OBU Recognizes Outstanding Alumni During Annual Homecoming Harvest Dinner

November 2, 2018

OBU recognized exceptional alumni with special awards during its Harvest Dinner Friday, Nov. 2. The annual event is part of the University’s “Zip! Bang! OBU! Homecoming 2018” weekend celebration Nov. 2-4.

The Alumni Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed by the alumni association and is given in recognition of outstanding life service, which has brought honor to the individual’s alma mater. This year, the Alumni Achievement Award was presented to Paul Langford, ’88.

Langford, owner and creator of Paul Langford Studios, is a Chicago-based singer, arranger, keyboardist, producer and conductor, with a career spanning more than 25 years. His works have been performed by vocal and instrumental groups across the globe. He has also performed with many Grammy Award-winning artists and has been honored to perform for both President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama. His voice has been heard on radio and TV commercials for many companies and he is a published choral arranger and composer, as well as an in-demand clinician for musical groups of all varieties.

The Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award is presented to a young alumnus or alumna of OBU, who, in his or her life and career, has demonstrated outstanding achievement and brought pride and honor to the University. The GOLD award was presented to Jacqueline Corley, ’12.

Corley is an assistant professor of computer science at OBU. She is also the founder and executive director of Girls Inspiring Generations International, an organization whose goal is to inspire teen girls to become who they were meant to be and not let society dictate who they are. Before joining the OBU faculty, she worked as the information system data management analyst for the Oklahoma Commissioners of the Land Office in Oklahoma City and as executive fellow for the Carl Albert Public Internship Program.

The Profile in Excellence (PIE) Award is given to former students who have demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation or life service in such a way as to bring honor and pride to the University.

This year the Profile in Excellence Award was presented to Elizabeth Bird, ’98; Chris Cragin-Day, ’99; Steven Day, ’98; Dr. Dan Hodges, ’53; Jeff De Vries, ’93; and Michael Wood, ’03.

Elizabeth Bird, class of 1998, received her first bachelor’s degree in 1991 when she became the first female student from Tahlequah and the first Keetoowah Cherokee to graduate from the University of Notre Dame. Bird graduated from OBU with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies before going on to graduate from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity. She has served as the self-governance coordinator for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, an adjunct professor in the OBU School of Christian Studies and as the Native American director for the Notre Dame Alumni Association board of directors. She is currently the customer service coordinator for Oklahoma City Galaxy Home Recreation.

Chris Cragin-Day, class of 1999, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in both theatre and psychology as a fourth generation Bison. She then earned a Master of Fine Arts in theatre from Baylor University. Since receiving her degree, Chris has become a successful playwright, librettist and screenwriter in New York City. Her plays and musicals have been produced in NYC and throughout the country, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Her play “Martin Luther on Trial,” was presented in New York by Fellowship of the Performing Arts and has enjoyed an off-Broadway run in 2017, a national tour in 2017 and another national tour in 2018. She was one of 12 playwrights selected for the prestigious Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theatre in 2008, is the co-founder and artistic director of Firebone Theatre, which produces faith-based plays, and is an assistant professor of English and theatre at The King’s College.

Steven Day, class of 1998, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre. He began his career directing, where his productions won an NYJT award and nomination, a Drama League fellowship and a membership with the Lincoln Center directing lab. Steve’s studios, Whiteboard Animation and IdeaMachine, have won 21 Telly awards and he has been a featured guest with the BBC, the History Channel, NPR’s Money Matters and ESPN. He has directed animation campaigns for Gluten-free Cheerios, Mobil Oils’ 90th anniversary, the ESPN ESPY awards and the Elmo Xbox game. He now owns and runs his animation studio in Brooklyn with his wife Chris and their two children, Kansas and Noah.

Dr. Dan Hodges, class of 1953, graduated from OBU with a Bachelor of Musical Arts. He then earned a master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, June, have served in churches in Oklahoma, North Carolina and Texas. In 1969, he was hired at OBU as a music professor and taught voice, music theory, humanities and many other classes. He earned his Ph.D. in Music from the University of Oklahoma and then spent many years serving at First Baptist Church of Shawnee.

Jeff De Vries, class of 1993, graduated from OBU with a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications before going on to earn a graduate studies program certificate from Moody Bible Institute. He has claimed several national awards and regional Emmy’s for his work on “Primary Focus,” a newsmagazine show. De Vries is the co-producer of “Faith Chicago,” which was recently named by The National Religious Broadcasters as 2018’s Television Program of the Year. His show highlights the good news happening in Chicagoland about critical issues facing the area and exposes Christians to other believers with different backgrounds. He has worked for Total Living Network since 2004.

Michael Wood graduated from OBU in 2003. He then attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary while ministering to youth at Prestonwood Baptist Church. In 2009, he and his family moved to West Monroe, Louisiana, where he served as the student pastor at First West. After five years, Wood was called to be the lead pastor of First West. He is the youngest pastor in the history of the church and is now responsible for overall leadership of three separate campuses and their almost 6,000 attendees.