Mineral Area College to hold 100th Commencement

PARK HILLS – Mineral Area College will hold its annual Commencement Ceremony at 7 pm on Friday, May 17, 2024, in the Bob Sechrest Field House. 372 students will graduate this spring as the college celebrates its 100th ceremony–a notable increase from the 12 men and women who received diplomas from Flat River Junior College at the first commencement exercises, held May 14, 1924.

Tickets are required to attend, with each participating graduate receiving six to share with family and friends. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the Mineral Area College YouTube page.


Commencement Speaker and Distinguished Alumni Award


This year’s Commencement Speaker and Distinguished Alumni Award winner is the  Honorable Brice Sechrest of Park Hills. He currently serves as the Associate Circuit Judge for St. Francois County and is a candidate for Circuit Judge for the 24th Judicial Circuit, covering St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Madison, and Washington counties.




Sechrest grew up in Flat River and graduated from Central High School in Park Hills in 1997. He attended Mineral Area College on an academic and music scholarship, earning an Associate of Arts degree in 1999. At graduation, he received the Outstanding Student Award in Academics.


“The instruction I received at Mineral Area College was as good as any education I received throughout my academic career,” he says. “Ken McIntyre was the best math professor I ever had and is the reason I got a minor in mathematics. Carolyn Gordon, in her English Literature class, inspired a lifelong passion for literature. I loved my chemistry classes with Dr. Margaret Williams. And Dr. Jon Cozean was the first person to suggest that I become a lawyer.”


Sechrest continued his education at Southeast Missouri State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science with a Political Science major and a Mathematics minor in 2003. He then attended Law School at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 2007.


He passed the Missouri Bar in 2007 and began working as a lawyer in Cape Girardeau. In 2009, he returned to Park Hills, practicing law as a partner in the Law Firm of Williams & Sechrest, P.C. for 12 years. As a lawyer, he practiced in the areas of criminal defense, family law, probate, estate planning, and civil litigation. He also served as guardian ad litem for many children in Juvenile Court and family court cases. Sechrest volunteered as defense counsel for people in the Drug Court program, served on the Treatment Court Steering Committee, and helped create the Family Treatment Court program for the 24th Judicial Circuit.


Governor Parson appointed Sechrest as Associate Circuit Judge for St. Francois County in 2021, and he was elected to the same position in 2022. As an Associate Circuit Judge, he oversees a variety of proceedings, including criminal and family cases, as well as small claims and landlord-tenant proceedings. He was appointed by the Supreme Court to serve on the Family Court Committee, which reviews rules and policies for the Family Courts throughout the State of Missouri and also continues to serve on the Treatment Court Steering Committee for the 24th Judicial Circuit.


Sechrest has been involved with several community organizations over the past 15 years. He is a member of the First Baptist Church in Park Hills, where he helped create a ministry to assist foster children and their families. He is also a member of the Park Hills Lions Club. Before becoming a judge, Sechrest was on the board of directors for the Mineral Area College Foundation, the United Way of St. Francois County, the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Ozarks Federal Savings and Loan.


MAC has been an integral part of Sechrest’s life. It is the reason that his family lives in this community.


His grandfather, Bob Sechrest, was the first basketball coach and long-time athletic director at MAC.


His grandmother, Eileen Sechrest, was a career elementary school teacher and administrator in the North County School District, and believed that MAC was the greatest asset in this community.


His parents, Bob Sechrest, Jr. and Mary Sechrest, were local school teachers before opening their own business in Park Hills.


His brother Lance Sechrest and sister Jill Wagner continue operating businesses and raising their families in the local community.


Simmons Distinguished Service Award


The N. Gayle and Rowena Simmons Distinguished Service Award is one of Mineral Area College’s highest honors. It is given to a community member who has had an affiliation with the college and distinguished themselves in outstanding community service. MAC is pleased to honor Tony Myers of Farmington with this year’s award.




Myers is the current President of the Mineral Area College Foundation Board and has served as a Board member since 2005. During that time, he served with Dr. Gayle Simmons and was a supporter of the matching funds program that Dr. Simmons pioneered, which continues to have a significant impact on Mineral Area College and students. He also represented MAC for several years, providing leadership training and development for many regional businesses through the Missouri Customized Training Program.


Myers’ leadership has been instrumental in the development of educational opportunities throughout our region. He is a founding member and current President of the Industry and Education Partnership, an organization of local employers and schools working together to help students gain training, transferable skills, and experience with regional production and manufacturing businesses to help prepare them for jobs after graduation. In recognition, he and US Tool were honored as the State’s Employer of the Year for 2023.


Through his work with the MAC Foundation and Industry and Education Partnership, Myers’ leadership and expertise have helped MAC expand its offerings of in-demand Industry and Technology programs and training facilities, including the newly opened Industry and Technology Center. His leadership efforts will have a lasting impact on Mineral Area College and the entire region as we see a more skilled workforce prepared to fill roles at companies throughout the area.


Myers is an active member of the community, having served on the Farmington Chamber of Commerce, UMSL Advisory Board, Missouri Association of Customized Training Board, and as a member of The Governor’s Missouri Training & Employment Council. He is the Vice President of the Farmington Industrial Development Authority, a member of The IDA of St Francois County, President of the Unitec Foundation, a member of the New Era Bank Board and Western Governors University Board, and was recently recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Farmington Chamber of Commerce.


Born and raised in Fredericktown, Myers graduated from Fredericktown High School in 1982 and is a proud Blackcat. He initially attended Missouri State University on a football scholarship, where he sustained a career-ending knee injury and transferred to the University of Missouri–Columbia, where he graduated with a degree in Business, Communications, and Social Behavioral Sciences in 1987.

He attended MAC for three summer semesters. He said he may not have graduated without the attention received in the smaller classes and the caring instruction he received at MAC.


Myers worked in Human Resources Leadership roles at Citicorp, MCI, and Commerce Bank in St. Louis before moving to Farmington, where he got his first experience as a manager at Little Tikes. He continued that path with Huffy Bicycles, The Molding Company, and then 13 years at the executive level with Centene Corporation, in St. Louis, retiring as Vice President of Human Resources in 2016.

It didn’t take long for Myers to realize retirement wasn’t for him, wanting to continue to contribute to the development of people, he joined US Tool in 2017, where he is currently the Vice President of Human Resources.


Myers has been married to his wife, De De, for 26 years. She is a MAC graduate, an elementary special education instructor and was honored as the 2022-23 Teacher of the Year in the De Soto School District.


They live in Farmington and are the proud parents of two cats, Lucy and Chester.