Orange Pride: Kathy Williams
As a high-school dropout who started college at age 30 and now has bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Kathy Williams has an edge when it comes to recruiting students to OSU-Tulsa.
“I can relate to nontraditional students because I was one,” she said. “I know how important education is. It’s something nobody can ever take from you.”
Williams is the latest recipient of the Orange Pride Award for Employee Excellence, which recognizes OSU-Tulsa employees who go above and beyond their normal job duties and embody the Cowboy spirit.
“This award is not about me. This award is about this team that I work with,” she said. “It’s very humbling.”
From participating in Pete’s Pet Posse Tulsa with her therapy dog Sunny or increasing enrollment by working side-by-side with faculty to recruit new students, Williams is a whirling dervish of energy with a big welcoming smile.
And Sunny, her golden retriever P3T therapy dog, is nearly always by her side.
During her senior year at Oklahoma City’s Putnam City High School, Williams said she didn’t understand the need for education. So she dropped out and took a job in sales in the fitness industry.
Years later, she completed her GED and entered college, starting a lifetime of learning.
She has earned associate’s degrees in exotic animal training and management and substance abuse counseling, a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology and Native American studies and a master’s degree in criminal justice.
She also sat for the LSAT law school exam but recognized it just wasn’t affordable for her.
“I just got going and I didn’t quit,” Williams said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up.”
She worked in the drug courts for many years but decided she needed a change.
Williams found that in higher education. She was a recruiter for two other colleges in the area but always had her eye on OSU-Tulsa.
“I bleed orange and I wanted to recruit for OSU,” she said. “OSU is a family. Loyal and true is just the beginning.”
She and her husband met years ago at Lake Keystone. Both are “lake rats” and spend as much time there as possible with Sunny. She even had a side business at the lake for a couple of years cleaning yachts.
But nothing beats talking to students about their future plans and showing them that college is accessible, that they can reach their dreams.
“When I see in their eyes that they are getting excited about the future, I know exactly what they are feeling,” Williams said. “If I can help somebody else find their path like I found mine, that’s what makes me happy.”
To recommend an OSU-Tulsa staff member for the Orange Pride award, complete a nomination form. Orange Pride recipients are selected quarterly and receive a framed certificate and $100.
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