Audio: Distinguished Alumni Class of 2022 honored at North Central Missouri College Pirates Ball

North Central Missouri College Website V2 (NCMC)

The North Central Missouri College Foundation’s Distinguished Alumni Class of 2022 was honored at the Pirates Ball on the main NCMC campus in Trenton on March 25th. Doctor Jennifer Collier Blacksmith, Jackie Persell Soptic, and Barbara Higdon Spencer were recognized and spoke.

Doctor Jennifer Blacksmith played basketball for NCMC. After receiving her associate’s degree, she got a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a master’s in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri. She received a doctorate in School Psychology from the University of Missouri in 2014.

Blacksmith has served as the Director of Behavioral Health with the Northeast Missouri Health Council. She came to the NCMC campus last year and presented a program for students, staff, and the public about mental health, trauma, and brain development.

Blacksmith said Trenton helped lay the foundation for her career and where she is today, and told a story of being on the basketball team at NCMC with Coach Max Mothersbaugh.



Jackie Soptic completed her associate’s degree from NCMC in 1989. After graduating, she taught preschool for one year.

Soptic started working part-time as a caseworker for the Workforce Development Program with the Green Hills Planning Commission. The position became full-time, and she later became the director of the Workforce Development Program and the assistant director of the Green Hills Planning Commission. She served as a transition director for the last two years of her employment and retired from the Green Hills Planning Commission in 2022 after 33 years with the organization.

Soptic and her husband Warren co-own A. S. A. P Locksmith. She served three terms on the Trenton City Council and volunteers for multiple organizations.

Soptic commented that NCMC helped start her economic development education and career.

She told a story that she said highlighted the value of having a community college in a community. She explained that through her work, she attended a debriefing to Saint Joseph leadership as part of a mock site selection. She was surprised at what was identified as the most important thing for the city to have if it was going to attract business. The biggest thing reported was that Saint Joseph did not have a community college.



Barbara Spencer received her associate’s degree from Trenton Junior College in 1972. She transferred to Northeast Missouri State University, which is now Truman State University, and received a Bachelor of Science in English Education, a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and certifications in Speech and Theatre, and a master’s in English Education and a certification in Library Science.

Spencer taught one year at Jameson after college and then moved to the Trenton R-9 School District where she stayed until she retired in 2004 after 29 years of teaching. She returned to NCMC to teach on a part-time basis until she retired in 2017.

Spencer and her husband Steve own Precision Machine and Welding of Trenton. She has volunteered with multiple community organizations and expressed her appreciation for a wonderful experience.

She said Pirate blood was in her system when she transferred to Northeast Missouri State University.



Non-traditional NCMC Student Abner Neill was the master of ceremonies at the Pirates Ball on March 25th.

President Lenny Klaver was unable to attend the event because he was at the Higher Learning Commission’s annual meeting. Klaver wrote a letter, and Neill read it on his behalf.

The letter noted that NCMC has the highest graduation rate of the 12 Missouri Community College Association members. NCMC is nine percent above the next closest and 14% above the average of the other community college members in the state.

Klaver’s letter said the NCMC Foundation and its donors were priceless.

Foundation Director Alicia Endicott announced the Foundation is embarking on a $9.9 million campaign to build a student center in Trenton, expand the Savannah campus, and increase scholarships.

A reverse raffle was held as a fundraiser for the Voyage Fund. The three winners of the $600 grand prize were Don Dalrymple, Connie Hoffman, and Ariel Houston. They agreed to split the money, and two donated their share back to the college. There were a few other prizes for some of the tickets drawn.

Great Western Dining provided the meal, and the NCMC men’s basketball team helped serve it. Soca Jukebox also played music at the event.

The Pirates Ball is held annually to honor distinguished alumni, Voyage Fund donors, and NCMC family and friends. The Voyage Fund is an annual giving campaign to raise unrestricted funds to help meet the unmet needs of the college.