NORMAN — University of Oklahoma graduates who were National Merit scholars have launched their own drive to help current and future OU students meet their financial needs.
Craig Hayes, past director of the National Scholars Program, will provide staff leadership for the new fund drive.
Hayes said he had been approached by a group of National Scholars alumni to help provide support to the group.
More than 2,100 OU alumni have received scholarships as National Merit, National Achievement and National Hispanic awardees.
“While this is a group of young alumni who are not yet at the stages of their careers to give large gifts, it is heartwarming to see them launch an effort to give back to the University,” OU President David Boren said. “They have the potential to provide even more financial support with each passing year.”
Their efforts will be part of OU’s overall scholarship campaign which, since its launch in 2005, has raised $182 million and broadened its targets to include middle-income students.
Steering committee members for the National Merit Scholars group include Megan Schaunaman of Tulsa, who teaches math at Bishop Kelley High School; former OU student body president David Kendrick of Duncan, CEO of MyHealth Access Network of Tulsa; Kendra Cotton of Arkansas, project director with the Community-Campus Partnership at the University of North Carolina; Karl Blanke of Los Angeles, an attorney based in Washington, D.C.; Oklahoma City attorney Lauren Barghols Hanna, and others.
“As word spread about OU’s top ranking among public universities in National Merit scholars, it reminded many of us of the pride we have in OU and of how special this program was to us during our years at the university,” Kendrick said.
“During our visits with one another, we decided to launch this fundraising effort. While we want to be a part of the total scholarships drive for the entire university, we want to especially reach out to our fellow National scholars as a group,” he said.
“OU helped me as a student,” Schaunaman said, “and I want to carry on that tradition and help future students.”