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State Tech students receive Breaking Traditions Award

Two students from State Technical College of Missouri have received top honors in Missouri’s annual Breaking Traditions Awards program. 

Larry Parks, a student in the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program, was awarded the state male winner for postsecondary.   Lauren Anderson, a student in the Design Drafting Technology program, was awarded the regional female winner for postsecondary.

For seventeen years, Breaking Traditions has honored outstanding students who have chosen specific career and technical programs based on their interests and abilities and who have not let their gender influence their career decisions.

All state winners will be honored April 23 during a ceremony at the G2 Gallery in Jefferson City.  Regional winners will be recognized with plaques and certificates at their home schools.

Larry Parks

After retiring from the military, Larry Parks decided to attend State Technical College of Missouri for an associate of applied science degree in PTA.   “I was a Master Fitness Trainer in the military and I had experienced my fair share of physical therapy over the years,” said Parks.  “I asked lots of questions when I was in therapy and from there my interest in physical therapy grew.”

Although the majority of STC programs are predominately male, the PTA program has historically been a predominately female program at the college. 

“I never really saw it as a female occupation,” commented Parks.  “Although I should have, since the majority of the physical therapists I went to were mostly female.”

Parks went on to say it never really dawned on him that he was breaking a tradition.

Parks contributes his success in the program to his highly motivated, exceedingly prepared instructors.  “It’s exactly what we need from our instructors,” commented Parks.  “Their motivation and their preparedness have ensured our success in the program and in our careers.”

Marlene Medin, Larry’s instructor and Chair of the Physical Therapist Assistant program commends Larry for being engaged in learning every day.   “Larry works in partnership with his instructors, much like a physical therapist and physical therapist assistant team works in the clinical setting,” commented Medin. 

“Larry is a role model to his classmates,” said Medin.  “He manages to balance a full schedule with a smile on his face at all times.”

After Parks graduates in May and passes the state board exam for physical therapist assistants, he would like to further his education by learning Spanish. 

“I travel to South America about every other year to help with building projects,” said Parks.  “I would love to speak the language fluently so I can communicate more effectively while I am there.”

Parks hopes that one day he can use the Spanish and the physical therapist skills to help the Hispanic non-English speaking population in the central Missouri area.

Lauren Anderson

 Lauren Anderson tried several colleges before coming to STC, stating that none of the four year institutions were the right fit for her.  “I wanted a more technical, hands-on education,” admitted Anderson.  “I found that here at State Tech.”

“I am honored my instructor thought highly enough of me that she would nominate me for this award,” commented Anderson.  “I rarely look at myself as breaking a tradition because I always feel so comfortable and at home here at State Technical College of Missouri in design drafting.”

Anderson contributes her comfort level in the program to her instructors.  “I really love this program and this line of work, but what I enjoy the most is the relationship I have with my instructors,” said Anderson.

Gaylene Harms, Anderson’s instructor and chair of the Design Drafting Technology program, believes Anderson has worked very hard to be one of the best.  

“This award validates Lauren’s abilities,” said Harms.  “Hopefully, it encourages and supports her desire to pursue her career aspirations and advancement to the fullest degree.”

The Breaking Traditions program is sponsored by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Missouri Center for Career Education (MCCE) and is overseen by a regional Career Education Coordinator (CEC).  For more information, check out the Breaking Traditions website at

With more than 25 programs, State Technical College of Missouri is Missouri’s only public two-year technical college with a statewide mission.   STC has campuses in Linn, Mexico and Jefferson City.  STC prepares students for profitable employment and a life of learning.   For more information about STC, visit

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