It Takes a Family: Alicia and Elizabeth Working

Alicia Working (left) and her grandmother, Elizabeth Working, spend time hanging out on the campus that grew both of them into the women they are today. (Jessica Jackson/USAO)

It Takes a Family: Alicia and Elizabeth Working


Prospective students typically choose their college based on any number of reasons — the quality of the education, affordability and value, student life and location.

But students who choose the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma most often do so because of people.

USAO boasts an amazing and highly qualified faculty, friendly and hardworking staff and an inviting and spirited student body. And, of course, involved and passionate alumni.

Like many of her classmates, Alicia Working, a communication senior, chose USAO because of a person—one of the thousands of enthusiastic alumni. That person also happened to be her grandmother, Elizabeth Working.

Alicia grew up hearing her grandmother tell stories of college years at Oklahoma College for Women and remained curious about the institution. Elizabeth attended the OCW from 1954-1958.

“The experience that I had here was wonderful,” Elizabeth said. “The experience that I’m having now is great because I come back and we meet with old classmates; they are like sisters. We catch back up just where we took off.”

After OCW, Elizabeth went on to teach kindergarten, high school art and, after earning her master’s degree in counseling, worked as a school counselor. Alicia is pursuing a communication degree, expecting to graduate in the spring of 2015, and hopes to join the Peace Corps or City Year for a year or two and then continue her education.

When it came time to look for a college herself, Alicia looked all over before decided she needed an experience similar to the one her grandmother had more than five decades earlier.

“I knew I wanted something different and unique, and the type of friendship I could gain from a small university,” Alicia said. “I looked and looked. USAO had always been an overriding presence in my life… it was always in the back of my mind.”

Finding the Right Fit

Knowing her granddaughter so well, Elizabeth recognized Alicia needed to be the one to decide USAO was the school for her.

“Alicia is a person who figures out things for herself. I did try to lay down some sort of ground work but I don’t believe you can push someone in,” she said. “I am absolutely delighted beyond measure to have her here. But that’s something that has to come from her.”

She said it was gratifying to know that her granddaughter was walking the halls in the same buildings and sitting in the same classrooms she did as a young woman.

“I feel like she’s getting a great education here. Part of that greatness is the fact that it is a small school and that she’s an individual,” Elizabeth said. “She won’t realize what this means to her until she gets out.”

Much like Alicia, Elizabeth’s experience with the institution began before she even enrolled. Two acquaintances from her hometown of Checotah, Ina and Norma Bittle, attended OCW.

“I came here for a weekend (to visit) and that’s how it happened,” Elizabeth explained. “I never wanted a change.”

Building Relationships

One important benefit of the university both women share is the relationships that are built in the tight-knit community.

“Just as important as my education, which my grandmother has taught me, is the relationships you make with people,” Alicia said. “I have made friendships here that I will never stop cultivating.”

Elizabeth, who was a member of Tri Delta, describes her sorority sisters as lifelong friends.

“Alicia has garnered at least 15 grandmothers,” she said, laughing. “This has always meant such a great deal, and it has always been such a unique school.”

A shared university experience has strengthened an already strong bond between grandmother and granddaughter.

“Being here has made me realize even more that I appreciate my relationship with my grandmother,” Alicia said. “I feel like she’s more than just my grandmother. We have a very special relationship. She’s a friend; she’s a best friend. And I don’t think that’s something very many people feel.”

The shared college experiences for Alicia and her grandmother have only strengthened their relationship and their love for the institution.

“Seeing how it has raised my grandmother and how it was such a significant part of her journey—and how much it is changing my journey—has developed a deep pride in my university,” Alicia said. “I’ve never had a doubt about my love for this university and what it has done for me.”

It Takes a College

Realizing relationships are the key to USAO’s allure and success, we began our It Takes a College movement in 2013.

The premise is simple: Our alums, faculty, staff and students know our university’s plethora of benefits, and we need your help to share that message.

So if you agree that USAO is a place where curious minds thrive, then please join the rest of the USAO family in telling our story.

If you ever need help or details with our key selling points, visit

We don’t want to be Oklahoma’s best kept secret. We want to be discovered. It will take more than a handful of recruiters and a small marketing team. It will take each one of us who live out the university’s legacy every day. It will take a college!