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Ted Coburn, a life-long resident of Villa Ridge, was the recipient of the East Central College Outstanding Alumnus Award for 2011.  The award is presented annually to honor an ECC graduate who has used his or her education and been of service to the community.

2011 Outstanding Alumnus Ted Coburn with ECC personnel

Cookie Hays, ECC’s vice president of student development, made the presentation at college commencement ceremonies held Friday, May 13, at the campus in Union. She noted that Coburn is a wonderful example of someone who has used the knowledge and skills acquired in college to give back to the community. 

Coburn spent four years on active duty in the Navy.  When a service related disability ended his naval career, he took a job in sales.  “I knew I wanted a job where I could make a difference in people’s lives,” said Coburn.  “That meant more education.”  In 2002 he began his post-secondary education at ECC, receiving his associate degree in 2004.  He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and a master’s degree in social work from Washington University with an emphasis in mental health and criminal behavior.

While attending UMSL, Coburn developed and directed a program for his practicum at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific.  The program offered offenders job readiness skills needed upon their release. He also developed and directed a class for violent offenders in the prison system to acclimate to life after prison and reduce recidivism.

Coburn has been employed by the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole since 2008, working at the District 16 office in Union since last March.  He is assigned to the youthful offenders and mental health sections, helping his clients move on to productive lives. 

Micki Hoffman, director of the GED program at East Central College, met Coburn last fall when he came to her with a proposal for a Friday night GED class for the 16-24 year old youthful offenders he worked with.  “His research and experience had convinced him that this age group was at a crossroads when decisions could have a critical effect on the rest of their lives,” said Hoffman.  “We agreed to partner on a class specifically for this group.”

The program began without any special funding; Coburn and Hoffman giving their time to work with the students. With the full support of Lisa Schulze, district administrator, and Daphne Ressell, unit supervisor, the program was launched and has been successful.  One student has already taken and passed his GED, and the others have moved up an educational level.  

“In my experience in adult education, I’ve not been associated with anyone as dedicated to helping those in need,” said Hoffman.  “Ted does not expect praise for his own efforts; his hope is to gain recognition for the successes of the program as it develops further and becomes a model for other Missouri programs.”  Coburn is now working on a new initiative to further address the problems of the 16-24 year old age group.

Coburn is the father of four.  His parents, Ted and Gwen, have lived in Franklin County for more than 30 years. 

The East Central College Alumni Association established the award in 2002 to recognize outstanding alumni who have set an example for ECC graduates by using their college education and serving their community. 

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