DURANT – Six Oklahoma State University students began their fall semesters with a boost in confidence and coin. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Scholarship Advisement Program (SAP) recently gifted a $350,000 endowment to the university as part of OSU’s billion-dollar scholarship campaign, “Branding Success.” This, combined with the Pickens Legacy Scholarship match, will bring the total amount of scholarship money to $1.05 million. This marks the largest donation by a Native American tribe in the history of the university. “We are pleased to partner with OSU in this endeavor. It helps ensure a bright future for not only these students today, but for others to come. I am proud to be aiding our people in earning a degree from such a sterling university,” stated Chief Gregory E. Pyle.
“OSU graduates more Native American students than any other university in the United States,” said OSU President Burns Hargis during a luncheon celebrating the donation on Monday. Taking this fact into account, along with the Pickens match, led SAP to choose OSU as the recipient of the donation. “It [OSU] just seems like a good fit for Choctaw students,” said SAP Scholarship Development Specialist, Shauna Williams. The six students receiving the scholarship were awarded the funds near the beginning of the school year, and were formerly congratulated at Monday’s lunch by President Hargis, Chief Pyle and other foundation dignitaries. “Words can’t even describe how thankful I am,” said graduate student Brittany Snapp, Southeastern Oklahoma State University alum, as she thanked Choctaw Nation and OSU for her award. Snapp is a former staff writer for the Durant Daily Democrat.
Other recipients include junior Business major, Chelsea Porter; junior Pre-Law major, Morgan Two Crow; junior Animal Pre-Vet major, Jessica Collins; senior Engineering major, Luke Serner; and grad student pursuing her MBA, Crysta Watson. These six students mark the first of what is sure to be many beneficiaries of the endowment. SAP will continue to work with OSU to select students over the coming years. The scholarship is shared between the Anne Jones Slocum Scholarship and the Choctaw Nation Business and Leadership Scholarship, with Watson being the sole recipient of the latter at this time. The Slocum Scholarship honors Choctaw OSU alumni Anne Slocum and does not require a certain major, but does have upperclassmen preference. There are already many scholarships aimed at incoming freshmen, and “sometimes it takes the little bit of extra funding to get them [upperclassmen] graduated,” stated Williams as she explained the preference. “It is very exciting to finally see it come to fruition,” declared Williams. This joint venture has been years in the making, with first mention beginning over two years ago. Finding the most effective way to utilize the funds by paring it with the Pickens Match took time, but in the end will maximize the impact for Choctaw students.