Rep. Lucas recognizes graduates, university’s land-grant impact
(STILLWATER, Okla., Dec. 17, 2022) — For U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, a long career in Congress became a dream during his time at Oklahoma State University.
Saturday, Lucas reminded the more than 1,100 graduates at OSU’s fall commencement ceremonies that those dreams can come true, no matter where any of the graduates came from.
Lucas, a 1982 agricultural economics alumnus, represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District, which takes up nearly half of the state’s land mass. A native of Cheyenne in Roger Mills County, his high school graduating class consisted of 40 people. Yet, he said, he never let his rural roots deter him from the career that would ultimately take him to Washington, D.C.
“Remember this, the size of your hometown does not have to determine the size of your dreams,” he said.
OSU President Kayse Shrum presided over OSU’s 145th commencement and was joined at the lectern with Lucas; Dr. Ki Cole, OSU faculty chair; Jarold Callahan, OSU A&M Board of Regents chair; and Riley Pritzlaff, Student Government Association president.
“For many of us, our time at OSU played a very critical role in our lives,” Callahan said. “Whether it was learning skills for our future careers, taking advantage of leadership opportunities on campus, or making friends that will last a lifetime, OSU has made a difference in your life.”
Dr. Shrum also bestowed an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters upon Gene Rainbolt, a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame who made a name for himself in the Oklahoma banking industry and has been a lifelong supporter of higher education. His son, David, was there to receive the degree.
Higher education is what Lucas said will continue to push Oklahoma into the future. He discussed the mission of the land-grant institution and how OSU helped his parents’ generation through the Dust Bowl. Lucas also mentioned those same land-grant institutions are solving today’s problems, and that the graduates Saturday are going to be crucial for the state’s future.
“Ultimately, you are all the reason why Oklahoma State will be the preeminent land-grant institution,” Lucas said. “Your innovation, your discoveries, your wealth of knowledge and generosity to give back to OSU will help make our university a better place for generations. You are all examples that OSU is and will for generations continue to be the preeminent land-grant university.
“I believe now more than ever, Oklahoma and our nation, the graduates of land-grant universities, you are the ones who will go on to educate, serve our communities, solve problems and improve our understanding of the world around us. Going forward, I challenge you to always remember what it means to be a Cowboy. Remember to challenge yourself intellectually and never stop learning.”
Alyssa Parker graduated in the summer but was finally able to walk across the stage Saturday. She said it was a surreal experience. Parker earned her degree in university studies from the Ferguson College of Agriculture and is working toward becoming a high school ag teacher in Tennessee.
“It didn’t feel real at first, but now it feels really real,” said Parker, a native of Yuba City, California.
Megan Wines, who earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology, had a similar reaction. Wines said she took what Lucas said about graduation being the first step in her career to heart.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Wines is hoping to go into the forensic science field and said she will always remember her time in Stillwater.
“I am just going to miss the friends and the people,” she said. “Everyone is so friendly. You never really find people like you do in Stillwater anywhere else.”
Saturday morning’s exercises recognized students from the Ferguson College of Agriculture, the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology and the College of Arts and Sciences. The afternoon consisted of ceremonies for the Spears School of Business and the College of Education and Human Sciences. Graduate student ceremonies were held Friday.