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2011 Most Influential Women Honoree: Dianna Parker

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Through her work as a member of the business faculty at Ozarks Technical Community College, Dianna Parker has plenty of opportunities to help others succeed, and in some cases, overcome hurdles on the road to higher education.

“Leading community college students presents some unique challenges. Most are first-generation college students who have multiple life commitments to manage,” she says. “It is a privilege to work with these students to provide them with the encouragement and tools they need to reach beyond their comfort zones to achieve things they never thought were possible.”

Parker earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Drury University and a Master of Business Administration at Missouri State University. She also holds a Ph.D. in higher education with an emphasis on educational leadership and policy studies and a concentration in community college education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Since 2002, she has served in multiple roles at OTC, including a stint as director of research, assessment and planning 2002–08.

“I do my best to serve those around me by listening to their ideas as well as their concerns,” Parker says. “I work to empower individuals by removing barriers and opening doors while providing them with the tools and resources they need to be successful.”

Ashley Rowan, now a graduate student at Missouri State University, credits Parker with helping her along her educational journey. Rowan says she was balancing roles as a single mom and a student, and she also was  involved with the OTC Student Government Association when she first met Parker.

“(She) provided a wealth of advice … that helped me get through some of the toughest situations I have ever faced,” Rowan says.

After Rowan graduated from OTC with honors, Parker helped her find a way to attend Drury University, connecting her with the school’s scholarship coordinator, and helping her apply for a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, which Rowan received, allowing her to study for 11 months at University of Guadalajara.

“I never dreamed something like this would be feasible for someone in my position,” Rowan says. “But, as almost always happens with Dr. Parker, insurmountable obstacles become minute speed bumps in her eyes. (She put) me in contact with people who could get me the information I needed regarding living – and taking a child with me – out of the country for an extended period.”

Parker’s efforts with SGA and other student groups at OTC earned her a 2008–09 Student Impact Award. Her efforts to enhance the community, however, aren’t limited to students. Parker has held leadership positions with community groups including Junior League of Springfield, and she now serves on the board of directors for City Utilities of Springfield.

Click here for full coverage of the 2011 Most Influential Women.
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