there,” she added. “I received a quality education and was just as successful as those who had attended Eastern all four years. I really feel like OCC provided me with the base I needed to do well.”
In July 2003, Mitchell joined the OCC Foundation’s Executive Board.
“I knew being involved in the college was something I wanted to do,” she said. “I really wanted to give back.”
Mitchell served as the organization’s president from July 2007 to July 2013 and remains an active member.
“When I belong to an organization, I have a tendency to make sure I’m active and that leads to officer positions,” she said. “That was definitely the case and even more so with the OCC Foundation. Because of my interest in the college, I was more than willing to be president.”
The Foundation is a vital partner to the college and strives to enhance the quality of student life and academics at OCC.
“The Foundation’s members are all volunteers,” Mitchell said. “In everything they do and in all the fund-raisers they participate, members are giving of their own time and money.”
Mitchell said receiving the alumni award will afford her a new platform for touting the college.
“This is a chance to let everyone know the college offers so many opportunities,” she said. “It provides a base for students’ college years and careers. I want to take this opportunity to let as many people in the community as possible know we have a great thing here in the college and to help spread the word.
“Sometimes I think we look at local matters differently,” she said, comparing it to the white squirrels. “It may be in our own backyard, and we tend to take it for granted. Visitors to the area remind me that the white squirrels are special and unique. We don’t always think about how great it is to have a college when many communities don’t.”
“Olney, through its educational institutions, offers many opportunities to explore different careers from the arts to the technical and medical fields to agriculture,” she said.
Mitchell is a member of the Board of Education at St. Joseph School and in June will join the Board of Directors for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Richland County. She is also actively involved in the local 4-H and the St. Joseph Boosters.
Mitchell and her husband, Aaron, reside in Olney. They are the parents of two sons, Seth and Lance. Mitchell is the daughter of Dan and Mary Ann Kuenstler of Claremont.