Pearls & Vodka

O-U-A-C-H-I-T-A

Around 65 miles southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, sits Ouachita Baptist University.

Nestled on the Ouachita River is a 131-year-old, private, liberal arts, college located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

With an enrollment of just under 1,600 and 94% of the student body living on campus, Ouachita is more than just a college.

Ouachita sits on 85-acres with eight academic buildings and is ranked #171 in National Liberal Arts Colleges by US News and World Report. [1]

Some of the notable alumni of OBU are: the original members of the contemporary Christian pop music group, Point of Grace, Doak Campbell, a long time President of Florida State University, Linda Gamble, a pioneer in women’s basketball, Leon Green, the dean of Northwestern University’s School of Law, Cliff Harris, the former All-Pro safety for the Dallas Cowboys, Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the current White House Press Secretary, Travis Jackson, the Hall of Fame shortstop for the old New York Giants, Ed Neal, the former defensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers, Julius Pruitt, the former wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, Russ Taff, member of the Gaither Vocal Band and The Imperials, and Aaron Ward, former infielder for the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians. [1]

I had the honor, and privilege, of attending Ouachita Baptist University from 2002-2005. I am proud to say that I am a graduate of the “REAL” OBU. Folks from Oklahoma Baptist will understand that reference.

This weekend in Arkadelphia, homecoming festivities are underway.

Homecoming at OBU is a unique experience. It starts with “Tiger Tunes.” Ouachita doesn’t have national Greek affiliations. Instead, they have social clubs. Tiger Tunes is an event put on by all the clubs on campus, which includes singing and dancing and costumes and lyrics to popular songs changed to fit the theme of the individual club’s show. There are host and hostesses, and the “best band in Tiger land” performs. It’s a musical show, but it’s also a competition. The winning club wins money and bragging rights for the next year.

I thought about sharing pictures of me from the shows I was in, but luckily, I do not have any from my time as a toy soldier (the year we won Tunes as toys), or as a rabbit (the year we were a magic show).

OBU was much more than just a place that I earned my undergraduate degree.

No matter how much time has passed, when we go back to “the Delph” it still feels like home, even with all the fancy residence halls they have built since we lived in the slums of Flippin-Perrin.

There’s just something different about Ouachita. It’s not really something I can explain. But it was an incredible three years.

I left OBU with the very best memories and the most amazing group of friends.

In January of 2003, I pledged to become a member of the Women of EEE. And no EEE doesn’t stand for Sigma or Epsilon. Don’t ask. The EEEs were founded in 1925, and the meaning behind the letters has remained a secret shared amongst the members ever since. I had a bit of a rough time during pledge week, actually ending up on crutches at one point, but that week I discovered my best friends that I still have today.

When I think back on my time at OBU, so many memories come to mind: Parties at the “Pink Palace,” “The Beta House,” “The Kappa House,” “The S House,” “The Lake House,” “The Rho Sig House,” and “Club Curtis.” “The VFW,” “The Country Club,” back-roading until the wee hours of the night, putting cups in the fence for the football games before the sun came up, trips to Hot Springs, outings to New Orleans, Dallas, Eureka Springs, and San Antonio, date nights, EEE Squeeze, EEEHaw, hosting Mr. Tiger, “Find Your Sister A Mister,” being elected to Student Senate, representing the College Republicans at the 2004 debate with the Young Democrats, sitting in Chick Fil A on Tuesdays and Thursdays for hours just chatting, Buddy Pilgrim (the owner of Pilgrim’s Pride) giving everyone $20 at chapel one Tuesday, Refuge, floating the Caddo River, sinking my car in the Caddo River, houseboat parties on Lake DeGray, all night drives to Chicago, Fall Break trips to DC, Spring Break trips to Florida, the “House on Wilson Street,” getting called to Keldon’s office more times than I can count, intramural football, softball and basketball, and walking home barefoot from a party one night when we had not a care in the world.

I could go on for days about all the memories we made at Ouachita. Probably far too many that don’t need to be put out to the public. I feel like Keldon could still call me into his office about a few of them!

Ouachita became another family to us. We laughed together, we cried together, we buried loved ones together, we watched each other get married, we have celebrated having babies together, we’ve stood up for each other, we’ve set each other straight and to this day, we text each other all day, every day, no matter how much distance there is between us.

When I think back on my time at OBU, I can’t help but smile.

Would I go back to college?

Lord help me, I can’t even fathom staying up as late as we did and drinking so many nights back to back. But I don’t have to go back because Ouachita has gone with me.

I got my first job out of college because of Ouachita. I’ve been the Executive Director of a Miss Arkansas preliminary pageant because of Ouachita. I partied in New Orleans with Andy Roddick because of Ouachita. I’ve lost a car in a river because of Ouachita. And yes Mom, somewhere along the way, I learned a little because of Ouachita.

Ouachita taught me that no matter where I go in life, there is always a community for me to fall back on. It taught me that leading with integrity is always the best choice. OBU taught me that family isn’t just those you share the same DNA as. And Ouachita helped me to learn more about myself, God, friendship and a few political science theories as well.

I wouldn’t trade my days at OBU for anything.

I wouldn’t trade my friendships that I made at Ouachita for any amount of money.

I’m thankful that 12 years after graduating (how has it been that long?!?!) that I still call my friends from OBU my best friends.

In a world that seems to have gone mad, I’m so thankful that in a tiny little town called Arkadelphia, there sits a small private college that continues to change lives, 131 years later.

Ouachita, we sing thy praises
Thy beauty, thy power, they fame,
Each loyal heart upraises
A cheer to thy glorious name,
O-U-A-C-H-I-T-A
Here’s good luck to Ouachita,
May all her skies be gay,
Raise a cheer for Ouachita,
A loud Hip, Hip, Hooray,
O-U-A-C-H-I-T-A
Ouachita, thy sons and daughters
Will carry thy flag unfurled;
For none can e’er surpass thee,
The Queen of the college world,
O-U-A-C-H-I-T-A
Here’s good luck to Ouachita,
May all her skies be gay,
O-U-A-C-H-I-T-A

And, for old time’s sake… “blood makes the grass grow, E-E-E!

 

 

[1]  https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/ouachita-baptist-university-1102

 

  1. Hilary

    October 8, 2017 at 1:00 am

    Loved reminiscing through this post! So many memories!!!

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