A symbol of what gratitude in motion can accomplish, that is how Katie Powers views the new mural on the southwest side of Cameron University’s Nance-Boyer Hall.
The mural was the 2019 graduating class’ gift to the university. Powers, who served as the Cameron University 2019 Senior Class Committee Chair, helped spearhead the effort to get the mural created.
Powers was asked to serve as the class’ committee chair by former Cameron University Development Director Lorie Garrison. She was given the opportunity to assemble her own team for the project.
“I was excited to learn about fundraising and even more excited to give back to the school,” Powers said.
Under Garrison’s guidance, Powers began to assemble a team of leaders that she believed would provide a range of diverse perspectives for the project and work diligently to accomplish the committee’s goals. Charlotte Taton, Katherine Pierce and Sydney Prince agreed to serve on the committee alongside her. To the best of her knowledge, it was the first time the committee had been comprised of women leaders.
“Charlotte was a foreign exchange student with vast knowledge in student organization leadership. She wanted to serve to give back to the university that had become her new home,” Powers said. “Katherine Pierce was the Master Program representative on the Senior Class Gift Committee. Katherine is also an employee at Cameron University. Her higher education knowledge and teamwork made the project even better.
“Finally, Sydney Prince brought a great perspective to the committee as a transfer student. Her event planning background through the Native American Student Association was truly invaluable.”
As the committee came together and began to consider what the class gift should embody, one word came to mind: legacy. Careful discernment was applied when considering the gift, Powers said. The committee was establishing a legacy for the class. They wanted to leave their mark, but they knew that whatever they decided it needed to be inclusive of all students.
After much deliberation they decided on a mural. The committee presented its idea and it began to climb the latter of deliberation and approval.
“We were met with some head scratching and rejections at times,” Powers said. “We presented other gift ideas and we were thrilled to circle back to the mural project. We wanted this art piece to celebrated Cameron University, our class and nature. We were determined and hopeful for a successful and approved outcome.”
As the committee’s idea moved through the final stages of the approval process, there wasn’t much they could do other than wait patiently for approval or rejection. In that time the members of the committee had gone their separate ways, according to Powers. Finally, after months of waiting, word came down the chain that the project had been approved.
Upon approval, the committee reached out to local artist Robert Peterson to turn their idea into a reality.
“He has such a wonderful skill and heart for Lawton and Cameron University,” Powers said.
The quote within the mural, “give us truth to light the darkness,” comes from the song “Cameron Pride.” The spirit of that idea is what the committee hoped to capture in their gift.
“Prior to this project, this piece of brick was overlooked and somewhat of an eye-sore. What better of a metaphor for a college education than to take something strong and elevate it to be inspiring as well,” Powers said.
For Powers, the mural has become a symbol of what “gratitude in motion” can accomplish. She hopes that future students will take inspiration from the class of 2019 and work to create their own gifts to leave their soon-to-be Alma Mater.
“Having the opportunity to plan events, fundraise, and give back to Cameron University was a joy for us all,” Powers said. “The privilege to give something back to the students and community was truly an honor.”