“At the end of your life how do you want to be remembered? I would like people think I’m funny, but I can’t control that. I also want them to think my life made a difference.” For over thirty years at Oklahoma City Community College, in a number of capacities including Dean for Students and Vice-President, Marion Paden felt certain she made a difference. “OCC is the fifth largest college in Oklahoma. It provides college experience and education for students who cannot access our residential universities.”
Two years ago Marion decided to branch in a new direction. She became Director of Leadership Oklahoma, an education and community service organization that provides training sessions to emerging leaders about the critical issues facing the state, including agriculture, government, penal system, oil and gas, education, Native Americans, and transportation. Each year fifty individuals participate in immersive experiences such as visiting death row inmates and observing petroleum fields to witness first hand the factors that shape life in Oklahoma. Upon graduation, they join the growing ranks of fellow participants who, hopefully, have a broad perspective of the issues that face this state.
Marion is excited about the educational sessions she’s developed, but wants to increase graduates’ activities and reach. “My slogan is ‘other ways work.’ We have to figure out what they are and try them out.” From Marion’s perspective, the value of Leadership Oklahoma is more than what the program participants receive; it’s what they give back in return.
How will we live tomorrow?
“I hoped you had the answer for me. I am frightened. It is the work I am doing and it keeps me up at night. The trajectory we are on is not a good one. I am a glass half-full kind of girl but now I am looking at empty.”