In an upper level journalism class, 13 students featured faculty and staff members for a personality profile assignment. The students were not allowed to interview the faculty or staff member, but were instructed to interview their friends, family and co-workers.
By Jami Adams
Lori Michelle Stephens continues to create a legacy in not only her professional life as an Oklahoma Christian University board member but also in her personal life as a mother, wife and friend.
Her childhood friend, Twila Adams said growing up, Michelle’s fascination with the 40th President of the United States contributed to her interest in politics and fostered her serious ambitions while growing up near the tiny town of Sweetwater, OK.
“Michelle’s most valued possessions were her signed picture of Paul Harvey and her Ronald Reagan memorabilia,” Adams said. “She was a huge fan of Reagan.”
Throughout her childhood, Michelle participated as a member of the 4-H club, where she showed livestock and participated in public speaking. She also played basketball, was active in her local church and closely followed politics.
After graduating from Sweetwater High School, Michelle spent her first year attending Eureka College in Illinois, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater. She then transferred to Oklahoma Christian College, OCC, where she was highly involved on campus as the first female student body president.
At Oklahoma Christian, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and met her husband, Brian. Michelle and Brian married in the summer of 1990 before she went on to graduate school.
Michelle received her Doctorate of Juris Prudence from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She practiced law as the assistant attorney general for Oklahoma, and later joined the Kerr Center as founder of the Public Policy and Rural Development program. According to Brian, Michelle served as a commissioner of human services and on the State Board of Education.
Michelle currently serves on the Oklahoma Christian University board of trustees, the Weatherford Board of Education, and the Custer County Republican Committee. These positions are in addition to her volunteer positions in the Weatherford, OK community, where she and Brian live with their two daughters, Reagan, 16, and Madison, 15.
Michelle became a stay-at-home mom after Madison was born. Michelle has taken on work outside the home, with her children older now, as a self-employed attorney working mostly with business transactions and estate planning.
Education Professor Joanie Gieger, Michelle’s college friend, said Michelle’s professional accomplishments and major life events are remarkable. However, her personal life exceeds them all and will be the legacy she leaves behind for close family and friends, according to Gieger.
“Initially, she was going to be the first woman president of the United States, so she always had the political aspirations, but I guess along the way, after she got married and had kids that became her priority,” Gieger said.
Brian said Michelle consistently shows an effort to care for others in the roles of advocate and confidant.
“She is always thoughtful of others by writing notes of encouragement and doing little baking projects for them, going out of her way to make them feel good or important or special, and when she’s had a friend in need, makes a point to get there,” Brian said. “Being married to Michelle has taught me not to wait for somebody to ask you to help, but to look for ways you can help.”
Brian said he would describe Michelle as a very outgoing, driven person who is not interested in getting ahead of people, but interested in bringing people along with her to a better place or to a better quality of life.