Record donations raised for student scholarships during Eastern’s 2017 Sapphire Ball


WILBURTON, OK (March 30, 2017) – Generous donors and supporters of Eastern Oklahoma State College raised a record $31,641.33 for student scholarships during the college’s eighth annual Sapphire Ball on Saturday.

Eastern President Dr. Stephen E. Smith said he is grateful to the corporate and organization sponsors, individual donors and attendees that have helped raised more than $100,000 since the event started. Ten students have received the Sapphire Scholarship so far and generations of future Eastern students will benefit as the scholarship endowment grows.

“Many times the success of our students relies heavily on local partnerships and donors who are willing to invest in their education. We believe this investment will pay dividends when our students graduate, enter the workforce and become future leaders in our communities,” Smith said. “The Sapphire Ball has become a premier event for this college and our area. There’s a wonderful spirit of inspiration, generosity and gratitude among the students, alumni, faculty, staff and guests in attendance. These scholarships change lives.”

The annual black-tie fundraiser included dinner, a silent and live auction, student entertainment and an awards presentation honoring alumni, outstanding employees and community supporters. A total of 21 corporate, organization and individual donors sponsored the event, while 99 auction items were donated by an additional 76 donors.

During the awards presentation, Smith honored four individuals and one organization who have made a significant impact on the college or in their community.

Shelley Free of Red Oak (Class of 1982) and Bobby Mouser of Stigler (Class of 1984) received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented annually to alumni who have distinguished themselves professionally and through service to the college.

Shelley Free’s commitment to improving the lives of the citizens in southeastern Oklahoma has led to a 32-year career in education. She began her career as a business teacher, high school softball coach and assistant high school basketball coach at Talihina Public School. In 1997, after 12 years in the public school system, Free pursued an opportunity as a business and computer technology instructor at Kiamichi Technology Center (KTC) in Talihina. As she furthered her career with KTC, she served as the campus director in Talihina, and deputy superintendent and chief operational officer before being named to her current role as superintendent and chief executive officer in 2014. Free now oversees 250 full-time employees at 10 campus sites and the administrative office in Wilburton. As a strong community leader, she was selected to Leadership Oklahoma’s Class 30 in 2015. The 10-month program exposes a diverse group of state leaders to the many social and environmental complexities of the state in an effort to help analyze and develop solutions for the public good.

Free earned her associate degree in business education from Eastern in 1982. She continued her education by earning a bachelor’s degree in business education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1985 and a master’s degree in school administration from East Central University in 2001.

Bobby Mouser spent 35 years contributing to the success of Public Service Company of Oklahoma in managerial and leadership roles in areas including sales, customer service, marketing, strategic planning, and economic development. He retired from PSO in 2015 to accept a new career challenge and return home to Stigler, Oklahoma. In January 2015, he became the city manager and considers the opportunity to serve his hometown as a dream come true. Mouser also serves as the general manager of the Stigler Municipal Improvement Authority, director of Economic Development and manager of the Stigler Regional Airport. In 2005, Mouser was appointed to serve a seven-year term as a member of the Eastern Board of Regents.

After graduating from Eastern in 1984, Mouser earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He is also a marketing and finance graduate of the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.

AT&T Oklahoma received the Community Spirit Award for outstanding support and service to Eastern. AT&T Oklahoma has provided numerous donations to support student scholarships, student leadership initiatives and academic programs at Eastern. AT&T Oklahoma and Eastern have also created a unique private-public partnership to benefit the greater Latimer and Pittsburg county areas. In 2014, AT&T built a 350-foot tower on Eastern’s Wilburton campus to provide 4G LTE service to the area. The tower, which was then gifted to Eastern, provided a place to install equipment to launch Mountaineer Radio KWLB 93.1 FM, the college’s 25,000-watt radio station.

The President’s Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to Cheryl Wood-Myers of Wilburton. Eastern has always been an important part of her life, as a child, then as a student, later as an alumna, and now as a faculty member. A lifelong Wilburton resident, Wood-Myers participated in the Children’s Theatre Workshop for many years during her childhood. In 1980, she earned an associate degree in psychology from Eastern and was named the Outstanding Psychology Graduate. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oklahoma State University in 1982 and a master’s degree in psychology and higher education from Northeastern State University in 1990.

Hoping to be a positive influence in peoples’ lives, Wood-Myers spent 21 years as a social worker with the Latimer County Department of Human Services in areas including child welfare, services to families with children, adult protective services, and the elderly. In 2008, she decided to follow her desire to teach and her love for Eastern and become a full-time faculty member. She teaches psychology, sociology and child development while serving in faculty leadership roles and on numerous committees. She was chosen as Outstanding Faculty Member in 2014 by the Honors Program students and in 2009 by Student Support Services students.

Wood-Myers is a board member for the EOSC Foundation and is a member of the Kilihoti Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. A lifelong supporter of the Wilburton High School Alumni Association, she received the George Giacomo Award for service to the association in 2015.

Rhonda Price Quinn of Wilburton received the J.C. Hunt Award for staff excellence. Quinn has been involved in cattle ranching her entire life so she found a natural home in Eastern’s Agriculture Division, becoming the administrative assistant to the division in January 1996. For 21 years, she has supported students and faculty, while assisting with scholastic contests and other agriculture-related events on campus. Each year she plans and helps execute numerous livestock shows, working with hundreds of youth and high school exhibitors, volunteer college students, and community members during the process.

Quinn has been active in the community, assisting with fundraising activities for organizations including Pick A Star, St. Jude’s and the American Cancer Society. She also assists with many of the local FFA chapters’ livestock shows and is a member of the Grace Country Cowboy Church. She graduated from Eastern with an associate degree in business in 1991. She continued her education at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, earning her bachelor’s degree in business education in 1993.

Eastern President Dr. Stephen E. Smith (far left) gathers with honorees at the 2017 Sapphire Ball. Honorees include (from left to right) Cheryl Wood-Myers, President’s Excellence in Teaching Award; Rhonda Price Quinn, J.C. Hunt Award; Shelley Free and Bobby Mouser, Distinguished Alumnus Awards.

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