Chapter involvement give alumni opportunity to find new passions at OSU
By Will Carr
Giving back to Oklahoma State can be as easy as joining a local chapter of the OSU Alumni Association. And as some of our local chapter leaders have found out, doing so can open the door to many other ways to support OSU. Ken Kinzer graduated from OSU in 1971. Upon graduating, he moved back to New York and ultimately lost touch with the university. It took nearly 15 years before he returned to Stillwater to show his family around his alma mater. He was then contacted by a fellow Cowboy to help start the New York City OSU Alumni Chapter.
“I decided I really should connect with my school,” Kinzer said. “My wife and I met Dean Stephan Wilson in the College of Human Sciences, and we were just enthralled.”
This connection created by his chapter involvement has led Kinzer and his wife to further support the College of Human Sciences, including serving on the partners board and donating to the recently opened new wing.
In addition to supporting education, many chapter leaders go on to support other areas at OSU. Homecoming is an OSU tradition beloved by many including JJ Stevak, a member of the Houston OSU Alumni Chapter. Stevak graduated from OSU in 1983, but her heart never left Stillwater. Once she began getting involved in Houston, that led her to support Homecoming, the Spears School of Business, OSU Athletics and other scholarships including one named after her father.
“As a chapter volunteer, you really find out some of the interior workings. At some other places that might make you inclined to not want to donate, but at OSU it motivates you to contribute,” Stevak said. “Once you see where OSU is heading, that makes you want to get involved and give back.”
Not all involvement has to be via monetary donations; it can also include giving time to help improve the future of the university. Lynne McElroy, president of the Cleveland/ McClain Counties OSU Alumni Chapter, volunteers at Grandparent University. McElroy earned OSU degrees in 1971 and 1982 and has served as a volunteer at GPU multiple times over the years. Now, she attends the program with her grandchildren.
“I feel like GPU is one of the best ways to recruit for the university,” McElroy said. “Plus, for the older people, it is a great way to learn about stuff you didn’t have time to learn about in college.”
Janai Miller, president of the Pittsburg County OSU Alumni Chapter, donates to many different programs including Pete’s Pet Posse, Coaches vs. Cancer and the OSU POSSE. Miller graduated from OSU in 1984 and wanted to begin giving back once she got involved in the chapter based in McAlester, Oklahoma.
"I just feel like I belong to the university, and the chapter supports that connection. I feel like OSU has given me so much that I feel like I need to give back."
Joining a local chapter of the Alumni Association is a great first step toward giving back to OSU and staying connected with fellow Cowboys. McElroy said her fellow chapter members enjoy learning about what is happening in Stillwater, which leads to them wanting to be more involved in its future.
“It’s really nice for people to meet and connect with local Cowboys,” McElroy said. “The more they know about what is going on at the university, the happier they are to do things.”