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As Ada High School seniors gathered one last time in the Ada Cougar Activity Center to celebrate graduating, the students had no idea a life-changing opportunity would be offered.

East Central University President Wendell Godwin was the keynote speaker. In his speech, he offered advice for the graduates, how to succeed, and how to get there from here.

“It was an honor to do the commencement address at the Ada High School graduation,” Godwin said.

During his address, he offered the graduates an opportunity to earn a $10,000 scholarship to ECU. The students simply needed create a video of why they needed the scholarship, post it to social media accounts tagging the University, and identify themselves.

The winner was announced a week later.

“I was taking a nap,” Ada High School graduate Gentry Brown said. “My friend texted me and told me I won. I asked, ‘Won what?’ He sent me the video and I thought I was still dreaming.

Godwin presented Gentry with a giant check for the scholarship. Her parents, Doug and Stephanie Brown, were present for the celebration.

“We are here to help Gentry succeed and are very excited to extend this scholarship to her,” Godwin said. “We are very happy for her and her family.”

Gentry wants to major in biology and become a veterinarian.

“I’ve wanted to become a veterinarian since I was a kid,” she said, and wanted to come to ECU, even without the scholarship. She will also be the first in her family to attend college.

Stephanie said she and her husband were junior high sweethearts. Doug traveled for many years in the oilfield to provide for his family before moving to Ada from Bastrop, Louisiana, five years ago.

“This scholarship makes it a lot easier,” Doug said. “I told her we would do whatever it took to find grants and scholarships for her, and this is an answer to that.”

“I feel like she’s going to be taken care of,” Stephanie said. “It’s a weight off our shoulders.”

The $10,000 scholarship will be spread out over the time Gentry attends ECU and applied as it’s needed, whether it be tuition, housing, or books.

Gentry and her parents met with Godwin and they were able to discuss various opportunities and programs available for her at ECU, such as the President’s Leadership Class.

Classes begin Aug. 15. For more information or to apply to ECU, visit

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