Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

11 graduate from OCU School of Religion


From left, the Class of 2015: Will Lugar, Katie Hirsch, Leigh Smith, Matt Patrick, Grace Karber, Thad Ernst, Hope Lairson, Samantha Erickson, Hannah Frye, and Caitie Gassner. Not shown: Matthew Hewes.

OCU’s Wimberly School of Religion celebrates the May graduation of 11 students who majored in Religion. We rejoice for the accomplishments of these fine young people and commend them on their continued journeys.

FRYE — Hannah Frye will enter the Counseling Psychology graduate program at the University of Central Oklahoma this fall. She will continue working as director of Youth Ministries at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Norman. "Preaching at the Chapel service as a senior was one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had at OCU," Hannah wrote. "All of my professors and mentors were there to support and encourage me. I would not be the person I am today without the education and guidance the Wimberly School of Religion has given me."

LAIRSON — During her sophomore year, Hope Lairson started working at Western Oaks Christian Church as a youth intern. She will continue there as director of Youth Ministries. Hope said she is blessed to have been a part of the OCU community. "These individuals are not only my professors but (also) my mentors," she said. "They truly care about their students. They inspire me to take care of others as they have taken care of me." Studying in Amsterdam one summer also taught her a lot about herself and the world, she added.

LUGAR — Will Lugar plans to spend a year reading and writing, and then he will explore graduate programs in ethical philosophy. He voiced special appreciation for the many hours that Dr. John Starkey spent talking with him and sharing viewpoints.

HEWES — Matthew Hewes will continue his studies at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU, pursuing a Master of Divinity degree as well as ordination as a United Methodist Elder. Among his college experiences, the one with the most profound impact on Matthew was the New Testament Greek class with Dr. Sharon Betsworth.

ERNST — Thad Ernst is moving to Cordova, Tenn., just east of Memphis, to be the youth minister at Covenant United Methodist Church. He spoke highly of Dr. Leslie Long for her constant support.

GASSNER — Caitie Gassner plans to attend Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., then return to serve in the Oklahoma Conference. Caitie enjoyed the "Methods of Biblical Analysis" class, where she learned the similarities and differences among the Gospels.

ERICKSON — Samantha Erickson will take a year off from school, with plans to enter a physical therapy degree program in 2016.

SMITH — After participating in the World University Games this summer, Leigh Smith will continue her studies at OCU, working on two minor degrees while competing on the OCU women’s rowing team.

KARBER — Grace Karber will fill a leadership position at a summer camp, then seek employment as a director of Youth Ministries at a local church.

HIRSCH — Katie Hirsch is taking a year off before beginning graduate school.

PATRICK — Matthew Patrick will attend Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. He was named one of the seminary’s inaugural Saint Paul Fellows. As part of the Fellows Program, Matthew has been appointed as a local pastor to OKC-Nichols Hills UMC. 


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