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Oklahoma Panhandle State University

Start Here, Go Anywhere
"Start here, go anywhere" is a phrase proven true for countless Oklahoma Panhandle State University students since the school got its start in 1909. The mission of the university is "to provide higher education primarily for people of the Oklahoma Panhandle through academic programs, cultural enrichment, lifelong learning experiences, and public service activities," and this friendly campus nestled in Goodwell is doing that very thing.

It’s not uncommon at all for students in the School of Science, Math, and Nursing at Panhandle State to have their sights set on continuing their education in pursuit of becoming a doctor or veterinarian among many other careers after they obtain their bachelor’s degree.

Abigail Gordon recently completed her bachelor’s degree in biology at Panhandle State and now has her sights on the future.

Gordon said, "Furthering my education beyond a bachelor’s degree has always been my plan, and I am very happy to say that I was accepted into the Langston University Doctor of Physical Therapy program. I have dreamed about this opportunity for so long, and I am very grateful that God allowed me to experience this achievement."

Originally from Texhoma, Oklahoma., Gordon was very familiar with the area, and Panhandle State was a great fit for her.

"OPSU was a huge stepping stone to this acceptance. The small class sizes provided me with good opportunities to learn, and the availability of professors enabled me to receive personal attention and help when needed."

Dr. Jake Strain has a story similar to Gordon’s, having graduated from high school locally and choosing to attend Panhandle State. Strain was born and raised in Goodwell.

"Panhandle State has always been home to me. I love it here."

A scholarship to play basketball for the Aggies, combined with academic scholarships and Strain’s relationship with his family, made the decision to stay close to home an easy one.

"I am really, really family-oriented. My mom and dad both went here (Panhandle State). My dad was on the rodeo team, and my mom played softball. This university had a huge part in shaping them into who they are."

That decision to become an Aggie set Strain on the path he is on today. He originally had medical school in mind when he began classes as a freshman majoring in biology. That was before a knee injury his sophomore year began to steer his path towards physical therapy school.

What started out as therapy for his knee injury with Eric Johnson at Elite Physical Therapy in Guymon, Oklahoma. turned into a job for Strain as a technician at the clinic. It wasn’t until the spring of Strain’s senior year at Panhandle State and much discussion with his family that he made the decision to apply for physical therapy school at Langston University.

He was accepted and began classes in June just a month after graduating from Panhandle State. The rest is history.

Strain and Johnson are now in a partnership at Elite Physical Therapy, where they currently serve three outpatient clinics, three hospitals, two skilled nursing facilities, one nursing home, local schools and a home health agency.

For Strain, his favorite thing about the profession is, "We are different than a lot of other medical professions that may have a total face time with a patient of 30 minutes. We get to spend a lot of face time with our patients. We get to see them at their worst physical time and get them back to their best again. It is rewarding."

Strain spoke about his time at Panhandle State and how he gets to give back to the place where it all started. "Some of the best friendships and memories came from here. We see a lot of the Panhandle State athletes. It has been cool to contribute back to here."

Not only has Strain given back to the student-athletes whom he can relate to, but he also has invested countless hours in the lives of students as they begin their journey to physical therapy school with observation hours and internships at Elite Physical Therapy.

Gordon is one of those students Strain has invested in.

"There are a lot of people who have to observe and you can tell who is going to be good. You can tell by their passion. Abigail is that way. She came to observe on her own time, multiple times. She will make a really good physical therapist. She loves people, and she loves helping them. She is very passionate about building that foundational relationship with people. You can tell that she cares."

Students continue to fulfill their dreams at this university they become so fond of.

Panhandle State Art Jubilee Partners With Galleon
From junior high students to college-age students who help make it possible, a highlight of the school year for many area art students is the annual Panhandle Area Art Jubilee held at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Hosted by the Panhandle State art department and Images Art Club, this year marks its 19th anniversary. This year, the jubilee will be funded through a partnership with Galleon Restaurant of Guymon, Oklahoma.

  Through a three-year partnership, the relationship began with Galleon’s search for a muralist for the interior of its building and the Panhandle State art department’s need to fund the Art Jubilee. Art department faculty members were excited to engage in community service, so art professors Brent Shoulders, Yvonne Sangster and Bryon Test together created an acrylic triptych of three galleons at sea on a map depicting the traditional spice trade routes. The triptych is approximately seven feet tall and 10 feet wide. Galleon specializes in Spanish-Mexican-Filipino fusion cuisine. The menu offers a fusion of cultures and spices carried on the Spanish trade routes from 1565 to 1815 from Mexico to the Philippines.

