Don’t look for David Bryant to take the easy path, because nothing in his story has gone the way things are supposed to.
Statistically, his journey from California to Oklahoma, from Forklift Operator to Walmart Management, shouldn’t have happened. It doesn’t make sense, and Bryant is the first one to acknowledge that.
“The way that everything happened is completely against statistics,” he said. “So the only answer, to me, is God. Everything that’s happened has happened because of God.”
And realize: a lot has happened. Bryant was raised in San Bernardino, California, and he wasn’t supposed to end up in Oklahoma at all. On June 1, 2009, he boarded a Greyhound bus bound for Texas, where Bryant was traveling to expand an entrepreneurial business venture that had taken off in California. When he arrived, though, something was off, and Bryant didn’t even bother to leave the bus station. Dallas wasn’t for him. “I just thought to myself, ‘I don’t like it, I don’t want to be here.’”
He bought another ticket and started the return journey, only to get a call from his grandfather’s wife, delivering harsh news. His grandfather, who lived in Tahlequah, had cancer. Bryant quickly rerouted north to take care of his family. He finally stepped into the Oklahoma sunlight on June 6, almost a week after he’d set out. On the way, he’d had to ask for toiletries from the hotels near the bus stops, and he cleaned up in whatever restrooms he could find.
At first, Oklahoma wasn’t for him, either. There was a major culture shock coming from the massive cities he was used to in California. “When I first got here, I did not like it. I could not stand Oklahoma,” he said. But he settled in, got a job, and soon met the woman that he would later marry. Before long, the state started to grow on him.
In May of 2011, Bryant made the best choice of his life: he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. In June, he made the second-best choice of his life: he drove to the courthouse and married his wife. They soon welcomed their first son.
“If my tuition is going to go to any school, it’s going to go to OKWU because of the things that they stand for.”
“When I got saved, things started changing for me,” Bryant said. That certainly included education, which until then had been a bit of a mixed bag. He hadn’t walked in his high school graduation, completing his degree the summer after. And his college experience up until that point consisted only of a year at Northeastern State University, which he said was done for the wrong reasons and which resulted in a slate of failed classes.
“Even movie appreciation,” he pointed out.
But as Bryant’s life started changing, his goals started changing, too. He first heard of OKWU on the radio, and realized that this was a school that could not only get him where he wanted to go educationally – this was a place that stood for the same spiritual values that were changing his life.
But even then, OKWU was a nebulous opportunity, at best. “I thought that would be an awesome school to go to, but I never really looked into it,” Bryant said.
That is, until he was driving one day in Tulsa and saw OKWU’s campus. He soon met with an AGS representative and explained his situation. After his application was accepted, he started taking night classes every Tuesday.
At this point in his life, Bryant was juggling a new family, two jobs, and his schoolwork at OKWU. “[I wasn’t] sure what I wanted to do,” he said, “just going because I thought it was my calling from God.”
On one otherwise average trip to Walmart, though, Bryant found himself in conversation with the store manager, who revealed that he hadn’t even graduated high school. This revelation came to David like a bolt of lightning.
“If God could do that for him, God could do that for me,” he said.
The odds, he said, were against him. 85% of management positions within the Walmart company are filled internally, and it was something of a long shot. But Bryant changed his focus at OKWU to Business Management and set out to take the Walmart management exam.
He passed. The first try.
And after trying to get in touch with the managers of various Walmarts around the area, one finally granted a meeting. “I met with him, and when I met with him he hired me on the spot,” Bryant said.
From there, it’s been a whirlwind of learning, growing, and ultimately getting promoted. David is currently being considered for a regional management promotion, and all of it happened, he says, for the glory of God and with a lot of help from OKWU.
“The way that everything happened is completely against statistics. So the only answer, to me, is God. Everything that’s happened has happened because of God.”
In fact, his ties to the university are so strong that he turned down a scholarship opportunity at the University of Tulsa, where Walmart has strong connections. “If my tuition is going to go to any school, it’s going to go to OKWU because of the things that they stand for,” he said.
And yes, there are challenges. Juggling his family, his career, and his education can be strenuous at times, but Bryant doesn’t let himself get discouraged. To him, his future is in God hands, and it’s the safest place he can be. “I want to be exactly where God wants me to be,” he said. “If we walk in the ways of God, then we really don’t have to worry about anything. Everything will be taken care of.”
For more information about OKWU’s AGS program, click here.