Cowboys always come together to support each other in times of need. As the novel coronavirus pandemic began to affect the OSU community, the Cowboy family stepped up once again.
The OSU Alumni Association and the OSU Foundation joined forces to create a resource website for those in need and those who wanted to support fellow Cowboys. The website included news updates from OSU leadership; resources for parents, teachers and incoming freshmen; COVID19 related announcements and OSU-focused podcasts and videos.
The 20 for ’20 initiative encouraged alumni and friends to submit 20 words of encouragement and congratulations for the Class of 2020 to help celebrate once commencement ceremonies were postponed. Alumni could also contribute $20 to the campaign to provide complimentary one-year memberships to the Alumni Association for the Class of 2020.
“I am very thankful that I have the opportunity to go to a university with the spirit of comradery that shines bright orange during these difficult times,” said Reed Aldridge, who completed his junior year studying finance from his home in Perkins, Oklahoma. “The Cowboy spirit is still very much alive and well, and it is very evident that we can absolutely make it through these times together. I am excited and very ready to return back to campus, but until then, I know I am supported by my fellow Cowboys.”
Several virtual event programs helped connect, inform and entertain Cowboys everywhere. The Alumni Association hosted Fridays with the Family livestreams on social media, which featured informal interviews with OSU representatives on COVID-19, OSU topics and their personal experiences.
“It’s good to check in on each other, and Fridays with the Family allowed alumni to stay connected during this unprecedented time,” said Julia Benbrook, OStateTV reporter and host of Fridays with the Family. “We got updates on athletics from OSU athletic director, Mike Holder; discussed how OSU is embracing diversity and inclusion with Dr. Jason Kirksey; and checked in with President Hargis, Ann and Scruff to talk about the quiet campus. Each interview gave us a unique look at what members of the Cowboy family were doing.”
Social media was used to virtually bring everyone to favorite campus spots, like Old Central and Theta Pond, through Campus Spotlight. The Alumni Association’s Student Network also hosted weekly webinars for incoming freshmen to introduce them to the Alumni Association’s student programs.
Global Day of Giving
As COVID-19 continued to take hold of the country in the spring, it became apparent students would need additional emergency assistance to help with groceries, rent, utilities and other basic necessities.
A demand for coronavirus testing across the state developed, and OSU stepped up in several ways. OSU’s Center for Health Sciences and several front-line health care workers provided emergency medical support through testing, technology and information sharing with rural physicians and providers.
Giving Tuesday Now, a global day of giving and unity in response to the emergency needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, was organized for May 5. While Giving Tuesday usually takes place in December, this day of philanthropy was held in addition to the annually scheduled event.
“We are all a part of this national crisis and many of our students are faced with some of the hardest decisions they are ever going to have to make on whether they can continue school and or meet the financial needs that they have,” said Dr. Doug Hallenbeck, vice president of student affairs.
During Giving Tuesday Now, the Cowboy family came together from 24 states to raise more than $33,000 in just 24 hours. Over $93,000 has since been donated to help Cowboys in need.
“The care for one another makes me incredibly proud to be a student who walks this campus and to call myself a Cowboy for life,” said Clarissa Ratzlaff, agribusiness junior. “Thank you so much for your generosity toward Oklahoma State, as it helps students like myself with scholarships and emergency support.”