Osborn declares 'future bright' for USAO grads

Flanked by college faculty, State Rep. Leslie Osborn charges USAO grads to dream, build and serve others in the years ahead. Osborn presented the fall commencement address. Seated on her left is USAO President John Feaver. On her right is State Sen. Ron Justice. Behind her is Dr. Darryel Reigh, professor of chemistry.

Osborn declares 'future bright' for USAO grads


CHICKASHA -Rebutting the often-gloomy attitudes fostered by a 24-hour news cycle, State Rep. Leslie Osborn invited graduates to invest themselves into Oklahoma’s bright future during the fall commencement ceremony at the University of Science and Arts.

“In my job, as part of the Oklahoma legislature,” Osborn noted, “I hear the same gloom and doom that you hear, every time I turn on the news or read a newspaper.

“But, remember, the media loves scare stories. They sell ad space. Tonight I want to tell you what I see in Oklahoma’s future. I see a state poised for great things.”

A member of the State House since 2008, Osborn addressed 83 graduates and their families at the ceremony Dec. 10. In addition to her credentials as a state legislator, Osborn stressed her many years as a small business owner, wife, mother and active member of her community as providing the fuel for her optimism.

Citing the reversal of historical trends that saw Oklahoma’s best and brightest leaving the state for greener pastures in places like California, Osborn took pride in noting that, “Californians are leaving their state and moving to Oklahoma.” 

“You ask, ‘Why would they do that?’ I’ll tell you why. Oklahoma is a great place to live! Compared to other states we have lower crime rates. We have inexpensive housing. We have clean air to breathe. We have wide-open spaces. We have lower unemployment and a state ready to welcome new businesses and citizens,” she noted, before adding, “and don’t forget, one of the most respected public liberal arts universities in the US – and you will now hold a degree from it!”

From that premise, Osborn laid out an agenda of seven things that she hoped the graduating class would consider doing as they made the transition from the campus to the workplace.

First among these was her plea for the graduates to remain in Oklahoma, keeping the state’s investment in them in the place where it would do the most good.

“We need you,” Osborn observed, “Your talent, your ideas, your potential – don’t be wooed away by the shining stars of Dallas or Chicago.

“Go, if you must, but come back to the state that nurtured you and be a permanent part of it.”

 She also placed emphasis on the importance of a strong work ethic, noting that, “attaining your degree is just the first step in your career path.”

Osborn lauded the importance of building strong families. “Career is important, but who you come home to every night is more important.

“When I graduated from college with a degree in business administration I worked in several jobs but never quite found my niche.  After a few years my husband, Tim, and I decided to start a family.  I did what many people today would say was backwards, but for me, it was so right.

“I stayed home and raised two children, Will and Katie, who are both in college now attaining their degrees.  I started a home-based business that would allow me to work from home, thereby allowing me to be there to raise them.  I served on several boards and commissions and worked on growing my business. We drove our cars longer, we waited longer to build our home and I never regretted it for a minute.”

“Life,” Osborn offered, “is what we make of it at the time. Success is measured by what you build from the pieces that come into your life and how you put them together.”

For her fourth point, Osborn stressed the important of community service and civic duty.

“We do not live in this world alone,” she observed. “There were people who helped you get where you are today. Pay it forward. Help someone besides yourself.”

Building from this point, Osborn recommended that the graduates invest their belief into something “bigger than yourself,” citing her own faith as a crucial component to keeping both her successes and failures in perspective.

She later cited the importance of remaining “an informed citizen” from the local to the global level.

“We live in an awesome country. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be an American, but with that honor comes responsibility. Honor the troops who fight every day to keep our freedom.”

Finally, Osborn closed out her remarks with an admonition for graduates to be ambitious.

Recalling her own experiences in transitioning from a small-business owner to the state representative for the 47th district, Osborn recommended that graduates should always “keep your possibilities open. When opportunities arise, consider them, weigh them out and dream big!”

Presiding over the ceremony was Dr. John Feaver, president of the college. “With your degree and the skills and abilities that it represents, I ask each of you to emerge as one within the community in which you choose to work and live to lead in the effort to improve not only your life and that of your family and friends, but to improve also the quality of life for those who are your neighbors, the fellow citizens of your community and beyond.”

Feaver also introduced State Sen. Ron Justice among the dignitaries seated on the stage.

Claremore resident Patsy Jo Heidlage, president of the USAO Alumni Association, presented the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Graduate Award to Andrea Jones.

Jones graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of art degree in English with minors in Spanish, liberal arts and drama. She is from Covington, Ohio.

While at USAO, she was named a Brad Henry International Scholar in 2010 and spent a semester abroad in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom. She received several USAO Alumni Scholarships and placed second in the 2009 Oklahoma EPSCoR Research Contest.

She was named to the Alpha Psi Omega National Honorary Theatre Society, the Hypatia Honor Society, the National Scholars Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society, Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities and the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society. Jones was a member of the 2008 Oklahoma All Collegiate Honors Band.

Jones participated in several USAO drama productions including Lysistrata, West Side Story andTwelfth Night. She was the vice president of the USAO Secular Student Alliance, president of the USAO Sprench Club and was a member of the USAO Drama Club, Student Ambassadors, Sociology Club, African American Association and served as a student tutor. She also performed as part of the USAO Concert Choir and Wind Ensemble.

