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OTC receives seven-figure gift, names atrium after benefactor

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Emma Talbot, whose goodwill will live on for years to come, taught elementary school students in Nixa. Talbot died in 2020, but her impact on education extends because she left behind a seven-figure financial gift to the Ozarks Technical Community College Foundation.

The donation is one of the most significant cash gifts the college has ever received from a single donor. To honor Talbot, OTC named the atrium at its Richwood Valley campus in Christian County in honor of the Talbot Family and held a dedication ceremony Aug. 12.

“Ms. Talbot was an outstanding educator who focused on helping her students in and out of the classroom,” said Dr. Hal Higdon, OTC chancellor. “Her generous gift allows her legacy to live beyond her lifetime by removing financial barriers for students who seek to better their lives.”

This financial gift will establish the Talbot Family Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance for OTC students. Due to Talbot's wishes, there will be an emphasis on providing scholarships to single mothers. The fund will provide scholarships for up to 40 OTC students each year and will assist students beginning in fall 2021.

Emma Talbot is remembered as a humanitarian who prioritized education above all else. She taught in Nixa Public Schools for decades, where she twice earned "teacher of the year" accolades, but her care for children did not end at the schoolhouse door. When some students did not have enough to eat, lacked support at home, or simply had trouble getting to school, Mrs. Talbot would lend a hand.

“Emma was an inspirational, compassionate and generous educator,” Talbot’s longtime friend Betsy Kester said. “Emma instilled a confidence to learn in her students. She recognized their need to succeed as people. She went beyond teaching and had special concern for children of broken homes. She provided encouragement, school supplies, clothing and other personal necessities for them.”

Talbot was an expert researcher who taught herself how to manage financial investments, and then she started an investment group for women. In that group, Talbot continued in her role as a teacher, helping women like her learn to invest and grow their money.

Even after a cancer diagnosis, Talbot borrowed her doctors’ medical journals to learn as much about the disease as possible. It was this desire to continue learning that fueled her passion for education.

Students and prospective students may visit http://foundation.otc.edu/otc-foundation-scholarships to apply for the Talbot Family Scholarship or any of the OTC Foundation scholarships.

OTC Foundation executive director Amy Bacon thanked Talbot and her family for choosing OTC students as beneficiaries.

“We are honored that Emma trusted us with her legacy,” Bacon said.

Bacon offered a quote from D. Elton Trueblood to illustrate the significance of the gift.

“A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit,” Bacon quoted, and then added her own analysis. “We are just so thankful. We’ll never be able to thank Emma enough for the shade that she will provide for our students.

The Ozarks Technical Community College system offers associate degrees and certificates in a variety of technical, allied health and two-year transfer degree programs, as well as workforce development opportunities. Classes are available at six locations throughout southwest Missouri, including the option to earn a complete associate degree online.

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