A professor, award-winning journalist, rock star, elementary teacher, mechanical engineer and a founding father of OCCC will all be inducted into OCCC’s Alumni Hall of Fame at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, in the OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center atrium theater.
Business, professional, community achievements, service to the community, and/or past or present service to OCCC are the criteria to be nominated, said Alumni Relations and Community Development Associate Director Randy Cassimus.
He said since the first class in 2006, five to 10 individuals have been inducted each year.
This year’s inductees are:
Jackie Burns, professor and chair of Sociology and Anthropology/Women’s Studies at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. Burns said OCCC classes shaped the way she teaches.
“All the support and openness in the classrooms for discussion and the respect that the teachers gave to me as a student — that really influences how I manage my classes today as a professor,” she said.
Burns praised the sociology, psychology and history departments at OCCC. She said the professors were excellent, challenging her to continue her education.
“All of the faculty were super nice and the courses were challenging,” she said. “It really inspired me to go on to get my Ph.D in sociology.”
Burns encourages students to use the resources on campus.
“They had an excellent tutoring center and I was in there all the time,” she said. “That helped me throughout my academic career.
“Early on, Oklahoma City Community College instilled in me a very strong work ethic,” she said. “So it feels a little awkward being called out for doing what I’m supposed to be doing all along.”
Antonio Maria Delgado, journalist, said OCCC gave him the education to help him get a job “almost immediately.”
Delgado, an award-winning journalist who specializes in financial and political news, and investigative journalism, currently is a Latin American correspondent for the Miami Herald in Florida.
“[OCCC] gave me all I needed to know to get started in the profession, from writing … as a (Pioneer) reporter and then, as editor, to being able to know the different steps it takes to put out the news and putting out a newspaper … .”
Delgado said being inducted is an honor.
“Having the opportunity to go back to the college and participate in an event like this is real exciting.”
He encourages students to never give up.
“Keep at it. And if you have doubts, seek help. If you have difficulties with different problems, seek out help.
“You can come across wonderful tutors and [professors] that might be able to help you out and it’s crucial. It’s part of the development of a human being.”
Since he grew up in Moore, attending OCCC was always an option for Seether drummer John Humphrey.
“[OCCC] was a landmark building, a modern building that was seen every time you drove on the highway going from north Oklahoma City to the south side where I lived.”
Though his time at the college was brief, Humphrey said, the professors were great.
“I wasn’t there for music so I can’t say there was anyone who inspired me in the direction that I ultimately went, [but] I had a history teacher … who was very gracious and understood my aspirations, whether I was going to continue school or pursue music.”
Just a couple of semesters in, Humphrey said, his music career took off when his band at that time, the Nixons, were signed to a major record label.
“[That] required a lot of traveling so, unfortunately, I didn’t complete my [degree].”
Humphrey said being nominated to the Hall of Fame is unexpected. He said he is “humbled, honored and appreciative.”
“I don’t know if I’m in the same ilk of some of the other nominees past and present that have gone on to become professors, mechanical engineers, or continued their education, but … who knows, maybe I’ll re-enter the doors and continue my education at some point.”
Humphrey said he has worked hard to get where he is today and encourages students to stay the course.
“I’ve been able to play music and make a living out of it for over 20 years, and I think that comes from hard work and sacrifice,” he said.
“I think you have to do that whether you do what I do or if you’re going to school.
“Anything that’s worth having, it takes a lot of work and sacrifice. Nothing comes easy.”
Pre-K teacher Lisa Todd Lawson is the daughter of the late former OCCC president Robert Todd. She currently teaches at Parmelee Elementary School.
Lawson said because her family has been a part of the college since its beginning, she thinks of OCCC as the fabric of her being.
“Being able to go (to OCCC) concurrently in high school helped mold the decisions I made later in choosing a major,” she said.
Lawson said when college students are struggling, they should keep in mind that college is but a short period in their life and, at a place like OCCC, there’s always someone willing to help.
“With every challenge you have, you have to remember that there will be a reward with it if you see things through,” she said.
Lawson said she is humbled to receive the award and truly has a heart for Oklahoma City.
“It’s pretty humbling,” she said. “I can’t imagine my life without OCCC. My life would have been a lot different, all-around.”
Madison Schultz works as a mechanical engineer at Guernsey Engineering in Oklahoma City. Schultz said OCCC gave her a start in engineering.
“I … entered the engineering industry with just an associate (degree),” she said.
“While I worked, I finished up my bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma. It really got me my start.”
She said, while at OCCC, she was motivated and inspired by Engineering Professor Gregory Holland.
“He always had time for us, to make sure that we understood what we were learning, and made time to help us when we had problems or needed more explanation,” she said. “He was always there for students and he made learning fun.”
Shultz’s advice for college students is to work toward a long-term goal by accomplishing short-term goals. She said creating goals each week and semester makes it easier to achieve those goals.
“You will get there,” she said. “You just have to be strong and stick with it.”
Schultz said she is excited to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“When I saw the list of people who had been inducted in the past, and knew that I was being nominated, I kind of laughed because I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to make it because these people are so cool,’” she said. “I’m very excited and so very honored to be included with the cool kids.”
In addition to the attending inductees, Honorary Inductee Kenneth R. Nance, who died in 2013, also will be an addition to the Hall of Fame.
Nance was an attorney and lobbyist at the Oklahoma State capitol for almost 50 years. He is also known as one of the “founding fathers” of OCCC who helped bring the college into existence during his time in the legislature.
OCCC’s Kenneth R. Nance Memorial Scholarship, in memory of Nance, is designated to help students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math.
Nance’s wife Barbara and son Brian will accept his award.
Anyone can nominate individuals for the hall of fame.
“(Nominations) come from faculty, staff, the community, students, or alumni,” he said. “They can come from anywhere.
“You don’t have to come from OCCC to nominate someone.”
Cassimus said nominee names are sent to a committee to be assessed and chosen.
“The committee is made up of people from the Alumni Association board, people who themselves, have been inducted into the hall of fame, [and] staff. The committee rotates so it’s not the same people every year.”
For more information, contact Cassimus at 405-682-1611, ext. 7478, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.