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Three OCTC students make graduation a family affair

May 17, 2019 | 3:11 am

Updated May 17, 2019 | 9:57 am

Brynn Woodard Eckstein, her father Byron Woodard and her husband, Elijah Eckstein all graduated from OCTC Thursday evening. | Photo by Casey Hamilton

Byron Woodard, who has been recognized as the Honor Student for the Health Facilities Leadership program at Owensboro Community & Technical College (OCTC), proudly walked across the RiverPark Center stage to receive his credentials Thursday evening. However, Woodard wasn’t the only member of his family earning his credentials, as his daughter and son-in-law graduated on the same evening.

Beginning this year, OCTC expanded their May 2019 Commencement ceremony and in order to host two celebrations to accommodate families and friends of the graduates. The college awarded 1246 credentials to 433 graduates over the two-day event. The Wednesday night ceremony showcased the accomplishments of students in the Allied Health programs: Emergency Medical Technician, Fire Rescue Science Technology, Medical Assisting, Medical Information Technology, Nurse Aide, Nursing, Paramedic, Radiography, Surgical Technology and Administrative Office Technology.

Last evening, those students who earned an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or Associate in Fine Arts walked the stage along with all remaining program graduates.  

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After a short time in college in the early 1980s, Woodard chose to enter the workforce instead.  Around 2010, Woodard returned to OCTC to earn his Associate of Arts in Business Management.

“I chose OCTC because I already felt a connection there and it was close and affordable,” Woodard said, adding that his initial plan was to go on to earn his bachelor’s degree, but the implementation of a unique new program at the college attracted his interest.

This program, Healthcare Facilities Leadership, was especially fascinating to Woodard, a Maintenance Technician III for Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. Currently, Woodard’s job tasks include maintaining imaging equipment such as PET scans, MRI, CT, X-ray and mammography machines as well as the building facilities at the hospital’s Health Park, Springs and Breckenridge Street campuses. As a team leader, he also oversees construction projects and custodial needs.

Woodard knew that fulfilling the requirements for the program would open doors to positions of leadership within the hospital and offer him an opportunity to learn even more about the job he was already enjoying.  

Woodard told the Owensboro Times that the degree was a “unique and excellent opportunity to gain additional exposure to many key areas in my profession.”

According to Woodard, the elements of the program’s curriculum, such as infection control, HVAC, codes and standards, mechanical, electrical and plumbing, all “connect and guide us to sustain safe and compliant facilities that are designed to serve our patients and provide the best environment for their care.”

As he celebrated earning his Healthcare Facilities Leadership Associate in Applied Science with High Distinction, along with his Healthcare Facilities diploma and certificate, Woodard was joined by two family members,  his daughter, Brynn Woodard Eckstein and her husband, Elijah Eckstein who both earned their Associate in Arts degrees. The couple will be transferring to the University of the Cumberlands to complete their bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.  Additionally, all three will be wearing Honors awards with their caps and gowns. Last year, Brynn won the Teacher Education Honors award; this year Elijah won the History Honors award.

According to the graduation program, Mike Canales, Coordinator of the Healthcare Facilities Leadership, nominated Woodard for this year’s program Honors award.

“Mr. Woodard has demonstrated a consistent desire to grow personally and professionally,” Canales said. “During his time in the HFL program, he has sought insight and counsel on the application of course material in his daily work. His willingness to seek continuous growth and share his experiences with other students and instructors is commendable.”

May 17, 2019 | 3:11 am

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