With more than 3,000 Oklahoma Christian University alumni in the North Texas area, the North Texas Alumni chapter for Oklahoma Christian University is uniting past students and empowering prospective students during its thirteenth year of existence.
Alumnus Zach Giles, an‘87 graduate, has been involved with the chapter for the past 10 years.
“This chapter has been established to promote Oklahoma Christian University in the community and to potential students, in an effort to rally graduates’ support in the university’s educational mission,” Giles said. “It also exists to gain financial support for the university and to host professional and social events among the members of the chapter. Any graduate living in North Texas is automatically a member.”
North Texas Alumni hosts events throughout the year for its members, including a dinner and auction, Eagle Exit, Finals Feast, OC Roadshow, Texas Night Out at the Rangers and other sporting and networking events.
The dinner and auction was the most recent event North Texas Alumni Treasurer Suzie Saffle helped plan this year.
“This was our 13th annual dinner, and over the years, we have raised close to $450,000 and given away over $300,000 in scholarships,” Saffel said. “We usually have 250-300 people attend. We have a huge silent auction and a live auction, a dinner and awards. The whole event is a fundraiser geared toward raising money for scholarships”
Giles said the dinner and auction is the primary source of funding for the scholarships designated to North Texas students on their way to Oklahoma Christian. The North Texas Alumni Board plays a large role in facilitating the event.
“This night is only successful because of the hard work that the Board does to pull this off — it is a lot of work.” Giles said. “Also, because of the generous alumni and friends of OC who sponsor tables, donate auction items and bid on auction items.”
Freshman Garrett McManaman is a recipient of the North Texas Alumni scholarship. He said he has attended the Alumni dinner and auction for as long as he could remember and has always looked up to the alumni who attend.
“It was a lot of people that I want to be like one day,” McManaman said. “You want to go to school and have fun, but obviously you want to learn about your career and more about Christian education. Seeing the alumni was encouraging, they were like role models. The North Texas Alumni encouraged me towards Christian education and helped me get there.”
In addition to raising funds for students, the dinner also honors alumni who contribute to Oklahoma Christian and their communities. The alumni group accomplishes this by granting awards to alumni from North Texas as well as to Oklahoma Christian employees.
The Lawson Award is given to alumni who live in the North Texas area. The award is named after Richard and Pat Lawson, an esteemed Oklahoma Christian alumni couple residing in North Texas.
“Awardees of the Lawson Award are selected by the North Texas Alumni Board,” Giles said. “The Lawson Award recognizes exception alumni who have rendered distinctive service to the university, church, community or society as a whole. These recipients represent the very best of OC and are making a real difference for God in our community and in their respective walks of life.”
Giles said North Texas Alumni also chooses two current or past employees at Oklahoma Christian to honor those who have had a lasting impact on campus. This year’s honorees were Coach Dan Hayes and Julie Anderson. Past honorees include Max Dobson, Joe McCormack, Jim Wilson, James Cale and Mike Gipson.
“You make some of your life-long friends in college and life can really get in the way of connecting with them,” Giles said. “Having this group here helps us get together to keep, maintain and build those relationships. It also is a great way for us to talk with new Eagles to share our experiences and encourage them to attend Oklahoma Christian. It is very rewarding to know that the work we do, the funds we raise, the encouragement we give helps many students go to OC that otherwise might not be able to attend, and that one thing may be one of the most important life changing events in their lives.”