Galleon owners Manny and Susan Barias are passionate about community and the arts, so it was a natural partnership that will provide the jubilee with merit awards for area high school students as well as artist and workshop fees for the annual. High school students and community members can sit in and take advantage of art demonstrations by nationally and internationally recognized artists.

"Art Jubilee opens an avenue for people in the five-state area to learn from top-quality artists in a very laid-back atmosphere, and it provides access to quality arts programming for many regional schools. The partnership with the Barias and Galleon will make this all happen. Their support for the arts and OPSU is greatly appreciated because without it many students within our service area may never take part in such great programming,” said Panhandle State art professor Brent Shoulders.

The next Art Jubilee is set for April 11-13, 2017, and will feature demonstrations and workshops by sought-after artists such as Kristy Patterson of Guymon.

Galleon Restaurant is located at 118 NW 6th St., Suite 100, in Guymon. For more information, visit

Panhandle State Students Benefit From Community Support
Oklahoma Panhandle State University has a history of strong partnerships with many employers in our community. In fall 2016, OPSU brought those partnerships even deeper with commitments from two progressive and industry-leading local businesses.

Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC) and Panhandle Telephone Cooperative Inc. (PTCI) have committed to a memo of understanding in which each company will take two students from the School of Business and Technology per year and/or semester as paid interns.

The real-world, high-tech experience and mentorship provided by these businesses have been key components in the high demand for Panhandle State graduates. The availability of these phenomenal opportunities gives students a clear advantage over many other graduates without any real-world experience.

"While our academics are top notch, there is no substitute for hands-on mentorship by industry professionals," said Dean of Business and Technology Joe Breeden.

Many of the current employees at both TCEC and PTCI are Panhandle State alumni and graduates of the School of Business and Technology. They are passionate about giving back to Panhandle through their tutelage of the next generation of students.

"The key to our way of life in the Panhandle is relationships and family. These organizations treat Panhandle State and our students like family, creating bonds that will last a lifetime. Together, We Are Panhandle," Breeden added.

"Many of the employees at PTCI are OPSU alumni and very proud of our time there. PTCI is always in search of great talent. Great talent with an Information Technology (IT) specific degree is in short supply in rural America," said Brian Hough, Panhandle State graduate and PTCI broadband network and data services supervisor. "OPSU’s presence in rural Oklahoma and its outstanding track record in the computer information systems (CIS) discipline provides the opportunity for a mutually beneficial partnership between OPSU and PTCI. PTCI’s CEO is very dedicated to growing the relationship between our cooperative and OPSU."

"Our longstanding relationship with OPSU has always been mutually beneficial. This internship agreement continues that tradition. Interns gain hands-on experience alongside six highly qualified professionals, three of whom are OPSU graduates. Our department gains extra help and insight from the next generation of specialists," said TCEC Vice President of Information Technology Brenda Merkle.

For more information about internships possibilities, contact Joe Breeden at or 580.349.1469.

Wind Energy/ Maintenance Technology Certificate at OPSU
Oklahoma Panhandle State University is now offering a Certificate in Principles of Wind Energy/Maintenance Technology.

Those interested in entering the wind energy, agribusiness or petroleum energy maintenance field can choose the quick certificate track. This certificate of completion provides focused instruction on the basic knowledge requirements to enter the maintenance profession and takes approximately two semesters to complete.

Students take a wide variety of courses such as college algebra, applied electricity principles, programmable logic controllers, hydraulics, and logic and design.

OPSU began looking into ways to provide training for the new industry of wind energy in 2007. With the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approving the embedded certificate approach, OPSU was able to develop the wind energy/maintenance technology program. This certificate can provide students looking to enter the maintenance technology field as quickly as possible with an edge over other applicants with no maintenance technology education.

OPSU Dean of Business and Technology Diane Murphey said, "We are pleased to be able to help area businesses that need wind energy and maintenance technology training for their employees."

62nd Annual Bull Sale Summary
The 62nd Annual Oklahoma Panhandle State University Performance Tested Bull Sale was held Feb. 24, 2014. Fifty-nine bulls brought $222,950 for an average of $3,778.81 each.

An Angus bull consigned by OPSU Angus of Goodwell, Oklahoma, was the top-selling bull at $7,100. The bull is a son of GAR OAF 1I2 Rito 7041G and sold to Tom Stephens of Guymon, Oklahoma, The next top-selling bull was an Angus consigned by Wink Farms of Panhandle, Texas, and also sold to Tom Stephens for $6,600. The sire of this bull was GAR Twinhearts 8418. One of the Simmental bulls consigned to the test sold for $4,000, one Maine-Anjou sold for $1,850, and the three Herefords sold for an average of $1,766.67.

