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Owensboro Community amp; Technical College named the 2016 class of distinguished alumni during the 2016 Commencement Ceremony on May 10, 2016. The alumni are selected based on individual characteristics that students should aspire to and community service and involvement. The program began in 2015 with George Henderson of Unifirst and Chad Gregory, Lewisport Mayor being named as Distinguished Alumni. The 2016 OCTC inductees are Matt Castlen and Pamela Smith-Wright.

OCTC President, Scott Williams commented, By promoting the success of our graduates this program will provide our students a reference for the wide range of opportunities that are possible.

Matt Castlen is the CEO of Castlen Steel and earned his AWS welding certification while at OCTC. He attended OCTC during his junior and senior years in high school, allowing him to further his education in welding and fabricating. The faculty at OCTC served as great mentors, sharing many valuable lessons that helped prepare us for the outside work environment, added Castlen.

Castlen Steel started in his garage, and he has overseen every step of the business from then to the recent purchase of a 92 acre steel mill and storage facility in Maceo. Now with over 46 full time employees, including Welders, Fabricators, Iron workers, millwrights, operators and design team the company is ready and able to tackle any industrial or agricultural job.

Like any good business, customer service is key at Castlen. Working knowledge, the experience to back it up, a solid crew, and a strong work ethic are the guiding principles at Castlen Steel, and it shows in every step of every job. Castlen commented, I want to thank OCTC for their educational leadership in the community. They are a true asset to the region for workforce development.

Pamela LaVerne Smith-Wright was born in Owensboro and graduated from Owensboro High School where she was on the first Girls Track Team, winning a state championship in her senior year. Helen Dennis was her Cosmetology instructor at Owensboro Vocational School. Pam was the first African-American to work in an all-white beauty salon in Owensboro. She owned a catering business, Tastefully Yours, for over 20 years. Pam was the first African-American to hold the office of President of the Kentucky Am Vets Ladies Auxiliary. She serves as an Owensboro City Commissioner and was the first woman to hold the office of Mayor Pro Tem.

Pam served on the OCTC Advisory Board for Cosmetology from 1975-2013. She is a graduate of Leadership Owensboro and the KY Womens Leadership Network. She is a KY Colonel and serves as the President of the Lady Colonels. She is Past President of the Owensboro Human Relations Commission and received their Humanitarian Award in 1999. Pam recently won the 2015 Wendell H. Ford Regional Legislative Leadership Award, and in 2016, was inducted into the OHS Hall of Achievement. Pam and her husband Eugene Wright have two children and two wonderful grandchildren.

For more information about the OCTC Distinguished Alumni program or to nominate someone as a distinguished alumnus, please contact Bernie Hale, OCTC Marketing amp; Communications, at 270.686.4506 or via e-mail at bernie.hale@kctcs.edu.