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Tulsa author and activist Ann Patton graduates from college - weeks shy of 80th birthday

Published: Wednesday, May 10, 2017

When Tulsa author Ann Patton graduated from high school in 1955, college was not an option for poor kids like her.

“The University of Tulsa was the only option for students who could not leave Tulsa, and it might as well have been the moon,” she said.

By age 22, Patton was married with four kids. Growing up in west Tulsa, Patton was taught that education is the preparation for complete living. So she never gave up on her dream of earning a college degree.

On May 15, Patton will participate in the OSU-Tulsa’s graduation ceremony after four decades of earning “a crazy-quilt collection of college hours from several schools that I always dreamed might add up to a degree.”

She will receive her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. The ceremony is just weeks before her 80th birthday in July.

“It was OSU-Tulsa that brought it all together,” Patton said. “Academic advisers helped me fill the holes in my courses. When we moved to Orlando for health reasons in 2015, OSU-Tulsa’s advisers helped me find the online course that completed the circle. A miracle!”

On her way to earning her degree, Patton, by all accounts, is considered a success.

A former journalist with the Tulsa World, Patton is a book author, consultant and a member of the team that developed Tulsa’s award-winning flood management system. She also is known nationally for her expertise in disaster mitigation and water management.

Patton is author of Unmasked: The Rise and Fall of the 1920s Ku Klux Klan, The Tulsa River, Dan’s War on Poverty and Fifty Years Remembered: The First 50 Years of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Why? Why would I care so passionately about graduating just before my 80th birthday?” she said. “Mostly, it is just for me. But also I want my grandchildren to know not to give up on their dreams. More importantly, I want them to know that education has inherent value.”

As a journalist, she once interviewed a young man who escaped communism by swimming through shark-infested waters. Patton said she will never forget something the man said – ‘My teacher is my life.’

“People today argue that education has to translate directly to making money,” she said. “But the higher goal is to help us live a full life.”

For Patton, education has been a lifetime pursuit.

“I really mean this, God bless OSU-Tulsa,” she said. “I am grateful.”

To learn more about her work, visit the Ann Patton website.

Watch Now

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum speaks at OSU-Tulsa's Graduation Ceremony on Monday, May 15, 2017. Bynum honored graduate Ann Patton in his remarks.



Media Contact: Aaron Campbell | 918-594-8046 |