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Fall 2013 Banner Carrier Reflects on Time at CLS

Ryan Tupps, 2013 Fall Banner Carrier

A Conversation with Ryan Tupps

Ryan Tupps served as the Banner Carrier this December for the Fall 2013 Convocation ceremony. Ryan was selected for his outstanding academic achievements.

What life or college experiences led you to CLS?

I began my studies at the University of Oklahoma in the Fall of 1999, directly after graduating from Cascia Hall Preparatory School in Tulsa. I wound up leaving OU after my freshman year to work for my family’s small business. While working provided me with the opportunity to gain real-world business experience, I always hoped to someday return to get my degree. After the recession hit in 2008, our family business suffered, and I realized that a degree would be imperative should the worst case scenario occur: the closure of the business. I enrolled in the College of Liberal Studies in the fall of 2010 and haven’t looked back since. For the first four semesters, I attended classes online while working full time.

Unfortunately, the business did wind up closing in December 2011. Around that same time, we learned that my wife was pregnant with our first child. After the business closed, I continued taking classes online, but now I would be a stay-at-home dad! Having a child was a blessing but also a reminder of how important obtaining my degree from OU was. The drive to provide for my family, and my desire to make them proud of me, led me to reapply for admission to OU in 2010, and it was the best decision I have ever made.

What is your current job and what are your responsibilities?

During my undergraduate studies, I was fortunate to be selected to serve in Washington, D.C., as a congressional intern in the office of congressman Tom Cole, of the 4th District of Oklahoma. I enjoyed my time in D.C. immensely and discovered that I wanted to be involved in Oklahoma politics when I returned home. This internship fueled my interest in politics and has driven my career path.

I currently work as an account manager with AH Strategies, a political strategy firm in Oklahoma City. In my job, I am able to witness the fast-paced and exciting world of local, state and federal political campaigns. Each day brings a new set of challenges and opportunities to grow, and I look forward to learning more each and every day. I feel that my experiences from the College of Liberal Studies have enabled me to tackle my job responsibilities in a capable and professional manner.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the fast pace at which my job moves. The organizational and time-management skills that I learned as a CLS student enable me to stay level-headed and to complete my job tasks in a timely fashion. Additionally, of course, I am grateful for the opportunity to better my community through our political system.

Did any particular person or incident inspire you to get your degree?

My wife and daughter inspired me to get my degree. Providing for my family is of the utmost importance to me, and I knew that I would find success with my degree from OU. Rather than becoming frightened by the challenge of obtaining my degree, I was inspired by the notion and feel that I rose to the challenge.

I am living proof that it is not too late–it is NEVER too late—to return to college to finish your education. Obtaining this degree taught me lessons in perseverance, time-management and balancing all the things that are truly important in life. Valuing yourself and making your future and education a priority are the true rewards.

I am living proof that it is not too late–it is NEVER too late—to return to college to finish your education.

How did you hear about the OU College of Liberal Studies?

My ties with OU are strong. I was a former student of the university. My wife is a two-time graduate of OU, with both her bachelor’s and law degrees. I had lived in Norman for eight years, although I had moved away prior to beginning my studies with CLS. Truthfully, there was never another option for me. Although Hoosier born, I was definitely Sooner bred. I began researching a return to OU’s Norman campus and was delighted to learn that the College of Liberal Studies would enable me to complete my studies without making the long drive to Norman each day for class.

What challenges did you face while working on your degree?

Occasionally, I felt that the time commitment needed to complete my degree was just too great.

This became especially true once my first child was born. My schedule alternated between baby, school and sleep. The financial commitment involved with a return to school full time was enormous. My wife and I tried to pay as much as possible toward my tuition and fees with the money we had, but it was not enough. We actually sold our extra possessions on eBay to make ends meet. Additionally, I took out student loans to help my family survive financially during my time in school.

What motivated you to push through those challenges?

Although not ideal, due to the financial burden that returning to Ryan Tupps, 2013 Fall Banner Carrierschool placed upon my new family, I made a commitment to them and to myself that I would make these educational expenses worth it. In order to do so, I needed to focus on the end goal of obtaining my degree and walking across the stage to accept my diploma. Providing for my family was my ultimate goal. We cut back on our spending, we scrimped and saved, and I was fortunate to receive a helpful financial award from my Native American tribe each semester. Although the majority of my tuition and fees were financed by my student loans, I was fortunate to even have the opportunity to complete my education, so I look at the loans as a small price to pay. The thought of repaying student loans is far more bearable knowing that I have been blessed with a good job and knowing that my degree from OU helped me obtain that job.

How will having this degree impact your life?

I am living proof that it is not too late–it is NEVER too late—to return to college to finish your education. Obtaining this degree taught me lessons in perseverance, time-management and balancing all the things that are truly important in life. Valuing yourself and making your future and education a priority are the true rewards.

What did you learn about yourself while you were a CLS student?

I learned that I am capable. I am smart. I am worth investing in. While working full time and parenting full time, I maintained a 4.0 GPA in my studies and became a recipient of the President’s Medallion at OU. I learned that people are willing to help you in your journey, if you just ask. For example, the tribal scholarship offered by my tribe, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, was helpful in allowing me to continue my studies, as were the Sooner Heritage Scholarships I was awarded. I am now a member of Golden Key, the OU American Indian Honor Society, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and was named to the Dean’s List all nine semesters. I now proudly hold a degree in Administrative Leadership with Special Distinction from the University of Oklahoma’s College of Liberal Studies. Thanks to my invaluable education from OU, I am confident that my future is boundless.

The College of Liberal Studies is a fully accredited academic unit of the University of Oklahoma, offering 100% online, hybrid and onsite bachelor's and master's degrees for working adults and non-traditional students.

1 Comment

  1.' Rebecca Reaves says:

    Congratulations on your degree, and your family Ryan! I also earned my bachelor and master degrees from the CLS program at OU. I didn’t start until 2002!

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