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greg owens being interviewed by Kayse shrum on camera

Living the code: President Shrum launches new Inside OSU series

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

Cowboys from the Old West are known for their way of life in the saddle and abiding by a set of unwritten principles of honor and loyalty.

In his 2004 book, "Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West," James P. Owen created a list of 10 principles that capture the essence for the Code of the West he felt could still be applied to today.

Inspired by the novel, Oklahoma State University created a Cowboy Code for members of the Cowboy family to live by. The seven principles help people through action.

In 2023, OSU President Kayse Shrum launched a new video series with a mission to highlight unique stories of diverse people who embody the Cowboy Code daily.

“We need positive examples in life to emulate,” Dr. Shrum said. “We think of these as being notable historical figures, but we have remarkable people making a difference in the world right here on campus — people whose hard work, kindness, perseverance and integrity encourage everyone around them. Every day, I’m impressed with the character I see in our students, faculty and staff. I wanted the rest of the Cowboy family to hear their stories and be inspired.”

These stories of OSU students, faculty, staff, alumni and stakeholders can inspire the next generation of leaders and improve society as part of the land-grant mission.

Subverting the Statistics

At 18, Tashia Cheves stepped into the unknown. 

It was 2002 and she was starting college at OSU as a first-generation student with her 3-month-old son at home. Cheves dreamed of being the first person in her family to set an example for her younger siblings and to change her life’s trajectory. However, as things transpired and unplanned events occurred, she stepped away from school two years later to focus on being a mom.

“Statistically, I should have never even made it through the door, just from my family experiences,” Cheves said. “When I came to college, I was a teen mom … as a true freshman. And there were a lot of things that were stacked against me, and that I, in my mind, didn’t belong.”

Determined to finish her degree, she returned in 2013 and earned her undergraduate degree from the College of Education and Human Sciences in 2016.

Following graduation, Cheves continued her journey at OSU by working at the Colvin Recreation Center and then the LASSO Center. Now, the mother of 5 works full time as the assistant director of the Hargis Leadership Institute while simultaneously studying for her master’s degree in educational psychology. 

Cheves knows challenges and circumstances outside of your control bring pain, but you must keep moving forward to the other side.

“While it’s very important to identify pain and to allow yourself to feel your feelings and to work through it, I think that the most important thing is to also remember to not stay there, to not let the pain win,” Cheves said.

No limit on a dream

Carolina Yanez is the daughter of migrant workers and grew up in a region where everyone spoke Spanish.

As a child, she loved to use her creativity by making different toys out of boxes and designing clothes. She could even be found cutting fabric to make existing clothing different.

Her dream to become a designer brought her to OSU.

“I’ve been a designer since I can remember,” Yanez said. “I used to design for myself. I liked to glue things. I didn’t know how to sew. I learned how to sew here in school. My mom didn’t believe the first garments I made. She’s like ‘You did not sew that. That wasn’t you.’ and I said ‘Mom, I promise you, it was me.’”

With two bachelor’s degrees from OSU, Yanez wants to change the world and create a place in her family’s hometown of Tulsa to help people grow.

“My father said ‘Carolina, dream as high as you want. There’s no limit. It’s only you. It’s the limit that you put yourself,’” Yanez said.

Attending college as a firstgeneration student didn’t come without its challenges, but Yanez finished what she started, and it’s been a worthwhile experience.

“I’ve learned so much from my classmates and from my teachers, so it’s been rewarding,” Yanez said. “And I think the challenges that I have faced, as a first-generation student have been really awesome, too, because I’ve learned so much through them. And I laugh about them now.”

Yanez said one thing she has learned in her experience is the value of perseverance.

“I’ve learned that if you really want something, you can get it,” Yanez said. “It might take you a longer to get there. But you can get there.”

Educating generations

For the past 26 years, Greg Owen has used his passion to help children make an impact in their communities as the 4-H educator with Pittsburg County Extension, based in McAlester, Oklahoma.

When Owen enrolled at OSU in 1989, he thought he wanted to be an accountant. With encouragement from his boss, he changed paths and received a master’s through the agricultural economics department.

With limited experience within 4-H, Owen was hired to be the 4-H educator in Pittsburg County to grow the program because of his experience with marketing.

“We had one radio program that our ag agent did and the Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H didn’t. Because I was comfortable on the microphone in front of people, they gave us our own,” Owen said. “So, we started a radio program. I bombarded our newspaper with news articles, they gave me a column that I have to this day and we created a television program ... And that made us more visible. That helped lead us to be the largest 4-H program in the state of Oklahoma around 1999.”

In his role, Owen helps his students become successful adults by developing character and life skills. He also helps his students create programs that benefit the community even after they graduate.

“The No. 1 thing, I ask of you is, be passionate about what you choose to do, because if you do that, you’ll be better at it, and you’ll care about it more,” Owen said.

Giving it everything

In Shattuck, Oklahoma, Raedyn Magness grew up wearing her blue corduroy FFA jacket with the dream of one day trading it in for a white doctor’s coat.

Through FFA and OSU Center for Health Sciences, Magness received a Blue Coats to White Coats scholarship to attend OSU where she majors in biochemistry and molecular biology.

She was provisionally accepted to OSU-CHS through the 3+1 Program, where she will join the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“I want to go back home, or an area like home, rural Oklahoma and practice family medicine,” Magness said. “... You don’t have a lot of physicians that want to come back and practice. So, I think I want to go back and get the hospital and, in turn, the town up and coming again.”

Although she is looking forward to a future of giving back to her community, Magness isn’t waiting to make her impact as she is the current vice president of giving campaigns at the OSU Student Foundation.

Through the foundation, she quickly organized the Walk the Block event in three weeks to educate students about the mental health resources available on campus. The walk was part of a five-day campaign that raised almost $200,000 for Cowboys United for Mental Health.

“We think if we can start with the students or start inspiring philanthropy, early in the student’s life, then when they graduate, they will be quick to give back and in turn, thank the donors who got them through college,” Magness said.

Touching lives

Betty Bowman attended Oklahoma A&M College in the mid-1950s, became engaged with campus through a variety of organizations and always finished what she started.

Bowman was a member of Kappa Delta sorority, serving as rush chair, vice president, treasurer and president. She was also a member of Panhellenic Council, where she was elected to the Student Senate and eventually, president.

Bowman later became the first female president of the Student Association at Oklahoma State University.

Bowman’s involvement with students didn’t stop after graduation. She became a teacher in Tulsa at Central High School where she met Cowboy basketball legend Eddie Sutton and wife Patsy, OSU wrestling star Ned Blass and former OU football star Chuck Bowman, her eventual husband. She even helped launch the Tulsa Coaches’ Wives Association.

In 1973, Chuck was hired as the first state director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes where she would serve as the office manager. Under the Bowmans’ leadership, Oklahoma FCA reached 90% of the high schools in Oklahoma.

The Bowmans mentored many OSU athletes including current Baylor University President Linda Livingstone, the Rev. Calvin Miller, NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders and Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Self

Bowman is proud of the work they did at FCA and the lives they touched. 

“I certainly didn’t feel myself as one that would get so involved in everything. And here just recently, I’ve been thinking what happened. And I think people just got me involved. And I just took it from there,” Bowman said.

Photos by: Phil Shockley

Story by: Sydney Trainor | STATE Magazine

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