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Miss OCU Evelyn Smith hopes to emulate donors who supported her

Community beckoned Evelyn Smith into Oklahoma City University after scholarships opened the door.

“When I was on (my campus) tour, my tour guide was waving at every third person we saw,” Smith said. “I swore they had planted those people there. But after my freshman year, I realized that seniors would come up to you and call you out by name. They would ask you how your class is going and say. ‘Hey Evelyn, how’s that biology class? I know you’re struggling with it. Let me know if you need notes.’ So community is the reason I stayed. And I think that’s what’s really important. Year after year, I get excited after the summer to come back and be with my community.”

Smith, a political science, philosophy, and studio art senior, said she considered her first semester at OCU “rough.” She jumped in with both feet, joining the pom team, five clubs, and a dance showcase.

“It was the first time in my life that I got to choose," she said. "I had to learn how to say, ‘Yes,’ to the right things.”

She started looking into law school but needed more scholarships.

“I had to realize I was doing a lot of things and I wasn’t doing them well,” she said. “The true selfish thing is trying to be a part of everything instead of stepping back and choosing your heart work and the best version of yourself.”

During Smith’s second semester, COVID hit. By her second and third year at OCU, though, she proved to herself that she was more than capable.

“I really love the small class sizes," she said. "It’s really helpful to develop community — you can’t just keep your head down.”

Despite an adult diagnosis of ADHD, she started making almost all A’s. She considers her greatest victory at OCU her academic growth.

“Something I really appreciate about the Department of Political Science is they challenge you to show up every day and be better than you were before," she said.

In October, Smith won the Miss OCU pageant, having already notched Miss Oklahoma’s Outstanding Teen and landed fourth runner-up in Miss Oklahoma. Pageants gave Smith and her three sisters a platform to practice the values their single mother had always encouraged.

“If your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough,” her mom taught. “Everything you need to succeed is already inside you.”

Smith recently graduated, and plans to take a gap year, attend law school, and pursue a career in international law, perhaps in Italy. She sees herself as an advocate for civil rights.

After seeing one of her sisters navigate high college costs, starting her adult life financially stable was incredibly important to her. Smith feels thankful for the scholarships she has received and the donors behind them.

“(Donors) have deeply impacted my story and many other students," she said. "I can’t wait to grow up and be the type of person that (they've) been for me and inspire other stories.”

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