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The value of an education at East Central University can have far-reaching effects, and for Josie Hammock, her pursuit of a degree has been and will relatively be debt free.

A professional career awaits Josie Hammock, once she graduates with her business administration degree this May. With hard work, applying for scholarships and efficient financial planning from her family, Hammock is also expected to graduate with little debt.

Hammock is not alone. Many ECU students graduate with little or no debt. According to a report made by ECU for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the percentage of students at the university who graduate with student loan debt is among the lowest in the state at 57.5 percent for undergraduates and 57.7 for graduate students.

How is Hammock doing it while maintaining minimal debt?

First of all, Hammock took concurrent college courses while attending Berryhill High School. She then took advantage of a program called “Tulsa Achieves” and applied for numerous scholarships which has helped set Hammock on track for graduation and without the major headaches of debt.

“First, I took 12 hours of college credit while I was in high school,” Hammock said. “If a student is doing concurrent enrollment (high school and college classes at the same time), all tuition is paid for the students. This left my family and I with about $100 in fees for each semester.”

Upon graduation from Berryhill in 2014, Hammock was able to take advantage of “Tulsa Achieves,” a program through Tulsa Community College, in which tuition and fees are paid for all freshmen and sophomores.

“There are stipulations. For instance, the student must live in Tulsa County,” said Hammock. “Their parents must have paid Tulsa County taxes for the two years prior to enrolling at TCC and the student must go straight from high school to TCC and must keep a certain GPA. Finally, the student must complete a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer work per semester.”

In addition to receiving the Bass Family Scholarship of $500, Hammock ultimately received her associate’s degree in business administration from TCC in the fall of 2015, after attending there from the summer of 2014 through the summer of 2015.

“The Tulsa Achieves program covered all tuition and fees for me,” Hammock said.

During her time at TCC, she spent the summers as a lifeguard and the fall and spring semesters working as an office clerk in the TCC Fitness Center.

In transferring to ECU, Hammock started in the summer of 2015 and received a Transfer Level One Scholarship of $1,600 over four semesters (fall/spring only) and was able to receive work study help. Through that she worked at the ECU (Computer) Help Desk to not only earn some money, but get some valuable on-the-job training and experience.

“My education at ECU helped prepare me for my interview for my internship with LegalShield,” said Hammock. “The classes I took better prepared me for the daily tasks and challenges I would face in a business environment. I could handle the tasks set before me in a professional manner. I was able to take on the challenges I faced which made me stand out.”

In addition to the work study, Hammock received the ECU Women’s Club Scholarship of $250 for the fall semester only and obtained the O.J. “Barney” Limes Scholarship of $1,000 split over the fall and spring semester.

“I also received work study and worked as a tutor for the Fall 2016 Semester,” Hammock said.

Additionally, some tuition and miscellaneous fees were split three ways between her and her parents and her parents paid for her books.

Through her diligence, Hammock will not only achieve her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management information systems, she will have also obtained two certificates in M.I.S. and in banking and financing.

Of course her internship with LegalShield in Ada last summer, has set her up for a fulltime career there once she graduates.

“My strong work ethic and ability to learn quickly were some of the reasons I was hired on after my internship,” Hammock said. “But I was also hired on because of what I had already learned from ECU and what I was going to learn in my upcoming classes.”

Among the things in which Hammock have learned at ECU are valuable interviewing skills in which she has used three times; valuable test-taking skills which are used in the world of technology to get and maintain certificates need for the job; and professional presentations, individually and as a group, in which she has already used and has learned how to maintain a professional attitude.

Hammock is pleased that the courses she has taken through the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business has prepared her for a career.

“My impression is it is a prestigious school with tough but exceptional reputation. Going into my first year at ECU, I hadn’t heard much about the ECU School of Business, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Hammock. “I discovered how highly regarded the school was and just how difficult the classes would be. I never expected to learn as much as I have over the last two years.”


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