Skip to main content

News and Media

Open Main MenuClose Main Menu

Bride gives up wedding gifts to increase scholarship endowment

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Cara Cowan is not your average bride.

Although seemingly level-headed, some of her fellow soon-to-be-brides may argue she’s more crazy. 

Cowan 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.

“Rather than registering for stuff I won’t use or don’t need, [fiancé] Doug and I are designating nonprofits for folks to donate to in honor of our marriage,” Cowan said.

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 September 2001 at the the ages of 26 and 28, respectively. 

“Almost everything in our lives centered on 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,” Brett said.

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,” Cara said.

That commitment to education resonated with Cara and Brett over the years. Among them, the Cowans hold 10 OSU degrees. 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 Dr. Jovette Dew, multicultural engineering coordinator. “It’s leaders like Brett and 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,” Cara said.

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, Oklahoma. 

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 Corporation and the Rogers Cherokee Association. For more information on the OSU Foundation, log on to its website or call 405-385-5100.

Back To Top
SVG directory not found.