Dr. Jerry Martin, OPSU agriculture professor and bull test director, said, "For the past 62 years, Oklahoma Panhandle State University has been fortunate enough to cooperate with beef cattle producers in the region in improving their beef cattle by conducting the bull performance testing program."

For more information or a complete report of all of the bulls in the 62nd Annual Beef Bull Performance Test and Sale, contact Gwen Martin at 580.349.1500 or

Live Fire Training for OPSU Students
The smell of smoke is the first thing that grabs the attention of Oklahoma Panhandle State University's Fire Protection Safety Training program students when approaching the Guymon Fire Department's training tower during the live fire training on the night of Oct. 8. Donning school-sponsored bunker gear, the interns got to test their courage and practice what textbooks have no way of teaching.

Adrenaline is just the byproduct of what these young men have running through their veins caused by fear and excitement. Their eyes shine with determination. Their faces, barely old enough to grow hair, gleam with sweat and soot.

During live fire training, Guymon Fire Department firefighters practice mayday training, proper use of PPE and SCBA, general fire and smoke behaviors, catching a hydrant, hose deployment, line placement, incident command, search and rescue, fire extinguishment and correct nozzle application. These men are the future of the fire service. Interns are Carson Kane (Guymon), Noe Santillan (Guymon), Jarod Loftis (Boise City), Zachary Gregory (Thomas), David Morris (Corpus Christi, Texas), Dalton Bebout (Purcell), Caleb Mihelic (Goodwell) and Alex Tuttle (Comanche).

Second-year intern Dalton Bebout said, "We are blessed to be able to get practice in a controlled environment. It's safer, and they can teach us a lot more. Not many departments have this opportunity."

Along with the live fire training, OPSU emergency medical technology students got some of the action. In order to protect firefighters from the dangers of this type of training, rehab is mandatory for all participants. When exiting the training tower fire, firefighters are directed to emergency medical personnel to get a checkup and continue to be monitored if vitals are outside of normal range. Strenuous physical activity with 50 pounds of gear in a fire tends to spike baseline vitals, so EMT students have to be quick-thinking. Students quickly learned staging an ambulance, patient assessment, immobilizing a patient, proper patient loading in an ambulance and transport operations.

These students remained calm under the pressure of the scene, which in a real-world situation can be chaotic at best. The EMT students were eager to help, quick to learn and professional with patients. Once they burned through the fear of patient contact, their confidence took over and they provided excellent patient care. EMT students are Kayla Harris (Guymon), Kei Harris (Avondale, Ariz.), Brandi Mueller (Guymon), DeVeonna Munson (Seattle, Wash.), Juan Ramirez (Huntington Park, Calif.) and Victor Saucedo (Boise City).

Oklahoma Panhandle State University and the Guymon Fire Department have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship based on education and community for more than 12 years. OPSU's fire protection program offers students the opportunity to work side-by-side with professional firefighters in Guymon while training to respond to emergencies. In addition, students can benefit by taking advantage of grants to use for Firefighter I and Emergency Medical Technician Basic and Intermediate training through GFD while pursuing an associate of applied science degree in fire protection service technology. That way, the student can offer a potential employer a complete package — a fully trained fire protection professional with experience and training in emergency response and rescue. Students also benefit from the Guymon Fire Department's training center that opened last summer. The four-story facility contains more than 2,000 square feet of training space used for confined space training, trench rescue training and rappelling. OPSU and the Guymon Fire Department proudly partner to provide education that addresses the continuing need for trained professionals to respond to fire and emergency medical calls in area communities.

Oklahoma Panhandle State University and PTCI, the area's local telecommunications cooperative, have sustained a mutually beneficial partnership over the past several years. The cooperative serves all of the Oklahoma Panhandle and northern Texas Panhandle with landline and cellular phone service, digital television and internet services. PTCI supports OPSU with generous financial contributions, but the two entities also collaborate on educational opportunities.

In fall 2004, PTCI and OPSU formalized a working partnership to produce local video content to air on PTCI’s interactive, digital television network. The OPSU-PTCI video production collaboration provides education for students and local programming for the cooperative. In addition to traditional classroom learning at OPSU, students benefit by learning all of the hands-on aspects of shooting, editing and producing professional-quality video. The program has produced additional coursework and increased PTCI’s output production. Past events covered include area public school athletic events, graduation ceremonies, community celebrations and documentaries of local interest. That partnership continues today, and in fact, two OPSU graduates now work for PTCI in video production. The program has expanded to include "Inside OPSU," a biweekly television show that features OPSU departments and airs on PTCI's local access cable channels.

