Avid reader writing his own success story

By Katherine Vasper

Oklahoma Christian University’s Department of Language and Literature prides itself on producing students who can apply analytical, well-written responses to any situation and use their knowledge of all forms of literature to become a well-rounded person.

Dr. Travis Montgomery was one of the department’s most recognized students, winning its Outstanding Graduate Award in 2002. He completed his graduate work at the University of Mississippi, earning an M.A. and a Ph.D. with a dissertation that explored the essays and criticism of Edgar Allan Poe.

“Make the most of your college years. Try new things. Read. Go to lectures and concerts. Go out with your friends. Squeeze all the juice out of every minute.” Dr. Travis Montgomery

After earning the Lawrence “Shaky” Yates Award for Teaching Freshman Composition at Ole Miss, Travis went on to become a professor of literature at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.

“At OC, I learned how to be an independent thinker. I loved reading, but I didn’t think I could get paid to do it,” he said. “Teaching literature and writing offered opportunities to indulge my passion while helping others.”

Dr. Cami Agan, chair of OC’s Department of Language and Literature, has high praise for her former student, who served as president of the Sigma Tau Delta honor society for two years.

“Travis was one of the finest students ever to graduate from this department,” she said. “He came to the department with almost complete reading knowledge of the literary canon, and yet he was eager and engaged in the ideas, texts, and discussions we so value.”

English professor Dr. Gail Nash said she has enjoyed many years of having Travis as a friend and praised his involvement as a student.

“He was impressive and well respected as an undergraduate,” Nash said. “He won first in the student colloquium. He’s a talented singer and sang with the Chorale. He traveled to Germany with a campaign group. I believe it was important to him to express his faith.”

Travis said he values the OC professors’ goal to build connections with their students, both on a scholarly and spiritual level.

“I couldn’t list all the people to whom I’m indebted for the knowledge and the wisdom they shared with me. A short list would include Dr. Ken Adams, Dr. Bailey McBride, Dr. John Maple, Dr. Peggy Gipson, and Dr. Jim Baird,” he said. “The mentor who had the biggest influence on my growth as an educator was Dr. Cami Agan, who modeled the rigorous, engaged teaching that I’ve spent ten years trying to do in my classes. She represents everything I consider excellent in academic life.”

Travis can’t single out a favorite OC memory, though he looks back with fondness on Chorale tours, thought-provoking class meetings, musical performances, and mission campaigns. A successful college student takes advantage of all the college experiences, he said.

“I met my wife at OC, and I remember fondly our days in the poorhouse. Lots of red beans and rice. We’re still married,” he said. “Make the most of your college years. Try new things. Read. Go to lectures and concerts. Go out with your friends. Squeeze all the juice out of every minute. The present time is a gift that I’m still learning to appreciate.”