Skip Navigation
Oklahoma State University

Bride Gives Up Wedding Gifts to Increase Scholarship Endowment

Tue, November 15, 2005

STILLWATER, OKLA. – Cara Cowan is not your average bride.  Though seemingly level-headed, some of her fellow soon-me-missus’ may argue she’s more crazy.  Cara agreed to forego gravy boats, coffeemakers and other highly demanded wedding gifts in lieu of increasing her family’s endowed scholarship for Native American students at Oklahoma State University [OSU].“Rather than registering for stuff I won’t use or don’t need, [fiancé] Doug and I are designating non-profits for folks to donate to in honor of our marriage,” said Cowan.Honoring their parents’ commitment to education and challenging fellow tribe members to attain an excellent education, young alumni and siblings Brett and Cara Cowan established the Beverly and Clarence “Curly” Cowan Endowed Scholarship Fund for Native American engineering students at OSU in Sept 2001 at the tender ages of 26 and 28, respectively.  “Almost everything in our lives centered around education, and Cara and I knew the best way to honor our parents’ retirement would be to help other Native American students obtain their degree,” said Brett. Education has always been a central part of the Cowan family - even during mealtimes.  “I remember instances where we would do math word problems on napkins as our family was eating dinner at Mazzio’s,” said daughter Cara.That commitment to education, resonated with Cara and Brett over the years.  Among them, the Cowans hold 10 degrees from OSU.  Cara earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1997 and a master’s degree in telecommunications management in 2002.  Brett holds bachelor’s (1999) and master’s (2000) degrees in civil engineering.  Beve and Curly achieved both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and share a combined 70 years of teaching experience.  All are active participants in the Cherokee Nation where Cara serves as an elected Tribal Council Representative for Rogers County.  A recent report issued by Black Issues in Higher Education ranked OSU as the No. 2 producer for all American Indian bachelor degrees combined in the nation with 1,662 American Indian students enrolled at OSU in 2005.  The Cowans hope that their gift will continue to give hope to and inspire future Native America students.  While these numbers illustrate an obvious need to further educate Oklahoma’s minorities, the efforts of the Cowan children continue to give hope to future Native American students.“When great leaders come along, you try to do everything you can to support them,” said Jovette Dew, Multicultural Engineering Coordinator. “It’s leaders like Brett & Cara who see an unmet need and find a way to leave a dramatic imprint on future minority students.” While few recent graduates endow scholarships at such a young age, even rarer is the Cowans’ dedication to their gift.  “My experiences at OSU helped me realize how much I enjoy the small-town environment, and solidified my desire to stay in state and make a better life for others,” remarked Cara.The Cowan scholarship is available to any student from Seminole High School, Rogers County or Sequoyah County who is Native American and majors in Engineering at OSU.   Cara Cowan and Doug Watts will exchange vows Nov. 19 in Claremore.  Other charities benefiting from their generosity include: the American Diabetes Association, the American Indian Science & Engineering Society, the Cherokee Heritage Center, the Cherokee Nation Education Corp. and the Rogers Cherokee Association. For more information on the OSU Foundation, log on to our Web site at www.osuf.org or call 405.385.5100.