PTCI also continues to support scholarships, athletic programs and building projects at OPSU. The local company was one of the first to donate funds to complete the student apartments on campus as well as the new Science and Agriculture Building.

PTCI's CEO Ron Strecker said, "It has been great to watch the appearance of the campus change over the past several years and PTCI is proud to have been supporter of some of those improvements."

In addition, the long-term relationship between the two has garnered PTCI an Economic Development Partnership Recognition award from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

According to OPSU President Dave Bryant, "PTCI is one of OPSU's premier partners in economic and community development in the Panhandle region and a tremendous supporter of education in all of its forms."

OPSU’s Krista X 2 = Success at Guymon City Offices
Oklahoma Panhandle State University students Krista Hawkins and Krista Johnson are also hard-working and valued interns serving the city of Guymon.

Vicki Ayers-McCune (standing) of the city of Guymon is pictured working with Krista Johnson (far left) and Krista Hawkins. Both Johnson and Hawkins are students at Oklahoma Panhandle State University and also work in the Guymon city offices as interns. Scott Puryear photo.Hawkins, a senior from Guymon majoring in marketing, balances her studies with internship work as a tourist information assistant. She reports to Vicki Ayers-McCune, executive director of community development and the Business Enterprise Center.

Hawkins assists visitors as well as potential new residents who come to the community and also works with Ayers-McCune in graphic design. A former member of the OPSU rodeo team, Hawkins is considering a marketing career in the public sector, and she is receiving excellent preparatory training to do just that.

Johnson is a senior from Peyton, Colo., majoring in business finance. She is well known to area rodeo fans based upon her national championship in breakaway roping last summer at the college finals.

Johnson effectively balances studies and rodeo activities with her internship role working for Melissa Bond, city clerk. In her role with the city, Johnson assists with meeting preparation and minutes as well as with credit card reports. She is looking at continuing her balancing act after graduation – with work in the financial field and an eye on the professional rodeo circuit.

Both Kristas are excellent students and will someday be assuming leadership roles in their chosen fields.

Service learning is an important component of “The OPSU Experience,” and several students are finishing their respective educations as well as making strong contributions to area employers at the same time.

PTCI, a regional telecommunications provider, has supported Oklahoma Panhandle State University in a variety of ways over the years. The local cooperative continues to back the programming team, and they consistently provide employment opportunities for graduates and students. PTCI initially provided $35,000 for OPSU to purchase cameras, lighting and editing equipment for producing video. In return, OPSU offers video production classes to educate students. Instruction includes teaching proper use of the equipment and video editing techniques and filming of the community-wide events. What began as an ambitious learning project has evolved into an educational economic development opportunity. Due to the number of hours spent on production of each video project, PTCI added money this year to help fund a video production assistant for the program. “As the project matures, we anticipate revenue for OPSU from advertising, sale of videos, and marketing increased local content production,” said Diane Murphey, OPSU’s dean of business and technology. In addition, as faculty and students have gained in digital production experience, those teaching and learning in the program have produced more course work, integrated and recruited additional students, and increased output to be utilized by PTCI.

Tri-County Electric Cooperative and Oklahoma Panhandle State University are working together on several important projects this year. Tri-County provides financial support to the university for its “Community Service Learning,” a part of the OPSU School of Business. Each semester, as part of their studies, several students are assigned to work for and with area non-profit organizations in as many phases of that organization as possible. Area groups served by the OPSU Community Service Learning program in the past include the American Red Cross, March of Dimes, Guymon Chamber of Commerce, Texas County Election Board, OSU Extension and 4-H.

The Guymon Chamber of Commerce Education Committee asked for and worked with OPSU to offer continuing education and professional development classes in Guymon to promote the economic development of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Guymon remains the center of commerce for the widely scattered, isolated population of the Oklahoma Panhandle. OPSU has addressed the needs of the rapidly-growing Spanish speaking population by providing classes for employers and business people to learn basic Spanish conversational skills and also provides English classes for those with limited English proficiency. In addition, the Guymon Classroom provides convenient access to courses essential for any degree program, which benefits the general population.

USDA Rural Development (external link)

Oklahoma City Human Resources Society (external link)

Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance (external link)

i2E (external link)

Resources for Student Veterans and Active-Duty Military

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (external link)