The Outstanding Alumnus Award is given each year to a former student of National Park Community College, Garland County Community College, or Quapaw Technical Institute in recognition of their personal life and career success. The award recipient will be honored by NPCC and also at the Arkansas Association of Two-year Colleges annual conference.
Otto Thorwarth, 2013 Outstanding Alumnus
Otto Thorwarth experienced a very illustrious 12-year career as a professional horse jockey capturing 1,500 wins and a number of riding titles. However, after six concussions, several broken bones, and a decade of bulimia, Thorwarth left racing to re-invent his life. Enrolling at National Park Community College, Thorwarth earned his Certificate of Proficiency as an Emergency Medical Technician in 2004.
Thorwarth worked for a short time as an EMT before God redirected his path back to racing. While riding at a track in Cincinnati, Thorwarth was asked to audition for a movie. Selected from over 1,000 professional jockeys nationwide, Thorwarth was cast as Ronnie Turcotte in the Walt Disney Pictures film Secretariat. "Otto became one of the most delightful finds of this whole film. He was fearless. And beyond that, there was a joy about that fearlessness," said director Randall Wallace.
Thorwarth is now retired from professional racing and is working on a new movie. Cowboys and Jesus which is being filmed in Hot Springs is a modern take on the Biblical story of the prodigal son. Thorwarth credits God for his life's success and shares his story at Churches and conferences. Thorwarth's complete biography can be seen on his website, ottothorwarth.com
Laryssa Blunt, 2012 Outstanding Alumna
Sometimes it's not where you are that is significant but, the distance you've traveled to get there. Laryssa Blunt calls herself a distance traveler. She began her journey at age 16 when she became a single parent. With much encouragement, she began her education as a non-traditional student at Garland County Community College. However, her nursing career was interrupted by her enlistment in the military. After she fulfilled her military obligation, Blunt returned to Quapaw Technical Institute in 1992 to complete her PN certification. She worked for several years before returning to National Park Community College and earning her RN Degree in 2007.
For nine years, Blunt was an NPCC Medical Professions instructor who encouraged her students to reach beyond themselves to achieve their best. She has served as President of the Health Occupations Division of the Arkansas Association for Career and Technical Education and as an advisor to the student association, HOSA. Often referred to as a cheerleader, Blunt's efforts on the NPCC campus have been credited with bringing success and growth to the NPCC Medical Professions program and to the technology center. Blunt has been honored as the Business and Professional Women's Young Careerist, the Sentinel-Record Peoples' Choice Award as Nurse of the Year, and ACTE Teacher of the Year. She has served on many community boards and has co-sponsored the Blunt/Welch Scholarship that benefits a nursing student. She is currently fulfilling a dream by working as an obstetrics nurse at National Park Medical Center.
If you know an outstanding alumnus, you can nominate them for this prestigious award. Complete the nomination form and submit by March 1st to Jane Yamauchi at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to the NPCC Development Office, 101 College Drive, Hot Springs, AR 71901.