OKWU graduates are making a Kingdom impact worldwide through work in missions, media, politics, and the medical field.
But the local impact Eagles are making here in Bartlesville is just as crucial to the university’s mission—to advance the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. And Brittany Shoemake has dedicated her time to giving back to Bartlesville.
Shoemake grew up in Junction City, Kansas, and says that OKWU was always in the cards for her due to her family connections. Her parents met on campus, and her older sister had already attended. “I honestly didn’t even consider other options,” she said.
When she first arrived on campus, Brittany worked as a Nursing major, but quickly realized that it wasn’t a good fit. She switched to Financial Economics, with a minor in Accounting, and immediately found her niche. “I had taken accounting in high school and loved it,” Brittany said. “I don’t know why I didn’t consider that as a career option [at first].”
Shoemake credits her time within the business department as a pivotal professional confidence-builder—mostly through the presentations she was often required to give. “It seemed like once a week I was up in front of a group of people, presenting,” she said. “That helped me find my voice and gain confidence.”
With previous college credits that she brought in with her as a freshman, Shoemake graduated in 2013 after only three years. She took a job in the accounting department of Phillips 66 in Bartlesville a month after graduation. All told, she was there for six years. Over that time, what sticks out most is the broad experience that she could accrue within the company. At various times, her duties included accounting, working on a major company project, supervising teams, and financial analysis, which allowed her to sharpen her skills in various professional disciplines.
In July of 2019, Brittany gave birth to her first child, Beau, and decided to stay home in October of that year. She and her husband, Bret, are also expecting a baby girl in February.
“It goes so fast. Never in your life will you have the kind of freedom you have in college. Just enjoy it.”
Her role as a full-time mother has allowed Shoemake to take on an additional leadership role as Chair of the Bartlesville Community Foundation board. She first joined the board in 2015 and has since served in various roles—leading scholarship and grant committees, serving as secretary, and serving as vice-Chair. These experiences allowed her to transition seamlessly to the position of Chair, with duties including oversight of the organization’s staff goals, supporting events, and generally just advocating for their work in the community.
Shoemake is quick to point to the philanthropic work the foundation does as a vital perk of the job: they put over a million dollars back into the local Bartlesville community last year alone. “Just being a part of that, and seeing how many people have been able to meet their philanthropic goals through the foundation, is really incredible,” she said.
In addition to her work with BCF, Shoemake sits on the board for the Boys and Girls Club of Bartlesville, whose work she is also passionate about. “It’s a phenomenal organization,” she said. “They’re just fantastic.”
Though OKWU prepared Shoemake to succeed in the world of business, she says that it’s not the academic impact she remembers most—it’s the friends and memories she made along the way. “I was very studious, and I spent a lot of time in my studies, reading and working,” she said. “[But] it goes so fast. Never in your life will you have the kind of freedom you have in college. Just enjoy it.”