Today is Founder’s Day for Ouachita Baptist University, and we were asked to blog about something related to our OBU story. Everyone who attended OBU has a story, probably several, because Ouachita is just that kind of place. There are several stories I could share, but I have chosen to write about how I ended up at OBU, and what impacted me most (outside of finding my mate!) from my time there.
In 1980, my family had recently moved back to Arkansas from Savannah, Georgia. It was my senior year, and with the move, my college options had changed. As a classically trained pianist, and vocalist, I hoped to pursue music as a major, so I began the college search, which included Ouachita and other area colleges in Arkansas and Oklahoma. I had fond memories of attending Music Camp as a child every summer on the campus of OBU, and was vaguely familiar with the campus. In the spring of 1981, I trained for scholarship auditions and soon began the audition process. Along with the wonderful music staff of OBU, my scholarship offerings played a huge role in my decision to attend Ouachita, as I received an academic, as well as substantial vocal and piano offers, which helped considerably with my expenses. I remain grateful for the individuals who made these scholarships possible.
Within just a few short days of my arrival at OBU, I was caught up in the frenzy of freshmen orientation, meeting new friends, learning my way around campus, and the all-important auditions for certain musical groups, with which I was not familiar. I discovered there was an all-female audition group that several new freshmen were trying out for, and a couple of my new friends needed an accompanist, so I agreed. So on audition day, I show up to play in a pair of blue gym shorts, and some random white shirt, never even thinking about how I looked or auditioning myself. This group, I soon discovered, was the Ouachi-tones, directed by Mrs. Mary Shambarger. If you know anything about the Ouachi-tones and Mrs. Shambarger, you are laughing right about now about the fact that I was dressed as I was … probably with no lipstick on either!
Apparently, Mrs Shambarger was in need of an accompanist that year, and she seemed to be halfway impressed with my playing — enough to overlook how I was dressed — to offer me an opportunity that forever changed my life. An opportunity to be part of a talented sisterhood, to learn excellence in all things, to model real beauty with integrity, to stretch myself musically, vocally, artistically, and spiritually, and to travel the state, nation, and places abroad, sharing the Ouachita story. Along with making several amazing memories together, we exposed churches, business leaders, civic groups, and many more, to the excellence offered at OBU and the life-giving message of Christ. Little did I realize that these experiences would help shape what has become a recent pursuit of mine, and what we all play an important role in today — investing in and helping shape the future of our beloved Ouachita Baptist University.
And so, it is fitting, as I write while my oldest son is driving back to OBU to continue his sophomore year, that I share this, my Ouachita story. There are so many more wonderful memories and moments, including my EEE sisters, and meeting my husband Andy, but this is what started it all. I’m sure my college education would have been adequate had I chosen another school. But adequate is not what defines the life of a Ouachita student. OBU is a place for those who wish to pursue excellence, who thrive on being difference-makers, and who lead out in being world-shapers! If Ouachita made a difference in your life, tell your story – it’s our turn, and people are waiting to hear!