|Dean Donna Burgraff and OU-C students discuss Appalachain culture.|
As a native of Appalachia who utilized education as a pathway to opportunity, Dean Burgraff had first-hand experience to share with the students. The dean emphasized the importance of individuals from Appalachia pursuing their ambitions while also embracing their heritage.
“It is the people who make this such a wonderful region. They know the importance of good friends and strong families, and those are qualities I have taken with me wherever I have gone. No matter how far I may have traveled from home, Appalachia is a part of me,” said Burgraff, who grew up in the Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky area.
Students in the class discussed some of the stereotypes placed on Appalachian residents, the challenges that some individuals face in expanding their horizons and the virtues that are especially strong in Appalachia.
“I greatly enjoyed talking with OU-C students, sharing my experiences and learning from their insights. As I have often said, seeing students learn and succeed is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job and why I enjoy higher education,” Burgraff said. “I appreciate Dr. Scott giving me this opportunity.”
Her visit was valued by those in the class including the faculty member.
“After reading Dean Burgraff's letter to the campus upon her first day on the job, I realized that she would be someone who could share her story about her upbringing in Appalachia. We discuss in my SOC 329: Race and Ethnic Relations course Appalachian culture, including the apparent notion of (higher) education not being as valued as it is in other regions of the count ry. With Dr. Burgraff's educational experiences, I asked if she would be willing to share her thoughts on her academic journey in contrast to this notion. She obliged, and the students and I enjoyed her visit and presentation to the class,” Scott said.
“It excites me to find administrators who are willing to take the time to come to classes and share their expertise and experiences. The students and I are very appreciative and impressed by this. My students stated that it is nice to have a dean who is personable and willing to interact with them. Speaking with Dr. Burgraff after her class visit, she expressed how much she enjoyed her visit hoping to have more such opportunities. I will certainly be inclined for her to visit my class again.”