Academics, faith and making a difference

Steve, Nancy, Lacey and KC Thomas
Steve, Nancy, Lacey and KC Thomas

“If you are looking to change the world, OC is a great place to start.”

You might expect to get such a statement in a cool magazine like Parent View. After all, it is designed by Oklahoma Christian in hopes of encouraging parents to send their kids to the university we love.

But when you hear that from a student … and he says it almost as an understatement … you know it was a genuine assessment that came from the heart.

That’s marketing you really can’t buy.

KC Thomas said it. KC, the son of Steve and Nancy Thomas, just earned his degree in electrical engineering from OC. Nancy, by the way, is an RN who works in OC’s health center and takes care of students when they’re ill.

KC concluded that OC is a great, world-changing launching pad after seeing how the students themselves will organize projects – like Wishing Well (a project to raise money to provide fresh water wells in Africa) – and participate in prayer sessions, accountability groups and late-night devotionals.

“The university is progressive to let us look for ways to grow and change and find our own faith,” KC said.

His mom agrees. In fact, she says that is one of the reasons she and her husband planned for their son and daughter, Lacey, a nursing major, to attend OC.

“Academics and education for our children have always been priorities for Steve and me. We always prayed that our children would come into their own faith and be independent,” Nancy said. “OC gives them that platform so they can ask questions and be taught and mentored by faculty who show their faith in everything that they do.”

Steve and Nancy believe their plan is working. They’ve seen their family conversations become deeper and flavored with more spiritual maturity. Nancy said her kids have even taught her new things that they have learned in their Bible classes.

She also says she has heard a few “horror stories” from friends whose kids are at other schools where partying (and more partying) is emphasized.

Lacey, who was selected as a Spring Sing hostess as an OC freshman, agrees. She couldn’t possibly be more enthusiastic about OC.

She didn’t even mind freshman curfew! That’s because it was when she and her friends from the dorm knew they would get together to talk about the day. They studied together, prayed together ... and of course, just had fun.

“I know these girls will be my friends for the rest of my life,” Lacey said.

The opportunities at OC have not come without planning and sacrifice. The kids grew up eating off-brand cereal, wearing clearance-rack clothes and riding around in older cars (giving kids at school many ribbing opportunities).

It was a strategy to be good stewards of their money and to keep materialism at bay. It was also what we parents like to call “characterbuilding” exercises.

“They may not see the value yet, but I see the people they are becoming,” Nancy said.

Both KC and Lacey have been on mission trips to Honduras and Mexico. Lacey spent a month in the African country of Ghana in 2008.

KC participated in a summer Vienna Studies program.

“He came home with so much more confidence and a greater appreciation for his values and beliefs,” Steve said.

Having an OC education is part of Steve and Nancy’s long-term vision for their family. A vision that could change the world.

By Dawn Shelton