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

Shrum, Hoyt and Mendez kick off 2022-2023 school year with freshman convocation

Monday, August 22, 2022

Media Contact: Sydney Trainor | Communications Specialist | 405-744-9782 |

The class of 2026 gathered as Dr. Shrum shared how she can relate to students unsure where their road in life is going to lead them. 

“As a young girl in Coweta, never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought I would be standing here in front of you today as the first female to serve as a president of a comprehensive research university in the state of Oklahoma and as the 19th president of Oklahoma State University,” Shrum said. 

She  encouraged students to embrace their journey at OSU and seek mentorship to gain direction on their path. She also shared advice that her parents once shared with her. 

“You can become anything in this life, as long as you're willing to work hard,” Shrum said. “So, I want you to dream big. Don't let your future be limited by your dreams: dream big, set goals and work hard to achieve them, because if your dreams don't scare you a little, then I'm going to tell you you're not dreaming big enough. 

“Success isn't a destination. Success is getting up every day, and making progress towards a meaningful goal. So get up every day with a sense of purpose.”

Provost Jeanette Mendez, student body president Riley Pritzlaff, OSU hype man Les Thomas and women’s basketball coach Jacie Hoyt joined Shrum in welcoming the record-setting freshman class. 

Pritzlaff shared advice from a student’s perspective. He encouraged students to keep an open mind, take the class they find interesting just for fun and join clubs to meet their best friends. 

“While you may not realize it now, these people and these experiences, they will shape you as a person and as a student, as a partner and as a professional,” Pritzlaff said. “… Take your time and enjoy the journey.”

Dr. Mendez was raised by a single mother in California and became a first-generation college student. She shared with students how she felt overwhelmed as she began her college experience. 

As a freshman, everyone around Mendez seemed to know exactly what major to choose and what clubs to join. Her mother encouraged her to ask for help and get involved on campus. 

Mendez assured students that OSU faculty are committed to student success as she left students with a challenge and tips to be successful at OSU. 

“I challenge you to find one organization to join and attend a meeting this first month, and I promise you won't be disappointed,” Mendez said.

“Overall, I want each of you to know that we deeply care about all of you. We want you to succeed. Get involved, ask for help, use your resources and stay on top of your coursework and you're gonna succeed.”

Hoyt shared how she can relate to students who are new to OSU. This will be her first season as the coach of the Cowgirls after spending the last few years at Kansas City. 

“I totally know how we all feel being new,” Hoyt said. “I just moved here with my husband about five months ago. And it can be scary. I went through change and leaving our families and just having a start totally over not knowing anyone.”

As the Stillwater community has embraced her over the last few months, Hoyt encouraged students to come together. 

“There's a whole room full of people who were all — trust me — feeling the same way that you're feeling, you know, a little scared, a little nervous,” Hoyt said. “Don't feel like you have to go through it alone, lean on each other. The Cowboy family, the Cowgirl family, is unmatched so lean on each other.”

A principle Hoyt lives by is to figure out how you can leave every space that you enter better than you found it, no matter the setting. 

For Hoyt, that means bringing the hype. Players on Hoyt’s team get hype points for high-fives, fist bumps and chest bumps to increase the positive atmosphere. 

She encouraged students to do the same and increase their energy across campus at all times.

“At Oklahoma State, we dream as big as the sky. That's my favorite thing. And I've got that written on my heart,” Hoyt said.

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