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Kayse Shrum at freshman convocation.
Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum speaks to freshmen at their convocation on Friday in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Shrum, Boynton kick off 2021-22 school year with freshman convocation

Friday, August 13, 2021

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Editorial Coordinator | 405-744-5540 |

Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum presided over her first Cowboy Kickoff Friday afternoon at Gallagher-Iba Arena, welcoming the class of 2025. 

More than 2,000 students, faculty and staff gathered on Eddie Sutton Court and into the lower deck as Shrum shared her story and how she can relate to students who might feel they don’t know which direction to go.

“I just started this job July 1, so you could say this is my freshman year, too,” Shrum said. “Let me assure you that you made the right decision to be a part of the Cowboy family. It will change your life, because it certainly changed mine.

“You just never know where the road of life is going to take you. As a young girl in Coweta, I would have never imagined that I would be standing here today before you all, starting my first year along with each of you. The moral of my story is that you don’t have to know all of the answers. Some of you sitting here know exactly where you are going. You already have a goal, and some of you are like [I was] and don’t know yet. And that's OK because we are here to help you.”

Shrum, who had two of her children graduate from OSU in the spring and has three more in Stillwater this fall, said transitioning to college might be challenging for some, but she reminded students to focus on themselves. 

“I want you to get up every day with a sense of purpose and a determination to make a difference in the world around you and the people that surround you,” Shrum said. “My advice to you is to not listen to the naysayers or the haters. Believe in yourself because I promise that positive thoughts and positive attitudes and perseverance win every single time.”

Joining Shrum on stage were OSU hype man Les Thomas, Faculty Council Chair Gina Peek, student body President Jack Edwards and men’s basketball coach Mike Boynton.

Peek and Edwards gave advice to the freshmen from both the faculty side and the student side.

Peek, the interim associate dean at the College of Education and Human Sciences, said faculty were there to always help students.

Edwards, a Dallas native, said for students to be proud of themselves just for getting to this point, embarking on their first year of college.

“It really is an honor to be sitting in the seats that you are sitting in,” Edwards said. “ … A lot of us really forget to sit down and think about how much of a big deal it is that we are here in college right now. You earned the ability to sit in that seat. It was not handed to you. Welcome to OSU and congratulations on making it here.”

Oklahoma State men’s basketball coach Mike Boynton speaks to freshmen at Cowboy Kickoff Friday in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Boynton, a fan favorite, stood near his typical courtside spot at basketball games. He joked with students that they were about to start a journey that would last possibly more than four years because of what OSU means to him and how he said it embraced him five years ago.

“This is truly a place where you can find people from every part of the globe,”  he said. “Where you will be welcomed like you have been here all of your life.”

He said it can be awkward being a freshman, but he encouraged students to engage.

“Get to know your roommates, you could be rooming with the next CEO of a major corporation,” Boynton said. “You could be rooming with a groundbreaking doctor. You could be living next door to the president of a bank. You could be sharing a hallway with the next president of Oklahoma State University, as somebody once did. Or the president of the United States. And more importantly, you could be any one of those things.

“I can say without a doubt that you are right now at the perfect place, at the perfect time, with the right people.”

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