Steven Vekony, a second-semester MBA student, walks into his Business Finance class on a normal Thursday morning dressed in a white, starched button-up shirt, a noticeably flashy belt buckle and orange and black cowboy boots. He is toting with him a bag large enough to carry a body, a large dog or perhaps the head of Pistol Pete.
No one in the room gives him a second look. Rather, he’s greeted by his classmates with comments about the upcoming finance quiz or the Oklahoma City Thunder. This is just another day in the life of Pistol Pete, who also happens to be one of the Watson Graduate School of Management’s MBA students.
“There’s a lot of times where I have to wear the Pete stuff to class,” Vekony said. “Basically, I get up, go to class and wear the jeans and boots. There’s been several times where I have to change in the CAGLE lounge (inside the new Business Building) for an event on the South Engineering lawn right across the street.”
Vekony’s role as Pete may have played a part in his decision to pursue an MBA at Oklahoma State University. Coming from an agricultural background, it wasn’t until he started making appearances as Pete that he began networking with people in various business fields, and he began to see an MBA as the next step in his career path.
“I had never really had any connections outside of agriculture because all my connections were through FFA, but once I started meeting people and doing appearances as Pete, that shifted, and I was interested in business a lot more than I had been,” he said. “The Spears School of Business has a very good reputation in having a good MBA program, so I knew this would be a good place for me.”
As an MBA student and Pistol Pete, Vekony’s schedule stays extremely busy throughout the year. He and his co-Pete Kevin Osborn make around 700 appearances per year. These appearances include events like weddings, birthday parties and hospital visits.
“There might be a week where I have five appearances throughout the week here on campus,” Vekony said. “And a lot of my time on the weekends is spent doing appearances, whether it’s a birthday party for a little kid that’s an OSU fan or it’s two people getting married that went to OSU and want Pete at their wedding.”
Vekony says that while the excitement of being on the field for a football game is an incredible part of his job, the best moments are those shared with individuals in important or special moments of their lives.
“I think for me, the thing that’s so special about Pete is that I’m never going to remember the score of the football games,” he said. “You know, rushing the field when we beat Texas, that’s really cool. But for me, it’s the one-on-one experience with fans and people. My first Pete experience outside of athletics was a visit to the children’s hospital. We do a lot of sad appearances, but it’s really cool because regardless of whatever a person is going through, Pete can bring a smile to his or her face.”
He also mentions the pride that both the role of Pistol Pete and the role of an MBA student bring him. He says the cowboy culture definitely translates from the university as a whole to the MBA program.
“I think it’s really cool because anyone who goes to OSU has a lot of pride in their school, and I think that’s something the MBA program shares a lot, too,” he said. “Whenever I talk about some of my accomplishments, being able to serve as Pete is honestly the biggest accomplishment I have. It’s something where I know how blessed I am to be able to serve this university, but right up there with Pete is being able to say I will graduate with an MBA from the Watson Graduate School of Management.”
In his short time as Pistol Pete and a student in the MBA program at OSU, Vekony has already made a positive impact on the university and those around him and will continue to make positive impacts long after he graduates and hangs up his spurs.
(By Kinsey Clemmer)