Mary Clancy: With degree in hand, I am staying in Tulsa

Thank you, George Kaiser.

I spent part of my Wednesday evening running. I started at 15th Street and Riverside Drive and made my way to 41st Street, turned around, and headed back to my car. Half-way through the Gathering Place, I made a right turn and added a mile to my loop.

I went an extra mile because I wanted to experience the park again.

My family moved to Tulsa in 2001. I was 8 and quickly developed a deep affection for my new hometown. So much so that I layered on the twang when we would visit our cousins in Iowa. I’m still not sure if they believed my heavy new accent was authentic.

I had opportunities to experience the best in Tulsa. We took family bike rides through River Parks on Saturdays, went to Utica Square concerts on Thursdays and experienced kindness consistently from our friends and neighbors.

Downtown Tulsa skyline aerial riverAt the dinner table, my dad told me about progress being made to make Tulsa a better, healthier, safer city for all people. I met brilliant minds and generous hearts who were dedicated to making Tulsa shine a little brighter. I went to Booker T. Washington High School and saw how our differences make us stronger. I carried these experiences and perspectives with me to college. When I graduated, I decided to continue my education at The University of Tulsa but was certain that I would move on to Boston or San Diego when I completed my degree.

Four months after graduating with my master’s degree, I have never felt so connected and in love with this city. So much of my time here, especially over the past two years, has been marked by the generosity of George Kaiser.

I’ve seen women conquer addiction and their children thrive in early intervention programs with the help of George Kaiser Family Foundation’s funding, staff and support.

I’ve seen downtown grow and modernize, attracting friends from different states and cities to develop roots here.

Gathering Place Tulsa parkAnd over this past week, I’ve seen the entire community gather to enjoy excellent weather, play, exercise and marvel at our new gift.

So, thank you, George and GKFF, for going the extra mile for our city. You are making Tulsa better. I don’t see myself leaving any time soon.

Mary Clancy, 24, lives in Tulsa and earned a master’s degree in speech pathology from The University of Tulsa in 2018. This column was originally printed in the Tulsa World newspaper on Sept. 14, 2018.