Kedrick Nettleton, Staff Writer

What are you thankful for this year?

You hear it often these days, but we can’t overstate it: it’s been a strange year here at OKWU. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve changed how we do things, masking up and keeping our distance to stay safe.

But there’s still plenty to be thankful for! OKWU has experienced the blessings of the Lord this year. Students are experiencing the transformative power of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Lives are being changed. All praise is due to God for His care and blessings.

So this week, as we prepare to gather and give thanks, we asked some people around the OKWU community what they’re thankful for. Here’s what they said:


“I am grateful for OKWU students, who have demonstrated perseverance and resilience through this difficult year. It is a blessing to serve them!” 

– Jana Russell, Academic Advisor for GPS

Jana Russell
Jason Flick

“I’m thankful for the fact that we were able to have in-person class this fall, even though we were masked up and I have no idea who any of my students are! Truthfully though, I am thankful for OKWU leadership and the cooperation of students to follow the guidelines to keep us in the classrooms for the best possible experience.”

– Jason Flick, Director of Secondary Clinical Experiences; Instructor of Education

“I am thankful that through this year we have not lost our sense of community. Even with masks, we have been able to share laughs and memories. We have been able to help each other through difficult times. I am thankful that no matter what our school goes through, we always look ahead to what God has in store for us.”

– Natalie Church, Campus Care Coordinator

Nat Church
Anna Mangimela

“I am grateful for the little things. The occasional smile as someone adjusts their masks, laughter that can’t be contained, someone saying “hi” because they are genuinely glad to see me even if we are six feet apart, the notes of encouragement stuck under my door or sent in a text, and mostly the people who have stopped to actually listen. I am thankful to work for an organization that values people and prayer. The ability to stop and pour my heart out to God, either quietly or out loud, has kept me going. I am incredibly grateful for each of my colleagues in the School of Nursing who have listened, brainstormed, rallied together, and gone the extra mile to give our very best to our students in a semester where it would be easier to give up and walk away. These ladies are willing to jump on board with crazy ideas, hang balloon arches, and have a random taco day just because we all need a little joy. I’m grateful that there has been grace in friendships and healing in just being together, even in the midst of the storm.” 

– Anna Mangimela, Professor of Nursing

“This year, I’m most thankful for the people of OKWU and their warm and welcoming hospitality. I have been on the team here for just over six months, after moving across the country during a pandemic, and this place feels like home, largely because of the people. For that, I am deeply grateful.”

 Torrey Martin, Admissions Coordinator

Torrey Martin
Dr. Jim Dunn

I am thankful for the students, faculty, and staff of OKWU, who are optimistic about the future. It seems that all of us would like to put 2020 in our rear-view mirror. (By the way, is this what the phrase, “hindsight is 2020″ was originally intended to mean?) Seriously, there are valuable lessons that all of us have learned this year that include our academic journey. We have learned that God has compassion for every person because we are all made in the image of God. We have learned the value of personal relationships – both with God and with family and friends, even if they did not vote or vote for the right person. We have learned how to help and protect the well-being of our neighbors by simply wearing a mask. I’m grateful for these lessons and the hope we all can have in Jesus Christ who holds today, as well as every tomorrow ahead.”

– President Jim Dunn

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