As a military wife and mother, Jennifer Wynne was used to giving. Advice, time, love and support were just some of the things she gave to family and friends on a daily basis, in addition to enduring a loved one’s long deployment. But after finishing her undergraduate degree she was ready for some recognition of her own.
“I’ve spent countless hours volunteering through our children’s extracurricular activities as well as at OU and with military families and really felt it was time for me to have some recognition,” she said. “This is the second time in more than 20 years that I have been recognized with an honor.”
It did not take long for the Outstanding Senior committee to see the high standards Wynne set for herself. In addition to making the PACS Dean’s List and OU President’s Honor Roll for high academic achievement, Wynne received the Honorable Order of Molly Pitcher Award by the Oklahoma National Guard in 2014, recognizing the significant improvement her voluntary contributions have made for the U.S. Field Artillery Community.
“The award is named after Molly Pitcher, who distinguished herself during the American Revolutionary War. I have supported my husband through many military campaigns for the last 20 years, and I was very honored and humbled to receive that award. It was a huge accomplishment,” Wynne said.
While Wynne’s external support of the armed forces is impressive, it may seem small when compared to her internal drive to overcome challenges and reach her academic goals. Her journey was long and difficult but she feels it was worth it.
“I started my academic career in the College of Architecture’s Interior Design program. A semester into the program, I realized that with my husband deployed to Afghanistan and being a full-time ‘single’ parent to our children, the interior design program would not work with my schedule. I had heard of the Administrative Leadership degree from my husband and so I decided it would be a great fit for our family and me, as I needed to be more available to our children during this time.”
Unfortunately, finances were also an issue but, luckily, PACS proved to be a good fit in more than just academics.
“I was originally accepted into a state program, but because of our income level I no longer qualified for those funds. This was a huge setback and I thought I would have to take out loans. I am very fortunate to have received references from my professors that helped me receive scholarships at OU specifically through the PACS program,” Wynne said.
Even with financing secured and degree program chosen, it was no easy task completing classwork while balancing home life. Wynne constantly strived to maintain normalcy for her family while her spouse was deployed.
“During my first year at OU, I had multiple studio projects in Interior Design that required overnight work. I would stay up all night and go to classes all day, scheduling pick up and drop off times for children, daycare and volunteering in all of our children’s events,” she said, recounting her exhausting first year at OU. “This was a huge change for our family, not having my husband home for a year while I was juggling a full-time schedule and full-time children.”
In true Molly Pitcher fashion, Wynne would not give up that difficult first year of struggle that helped define her and lead her to a very special day.
“I do not regret a minute of it and know that it is that type of experience that makes me stronger. It set the tone for my vigilance in completing my degree in Administrative Leadership along with a minor in Interior Design,” she said.
A Day to Remember
Wynne remembers the day she received her award as a truly special one.
“Our son flew in and my mother and sister surprised me by showing up a few hours before the event,” she said. “My husband was being promoted in the military, but his unit was able to reschedule his promotion so that he could attend my event, too. I was super excited to receive the award and it meant the world to me having family there who have supported me throughout my college years. My mother and now-deceased father have financed a lot of my education, so having Mom there was extra special, and having my son and husband with me too was the icing on the cake.”
Note: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.