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Western boutique and art magnifique: an alumni spotlight

One of the ways Oklahoma Christian University strives to foster connections between the university and students, especially graduates, is through the Alumni Relations program.

The purpose of the program is to keep students in the Oklahoma Christian loop, even after a student graduates.

“Our purpose is in our name,” Aubrie Ross, head of the Alumni Relations program, said, “We really put an emphasis on building that connection while [students are] in school, so that it continues after they’ve graduated.”

Oklahoma Christian also provides an alumni blog that showcases former students and what they have done since graduating college, keeping alumni in the minds of current students and other alumni.

One such alumni is Savannah Mincey, who attended Oklahoma Christian from 2017 until she graduated with a bachelor’s in marketing management in May of 2021. Mincey also helped lead women’s chapel, and was the vice president of AMA, among other things.

Mincey works full time at Tinker Air Force Base, but also had the dream to open her own boutique.

“It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was in high school,” Mincey said., “Pursuing that degree in marketing was really helpful, and not having to find an outside source for any marketing.”

Mincey’s dream became a reality with the recent launch of her online store, – The Tailgate.

“It’s a southern and western wear boutique,” Mincey said, “We pride ourselves in being size inclusive. We carry sizes from extra small all the way through 3XL, which is not super common, especially in western fashion.”

Mincey also said she gives Oklahoma Christian credit for her growth in confidence, which helped her when it came to opening The Tailgate.

“Obviously, [confidence] is not what I went into college seeking,” Mincey said., “But it’s one of the things I left with. OC, and especially the staff in the business department, gave me the knowledge that I needed.”

Another notable alumnus is Thomas Smith. Attending Oklahoma Christian from 1999-2002, Thomas was the vice president of Delta Gamma Sigma and graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts.

During his time at Oklahoma Christian, Smith said he was drawn to art as well as, museums.

“Professor David Crimson gave me some great advice, if museums interested me, I should try to find an internship to experience the work firsthand,.” Smith said.

Smith said he credits his connection with the late Gary Schrek, to his securing an internship at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

“I instantly saw the impact that museums could have on communities and the type of long-lasting work that a museum career could offer,.” Smith said., “By the end of the summer, I had a real direction for my life and career.”

After his time at Oklahoma Christian, Smith went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma and he became an art historian and curator.

Smith said his studies at Oklahoma Christian granted him a deeper lens through which to view the world of art.

“I like to think that my fine arts degree gave me a deeper understanding of the creative process that often translated into kinship with the artists I later worked with,.” Smith said.

For the past 13 years, Smith has served as the director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum.

“As director, I lead the Petrie Institute to unprecedented growth and national stature by spearheading a successful endowment campaign,” Smith said., “I also transformed the institute’s holdings by acquiring multiple important collections, including one of the most valuable gifts of art in the museum’s history.”

Smith and his wife, Lucia Colombari, are now planning on moving back to Oklahoma as he has been named the new director of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

“I consider the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art to be the best among public universities,” said Smith., “I aim to set a new standard for excellence in programming, delivering meaning to an expanded diverse audience and creating on-campus visitor experience for students, communities, state residents and tourists.”

Both Mincey and Smith had advice for current Oklahoma Christian students.

“Don’t be afraid to ask a question because there is always something to be learned.” Mincey said., “Don’t be afraid to seek advice. I mean, I’ve graduated, and I still reach out to some of my old professors when I have questions.”

To learn more about Mincey’s boutique on her website and Smith’s recent hiring at the University of Oklahoma.

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