“She represents the epitome of what we wish for in a USAO graduate. She was a rare treat as a student, submitting coursework that reached graduate levels of complexity and insight while approaching all challenges with poise and maturity,” said Dr. Shelly Rees, assistant professor of English, in her recommendation of Jones.

Jones’ parents accepted the award on her behalf, as Jones had previous commitments to the Chickasha Community Theater’s production of Miracle on 34th Street underway Dec. 9-12.

Six seniors received outstanding graduate awards from the USAO Faculty Association for academic divisions.

Andrea Jones received distinction from the Division of Arts and Humanities. Amber Caudill, a psychology major from Duncan, and economics major, Eric J. Monsebais of Chickasha were named the outstanding graduates for the Division of Business and Social Science.

Speech language pathology major Emily Perry, from Chickasha, and Margaret Wright, a deaf education major from Broken Arrow, were distinguished by the Division of Education and Speech Language Pathology. Ricky Meeks, a biology major from Chickasha, was named outstanding graduate for the Division of Math, Science and Physical Education.

The ceremony began with the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” processional performed by Dr. Stephen Weber, associate professor of music. Graduating music major Scott Pitts of Comanche performed "Think of Me" written by Mark Schultz.

Weber, Dr. Ken Bohannon, associate professor of music, and Dr. Jan Hanson, professor of music, led graduates and guests in singing “The College Hymn.” Dr. Dan Hanson, professor of music, performed the recessional, “The Great Gate of Kiev” by Modeste Mussorgsky.

Copies of the ceremony will be available on DVD in the USAO Media and Community Relations office or by phone at 405-574-1318.

Feaver issued 51 bachelor of science degrees, 30 bachelor of arts degrees and two bachelor of fine arts degrees.

Receiving bachelor of fine arts degrees were:

Enid --Nicole ReneéLanders

Woodward -- Sarah Dawn Castor 

Receiving bachelor of science degrees were:

Anadarko -- Whitney Rhae Bellamy

Ardmore -- Nikolette Kyrie Hastings, Joshua Randale Freeman

Blanchard -- Sylvia Irene Franks, Patricia Ann Garrard, Coebe Nicole Howell, Meekyoung Lee Worrilow

Broken Arrow -- Margaret Ann Wright

Cache -- Whitney Camille Sanders

Chickasha -- Debby Lee Adams, Alexander Glen Beene, Whitney Ann Brown, Samuel Isaac Cassmeyer, Juan Antonio Charqueno, Alana Christine Duffle, Tara Kay Ellis, Jennifer Elizabeth Everson, Joshua Mark Everson, Phillip Blake Howell, Jasmine R. Jantzen, Mark Isaac Jernigan, Kai Levi Kirby, Ricky Don Meeks, Jamie Lynn Shepherd, Lindy Nicole Summerford, Erica Nichole Zoch

Del City -- Chancie D. Godwin                        

Duncan -- Amber Kristine Caudill

Lawton -- Sarah Ramona McGlothlin, Emily Louise Perry, Kimberley Kaye Young

Lindsay -- Holden Chase Howell

Marlow -- Anna Drue Frazier

Maysville -- Jennifer Allison, Kate Giamelle

Mustang -- Andrea D. Gibson, Elisabeth R. Ponce-Garcia

Norman -- Sarah Elizabeth Broberg, Kendra Don Wilson

Oklahoma City -- Machensie Leigh Campbell, Chelsi Nicole Hilmes, Candace Marie Hunter, Valerie Dyanne Mabry, Isela Perez         

Tuttle -- Michelle Nicole Mason                       

Out of State

Palatine, IL -- Terri Lynn Lagunas

San Antonio, TX -- Troy Wade Krueger

Troup, TX -- Beau Justis Bentley

Waco, TX -- Henry Charles Golightly III                       

Out of Country

Conakry, Guinea -- Nfaly Berete

Dakar, Senegal -- Aita Gueye

Receiving bachelor of arts degrees were:

Ardmore --Schuyler Cezanne Austin

Blanchard -- Jessica Marie Barivieva, Alicia Ann Fairless, Daniel Agustine Fuentes

Chickasha -- Antonio Barros Junior, Sterling Edward Jones, Dustin Eugene Kennell, Dawn ReneéMartinez, Robert Ryan Newbrough, Eric J. Monsebais, Shannon L. Robertson, Laron Jena Short, Katelin Rebecca Thomson

Claremore -- Bree Danielle Elwell

Comanche -- Scott William Pitts

Duncan -- Danielle Rae Sims

El Reno -- Joseph Erik Shelton

Elgin -- Amber DeAnn Wuergler

Elmore City -- Sarah Beth Casey

Harrah -- Nicole Lynn Garland

Kingfisher -- Jory Michael VanCleave

Lawton -- Laura Grace Haithcock

Marlow -- Heather Nicole Reimer

Ninnekah -- Rhonda Belle Taylor

Oklahoma City --Heather Kathleen Isaac, Devlin Ray Lamb

Tuttle -- Jamie Brooke, Sagayo Hilton

Union City -- Joshua Keith Miller                                                                                                                              

Out of State

Covington, OH – Andrea Marie Jones