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Susie Jackson builds ties with fellow grads“It’s a love story about OC.”
That’s how Susie (Patterson) Jackson describes her involvement with her alma mater.
Susie graduated from Oklahoma Christian in 1979 with a degree in elementary education. She’s spent her post-OC years teaching kindergarten, serving children with disabilities, and reaching out to OC alumni, students and future students.
She’s the natural choice to be the honorary chair for this year’s Homecoming because she loves OC and loves connecting others with the university.
“I know of no one who does more to connect with young alums and estranged alums. It really is inspiring,” Executive Director of Alumni Relations Bob Lashley (74) said.
Susie has been actively involved with the North Texas Alumni Association since it began in 2003. She joined OC’s Board of Trustees in 2005. She and her husband Mark (78) have hosted countless events for students. Their lead gift helped build OC’s Jackson Family Intramural Fields for students to enjoy.
A recent September day is a snapshot of Susie’s passion. She joined President John deSteiguer and other OC representatives at Fort Worth Christian School in Texas, talking up the university and hearing from parents who were excited about the experience their kids were having at Oklahoma Christian.
Then, she hopped in the car for the three-hour trip to OC for a Homecoming meeting and an alumni callout. She kicked off her shoes, kicked back on the floor, and called alum after alum to invite them back for Homecoming.
Susie and Mark met on the OC campus and married in 1978. Three of their children, Katherine Branch (05), John Paul and Joel, attended Oklahoma Christian, and Royce is a high school senior. John Paul was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy. He found friendship and support at Oklahoma Christian.
Susie is especially thankful for people like OC men’s basketball coach Dan Hays, missionary-in-residence Kent Hartman (77), fellow trustees Mike Arnold (78) and Mark Wiley, and distinguished professor of Bible Dr. Stafford North and his wife JoAnne for their impact on John Paul’s life.
“One of the things that makes me really proud to be associated with OC is that students who learn differently are welcomed and appreciated through the Bridge Program,” Susie said.
As much as OC means to her now, Susie can recall a time when she wasn’t connected to the university.
On a trip to Oklahoma City, she stopped by a relatively deserted campus during Fall Break, and literally found herself on the outside looking in … peering through a window into a place she once called home.
She knows some alumni feel like they’ve done the same thing.
“We don’t want alumni just peering in. We want to tell them, ‘We’re open. Come see us.’ It’s really important they feel cared about, whether they had a negative experience or a positive experience. We love unconditionally here,” Susie said. “OC is always a place alumni can come home to. When they’re ready to step back, they’ll receive a big welcome.”
By Wes McKinzie (98)