Rhonda Pruett is hoping to turn a heartbreaking situation into an exciting one as she prepares to attend East Central University this spring.
Pruett, a non-traditional student, resident of Lexington, Oklahoma and an elementary special education teacher for the Bethel Schools in the Shawnee area, was working hard on a master’s of counseling degree at St. Gregory’s University when she was blindsided by some awful news on Nov. 8.
SGU announced its closure effective in December, which caught Pruett and many of the nearly 600 students off guard. The university, which relied on a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, was unable to obtain those funds, thus forcing the near immediate closing.
When she learned about the SGU closing, Pruett and her husband took to the internet and printed off material from other universities.
“ECU most closely matched with what I’ve been involved in,” said Pruett, who said she contacted ECU and Dr. Brenda Sherbourne, acting dean of the School of Graduate Studies and dean of the College of Education and Psychology.
ECU, like many universities and colleges from around the state and region, took part in several college fairs held on the SGU campus.
After meeting up with Sherbourne and the ECU contingent during the first fair, Pruett says she felt pretty good about the prospect of coming to Ada to further her education.
Then came a second fair a few days later and, as the participating universities were setting up for the fair, Jenny Campbell, an advisor in the ECU School of Graduate Studies, noticed Pruett and approached her.
“She came and found me. That made me feel really good,” Pruett said. “From there, I knew this is where I needed to go. I started getting emotional and felt pretty good about ECU. I felt like I made the right choice.”
Pruett will be able to go through a teach-out plan, do some online course work and take one-weekend-a-month, all-day classes in helping to achieve her degree.
“I loved St. Gregory’s. They had some of the best people,” said Pruett. “When it closed, it was very disheartening. I get emotional thinking about it.”
Pruett and her husband came to Oklahoma years ago from Missouri and stumbled on to St. Gregory’s by accident.
“We went to the (Mabee-Gerrer) museum there. I didn’t even know there was a college there. We then walked around campus and found the people to be very kind and considerate,” Pruett said. “We felt very good about it.”
NOTE: ECU is still accepting transfers from SGU. Transfers may be eligible for a $1,000 scholarship for the spring 2018 semester. For more information on the scholarships, contact the ECU Foundation, Inc. at 580-559-5655. For more information on applying to ECU, call the Office of Admissions at 580-559-5628.