When Crystal Kurtz received her associate degree from Owens Community College last Friday, she became the first member of her immediate family to graduate from college.
The Monroe, Michigan native was selected as the Owens Community College class representative and addressed nearly 750 graduates and approximately 3,000 guests during the 50th annual Spring Commencement ceremony at the Student Health and Activities Center.
Randy Oostra, DM, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of ProMedica, delivered the keynote address.
The graduating class included more than 80 students from the Findlay-area Campus. The Owens’ historical total of associate degrees awarded is now nearly 38,900.
Kurtz, 30, graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program and Summa Cum Laude honors with a 3.91 grade-point average.
She is the daughter of Andrew and Leona Begin and also has a sister, AhLeah Begin, 34, who is currently enrolled at Owens. Andrew Begin is an Army veteran.
“My dad is my inspiration. He is a smart man,” Kurtz said. “I wanted to show him I could do something other than odd jobs. Now I’ve done it.”
Kurtz married her high school sweetheart, Cory, six years ago. Cory Kurtz earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan and is currently pursuing two additional master’s degrees in business and finance.
The 2002 graduate of Monroe Jefferson High School briefly pursued a nursing degree at Monroe County Community College before leaving college and beginning to work a variety of jobs.
The job that changed her future was at Kindred RehabCare in Monroe, a facility that employed Owens PTA graduates. Working as a rehab technician, Kurtz became interested in a PTA career. She decided to pursue a degree at Owens and enrolled in Spring Semester 2012.
“I fell in love with the school. I thought it was the perfect fit for me,” she said.
She describes herself as shy, but credited the Owens faculty and staff for assisting her in overcoming any fears she had about invading the personal space of others, given the nature of the PTA profession.
She acknowledged Nancy Rupp, PTA professor, “for challenging my thinking. She doesn’t settle for average students.” She also credited fellow PTA graduate Emily Pinson, who attended Owens while working and raising her children. She was Kurtz’s lab partner and encouraged Kurtz to stay on campus in study groups.
Bradley Wood, assistant chair of the PTA program, describes Kurtz as an intelligent, quick study and a hard worker.
“She has a bright future. She will be an advocate for Owens Community College and will forge strong relationships in the community that she serves,” he said.
After taking her national PTA licensure exam this summer, Kurtz plans to find employment in her field. Her long-term goal includes pursuing additional education and teaching, perhaps at a community college.