Panter family values OC scholarships, community

Andrew, Caleb, Gwen, Tommy and Luke Panter
Andrew, Caleb, Gwen, Tommy and Luke Panter

The Panter family is a house divided. 

With both Texas and Texas A&M fans in the home, the passions and tensions can run deep when the Longhorns and Aggies clash.

Of course, there’s also a lot they agree on. 

And from parents Tommy and Gwen down to the last of their four sons, they share a strong consensus on the need for a strong, Christian collegiate experience.

That consensus led three of the four Panter sons to Oklahoma Christian University. Caleb and Luke are recent graduates and Andrew is a sophomore at OC.

When you ask Tommy and Gwen if they went to a Christian university, they respond, “Unfortunately not.” Their college experience, they say, is one reason they’re so gung ho about Oklahoma Christian.

“Our main priority as our kids came up was protecting them and supporting them in Christian ways,” Tommy said. “Young adulthood is critical in the development of character – more of them pull away from Christ at that age. We wanted our kids to be in a place with strong academic credentials where they could be around good people and stay on the right path.”

The academic focus is strong in the Panter home. Tommy, who got his master’s in biblical studies at Abilene Christian University, is the assistant principal and attendance administrator at the high school in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Gwen teaches fifth-grade science and social studies in one of the local elementary schools. 

Their work in education means they didn’t have a big nest egg to draw from when their kids went to college. But OC’s academic scholarships, which reward good scores on the SAT or ACT, and other financial opportunities are a big help to families who want to invest in a Christian atmosphere for their children.

“With the help they can get initially, it sort of evens out between OC and the major state universities here in Texas. After that, we’ve paid some and our kids have worked – we haven’t had to go into terrible debt,” Tommy said.

As Caleb and Luke got involved on campus, it paid off big time … not just in taking care of tuition, but in the experiences they’ve had. Both of them were officers with OC’s student government association and helped lead Earn Your Wings, OC’s big event for incoming students. Luke worked as a residence assistant and in a variety of offices around campus. 

Caleb, who earned a scholarship to play varsity basketball at Oklahoma Christian, is still plugged in as an assistant coach while he pursues his graduate law degree at a nearby school.

“OC has made it a real experience for them, and that’s helped pay for their schooling. They had to figure out ways to enjoy all of it and figure out ways to pay for it,” Gwen said.

“It’s been a sacrifice, but God has taken care of us and we totally give Him the glory. It’s like the feeding of the 5,000 – we don’t know how it happened, but it happened.”

By Wes McKinzie