OCCC grad goes from runaway teen to student leader

Annalyn Gill

Many within the OCCC community have heard of Annalyn Gill, since she was one of a handful of students to receive the President’s Award for Excellence at a ceremony this spring.

Some may have gotten a chance to sit down and chat with her personally, but beyond knowing that Gill works in the advisement office and is involved with many of OCCC’s clubs and leadership programs, few know her story and how she came to OCCC.

“I have a story,” said Gill as she sat down to chat at a local Oklahoma City Starbucks.

Like so many in life, Gill had many chances to conform and settle for what life had presented her. What sets Gill apart is that she actually chose not to settle for anything less than what she decided would make her happy.

Gill’s story started at the age of 16 when she ran away from home in Oklahoma after her father refused to help her go to school at the University of California in Los Angeles. Gill fled to California by herself where she graduated from Point Level High School at the age of 17.

While Gill was in school she found a job at Stuart Anderson Black Angus Restaurant. There she worked for 18 years as both a field account manager and general manager, after realizing that UCLA wasn’t a financially feasible option for her.

Eighteen years later, Gill decided this was not what she wanted to do with her life.

Gill soon got her state security license to be a broker and was going to seminars to learn more about financing, when she got a call from her father in Oklahoma.

He asked her to come back since her brother was very ill.

Gill packed up her things and headed for Oklahoma.

She found a job working as a broker in the oil and gas business, eventually becoming a success in the business world.

But she still wasn’t satisfied. Gill knew she wanted something else.

She once again listened to her heart and chose to pursue happiness instead of money.

Gill soon found that going into the Peace Corps is what she wanted to do. Gill wanted to not just support a community, but to teach that community to sustain itself.

Through education in politics and civil government, Gill decided she wanted to empower people to make things better. Gill knew that to join the Peace Corps and fulfill her dream that she would have to earn a college degree.

Like so many others, Gill wasn’t a traditional student and had become accustomed to a professional lifestyle. She decided she would have to ease into the change, and she found the perfect place to do just that at OCCC.

At OCCC Gill thrived, becoming involved with the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Advocates of Peace, Gay-Straight Alliance, The Leadership Council, and the Hispanic Organization to Promote Hope, just to name a few.

Gill achieved success with Advocates of Peace, becoming the co-president and helping grow the club from just 10 or 12 members to over 200 members in just the course of one semester. Gill saw similar success as co-chair of The Leadership Council. She saw club attendance at the bi-weekly council meetings increase from 15 groups to over 45 groups.

Gill saw success not only in leadership but also in academics as well, becoming one of the few students to be named a Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholar with the help of Dr. Marion Paden.

“The more people you meet, the more doors open,” Gill said, emphasizing the importance of joining clubs and organizations on campus.

Gill graduated in the spring of 2011 with an associate degree in political science/pre-law. With the help of Debra Vaughn in Career Services, she found a job as an academic adviser, which is now helping her to fulfill her dream.

Gill plans to attend the University of Oklahoma and earn a bachelor’s degree in political science. Then she hopes to join the Peace Corps, and someday become a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.

To contact Matt Hatcher, email onlineeditor@occc.edu.

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