Theology first Recent graduate makes history

Lois Lockhart will tell you she is "not the best at anything." Yet, look at her track record and you will see she has the market cornered in one area, forging new paths for female students in Christian higher education.

When Lois walked across the stage at OC's August commencement ceremony, she had learned just hours before that she was the first woman in the school's history to complete the Master of Divinity program. 

There was no extra pomp and circumstance during the ceremony to celebrate the occasion. Her fellow graduates had applauded her during commencement practice earlier in the day, but most of the audience would never know what a milestone it was for the program or for Lois.

This is not the first time Lois has been "the first" at something. She was the first woman at Oklahoma Baptist University to receive a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry, a program she was instrumental in getting off the ground.

"God gives me these little firsts just for me," she said.

Lois was drawn to OC's M.Div. program because it allowed her to be close to family and live on campus. What she found when she arrived was a supportive environment where she could ask questions and grow her knowledge.

"The graduate program was neutral; a wonderful reasoning environment," she said. "You are able to hear other people's understandings, ideologies and theologies."

She calls Dr. John Harrison (the program's chair) her mentor, but says that every member of the faculty took the time to sit and talk and also challenge her along the journey. 

Even when Lois decided to leave school for two semesters, she felt supported by the faculty.

"They kept in touch and supported me. They knew I wasn't finished," Lois said. "They prayed for me and my family."

Her work as a hospice chaplain is where Lois feels God has gifted her the most. She feels gifted to help people deal with their grief and the process of dying. She currently works with the homeless in the Tulsa area, but if God opens a door back into hospice work, she is ready to take it on.

Lois is already looking for her next opportunity to learn. Chances are, she'll have another "first" wherever she goes.

By Allison Shumate (05)