Laura Hillman
Alumni Spring 2024

A Lifelong Symphony of Impact

Dr. Laura Dawn Hillman, ’90, is living a life of focusing on God and pointing others to Him.

Close your eyes and imagine the sound of someone ringing a bell.

Now open your eyes and think what it must be like to have chemo and radiation treatment five days a week for 5 ½ weeks. That’s taking chemo twice a day and radiation each morning.

On the evening Dr. Laura Hillman received the OBU Alumni Achievement Award, she proudly said, “This morning was my last treatment and I got to ring that bell. And I can still hear it. It’s pretty cool.”

Stage IV metastatic cancer isn’t the whole story for Hillman, a 1990 music education graduate. However, it’s undoubtedly an amazing part of it.

A Melodic Beginning

In the world of education, there are individuals whose commitment to their craft transcends the classroom walls. Hillman precisely represents that.

Hillman’s journey began in 1990 when she earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree from OBU. Little did she know that this was just the prelude to a lifelong symphony of impact. Her passion for music education led her to Cheyenne Public Schools in Cheyenne, Oklahoma, where she assumed the role of vocal music director. For more than three decades, she has nurtured young musical talents, molding them into harmonious beings.

A Crescendo of Excellence

While her initial degree laid the foundation, Hillman’s commitment to excellence drove her to pursue higher education. In 2021, she earned a Doctor of Education degree, specializing in leadership and organizational change, from Baylor University. This advanced degree equipped her with the knowledge and skills to not only guide her students but also to inspire her colleagues and the broader educational community.

A Chorus of Accolades

Hillman’s contributions to music education have not gone unnoticed. Throughout her career, she has received a chorus of honors.

In 2002, she was named Teacher of the Year at Denison (Texas) High School. Two decades later, history repeated itself when she received the same honor at Cheyenne High School in 2022. Her exceptional expertise was further recognized when she was honored as the Director of Distinction by the Western Oklahoma Choral Directors Association in the same year.

Beyond the classroom, she took center stage as a featured presenter at the Oklahoma Music Education Association Winter Conference in 2023, sharing her wisdom with educators statewide.

The Overture of Community Service

Hillman’s impact extends far beyond the notes on a musical score. She is an active member of her community, dedicating her time to organizations like the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Sorosis Club.

As the board of directors secretary for Friends of the Rook, she plays a pivotal role in the restoration and renovation of the historic Rook Movie Theater and the Cheyenne Star newspaper office, transforming them into vibrant venues for community events.

Her commitment to her local church shines through as she shares her musical talents as a private piano, voice and guitar teacher and contributes as a pianist, worship music team member and adult Sunday School teacher.

A Proud Alumna and Leader

Hillman’s connection with OBU runs deep. She has served as an esteemed member of the OBU Alumni Association Board and has held various leadership positions, including her recent role as president.

Her dedication and passion for her community, her students and her alma mater exemplify the highest standards of excellence. Hillman’s contributions are not just appreciated; they are celebrated, and she stands as a testament to the values OBU instills in its alumni.

Focus and Point

Although her body was weak, it was evident Hillman’s spirit was strong as she accepted the Alumni Achievement Award with a speech that is a shining example of what faith integration can lead to after Bison Hill.

“Throughout my life, whenever I was at a loss for what to say or do, God told me, “Focus on Me, point them to Jesus,’” she said. “For example, there’s teaching. ‘What am I supposed to do, teach, or am I supposed to be a missionary?’ God said, ‘Focus on Me, point them to Jesus.’”

Hillman has been an educator for 34 years.

“Another example, ‘Am I ready to become a parent?’” she said. “God said, ‘Focus on Me, point them to Jesus.’”

Then she asked herself how she, a single woman, was supposed to teach a Bible class to a group of married couples. God gave her the same answer.

Next came, “‘How do I answer everyone’s questions about when we lost everything we owned to a random wildfire?’ ‘Focus on Me, point them to Jesus.’”

Last December, when Hillman was told she had stage IV metastatic adenocarcinoma, God’s direction didn’t change.

“Then, when I rang the bell this morning to signify the end of chemo and radiation treatments, God said, ‘Point them to Jesus and focus on Me.’

“Last but not least, at 2:23 this afternoon, when I didn’t know what I was going to say this evening, God said, ‘Focus on Me and point them to Jesus,’ so would you please join me in singing ‘Blessed Assurance?’”

As the group stood to sing, clearly touched by her words, it was evident she had indeed pointed the crowd to Jesus.