Every year, I sit down to a blank screen and try to write a message to those graduates who came before me, those who followed and those yet to come. I do so to continually refresh those ideas instilled within me both as a student and a former employee of my alma mater. This year’s letter comes at a special time in the history of Central. The “Harvard of the Plains” is celebrating 125 years as an institution. As Oklahoma’s oldest institution of higher learning, this is a big deal. It is also offers a moment of reflection on where our university has been, where it is now and where it is headed.
Like most things in this world, my view of UCO is relative to the time I spent there. When I moved into Murdaugh Hall in the fall of 2002, I did so, because UCO was my second choice. All my life, I wanted to attend some big school that shall remain nameless to the south of Oklahoma City. Upon visiting and touring, this kid from small town Frederick was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place. I was worried about getting lost, making friends and being a small fish in a really big pond. For these reasons and many more, I decided to attend UCO. I wanted to be a broadcaster and after attending an open house event I was positive this was the university for me.
Over the course of five years (yeah, I did a victory lap), I slowly retired all my crimson and cream. Bronze and Blue was now my color of choice. I was encouraged to get involved and try to make a difference. I found causes I believed in. I volunteered. I made lifelong friends. I became the man I am today, because I invested in my university while it invested in me.
13 years later, our university is celebrating 125 years. No longer is it a second tier school. For many students, it is their first choice. The athletic program is something to brag about again. More students are involved on campus than ever before. New and beautiful facilities are opening every year. Alumni support grows with every generation. In fact, the university just completed a $40 million capital campaign. As a fundraiser, I can tell you goals like this aren’t accomplished if people don’t believe in the direction an institution is heading. It is a great time to be a Broncho.
Deep down inside, I wish I could be a freshman student finishing their second week of classes. I so vividly recall the sense of pride, anxiety and discovery. Alas, the Math and Science Department hasn’t developed time travel, yet. So, I sit here in Seattle, WA raising money for a local youth development agency. I do so, because my university prepared me with the tools and work ethic to accomplish anything I desire. That is powerful and for that I can only offer my gratitude.
Thanks UCO and happy birthday. You’ve never looked better.
Thanks for entering my world,