Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

April 2012

‘Rebellious’ Teen Changes Her Mind, Enrolls at ECU After All


 ECU student Nikki Dickerson and her family.
Nikki Dickerson (center), a senior at ECU, stands with her family and higher education leaders after speaking at Higher Education Day recently at the state Capitol. With Dickerson are (from left) grandparents Joan and Tom Sorrels of Wayne, ECU President John Hargrave, Dr. Glen Johnson, chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, grandmother Kathy Dickerson of Duncan and mother Phyllis Dickerson of Mustang.

A high school student who at first “rebelled” against enrolling at East Central University now says coming to ECU was the right decision, after all.

Nikki Dickerson, an ECU senior from Mustang, was one of three college students selected to speak during Higher Education Day activities recently at the state Capitol. She and Redlands Community College student Angie Bright and University of Oklahoma student Alyssa Loveless told several legislators, the presidents of about 10 colleges and universities and other college students what higher education meant to them.

Dickerson was asked to talk about how she got to ECU and why she stayed.

“I actually was accepted by a larger university, but they offered me no financial aid. I couldn’t afford it, basically, without taking out loans,” the Mustang High School valedictorian said.

“That’s when my mom finally convinced me to take a look at ECU. I called ECU in May, almost at the last minute” (the year she enrolled), she said. “They were more than willing to help me out. It was great – exactly what I needed to do.”

Dickerson graduated from Mustang High School, a large 6A school, and expected to go to a large university, said her mother, Phyllis Dickerson of Mustang.

“She liked the look of ECU, but the campus is not much larger than her high school campus,” Phyllis Dickerson said. “I think students from large high schools envision all these buildings and a giant college campus.”

When they visited on Parents Day, they learned that Nikki Dickerson qualified for a Regional University Baccalaureate Scholarship that was available at ECU which helps cover the cost of room, board, tuition, books and incidental fees for up to eight semesters.

“ECU called her on the phone, didn’t just send her a letter,” her mother said. “She was amazed at the name recognition. There were a lot of one-on-one personal aspects that really won her over. At first, she said she’d go to ECU for a year and try it out.”

After about one semester, joining some campus organizations and receiving recognition from her professors, “she fell in love with ECU,” her mother said.

Nikki Dickerson, who also receives funding from the ECU Foundation Inc. and the Chickasaw Nation, will earn two bachelor’s degrees from ECU in chemistry and biology and plans to go to medical school after she graduates in May 2013.

“My ECU professors helped me all along the way. They were always suggesting activities to get me involved, and I’ve been very active on campus. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m glad I made that decision (to come to ECU),” she said.

It wasn’t that she had never heard of ECU. In fact, her mother and one grandfather graduated from ECU. Her father, Kirk Dickerson, another grandfather and one grandmother attended ECU and some great-aunts, great-uncles and cousins either attended or graduated from ECU.

And that was the problem.

“I didn’t want to follow my family through ECU. I was being a rebellious high schooler,” she said with a laugh.

And there’s more. Both sets of her grandparents and her parents all met while they were students at ECU. Whether she would follow that romantic tradition has been something of a family joke.

She’s more interested, she said, in following in the steps of one of her grandfathers, Dr. Charles Dickerson, a family practitioner.

He and her grandmother, Kathey Dickerson, live in Duncan. She also is the granddaughter of Tom and Joan Sorrels of Wayne.

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