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Breaking Down ‘Invisible Walls

Avony Green at a reception for Clara Luper and American Indian Scholars


Throughout her life, Oklahoma civil rights leader Clara Luper remained committed to bettering her community, particularly at the intersections of public service and access to education.

The Clara Luper Scholarship at OCU is awarded to first-year students from diverse backgrounds who demonstrate finan­cial need. Recipients participate in the President’s Leadership Class. Devon Energy and OG&E, as well as the university itself, support the program, which uniquely positions students to break through invisible walls as lifelong servant-leaders.

Danny Phan (BS ’13) studied finance and information tech­nology on the scholarship. Being part of the program had a dramatic effect on his life that still resonates today, he said.

“I was actually applying for a different scholarship with Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation,” Phan said. “But their board recommended I apply for the Clara Luper Scholarship, which I’m grateful for because I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to come to OCU without it.”

He spoke fondly of his time on campus, serving as president of Kappa Sigma and a member of multicultural organizations, rather than worrying about paying for school. His favorite use of free time was mentoring peers and teaching religious education classes at his local church.

“I will always associate service and leadership with OCU because that was my experience everywhere on campus,” he said. “And Clara Luper is the ultimate servant-leader to aspire to.”

Even now, he integrates his OCU experience into his life. He is a system administrator for Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores and started his own IT consulting business, Phan­tom Tech. He remembers his favorite professor, Ken Carlton, sparking his love for IT. He scored his initial internship at Love’s through a chance encounter at a holiday party for business stu­dents, which opened the door to the career he always wanted.

“OCU gave me the space to dream,” he said. “I made lifelong connections that have helped me dramatically.” Phan gives back through Bright Society, OCU’s leadership giving group, in part because of that sentiment of community. “I want to support presidential priorities and whatever the university needs, and I love to see increased enrollment because I want others to discover OCU for the treasure it is.”

Alumni and donor support helps create opportunities for current students, such as sophomore Avony Green, to find their own space to dream big.

After graduating from Piedmont High School in Oklahoma, Green wasn’t sure where she would land before being awarded the Clara Luper Scholarship, but after she toured OCU’s cam­pus, she knew she belonged. “The community on campus made me feel like part of something bigger and that I was capable of achieving greatness,” Green said. “I probably wouldn’t have been able to come to OCU without this scholarship, and the reality of that makes me so grateful and honored.”

Green also appreciated the OCU community’s positive energy that propelled her through freshman year. “I was surrounded by people who cared about me and wanted me to succeed. And my experience as a member of PLC was so fun! I loved doing service work and made lifelong friends that I wouldn’t have crossed paths with had the program not existed.”

Green continues serving the OCU community through organi­zations such as Blue Goes Green and OCU’s recently reinstated chapter of the NAACP. She hopes to get her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and go on to a career in organizational psychology. “I want to teach adults how to use mentally healthy habits and start a wave of being kinder to ourselves in our own minds.”

Clara Luper’s legacy lives on through OCU’s mission to fos­ter a diverse, inclusive culture with local and global impact, and through the many students who have realized their own potential for greatness through her namesake scholarship.

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