Stephone Cotton would be lying if he said it was easy. Cotton, a 2012 graduate of The College, said he had to overcome a number of obstacles in order to earn his business administration degree.
“There were a billion things,” said Cotton, who is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Even though his sister, Dorvonda Payne ‘12, was also attending OU, he had a difficult time with his extended family being so far away and with the new college atmosphere.
“I struggled a lot with relationships in school,” Cotton said. “And I struggled a lot with studying my first two years. It just took me a while to get my priorities in line.”
One of the “billion” things Cotton had to deal with was the news in his junior year that he was going to be a father. When his girlfriend told him she was pregnant, it changed everything he knew. “It was kind of a big deal,” he said. “I didn’t have any help [from family] while I was in school.” But Cotton said he kept going, thanks to support from friends and faculty members at Ottawa University. “The faculty that I had close encounters with really cared about the students,” he said. “They made sure I got out of there with what I needed.”
Cotton ran cross country and track his freshman year, but spent the majority of his last two years working to help pay for his son. “I was working full time my junior and senior years just to try to take care of things and still pay the bills,” he said. “Eventually, everything worked its way out.”
Thanks to connections he made while at OU, Cotton landed a finance job in Ottawa following graduation and was able to stay close to his one-year-old son. “The faculty at Ottawa really gave us the stuff we need to be marketable to a new job.”
Looking back, Cotton said he definitely learned a lot of valuable lessons and is grateful for the journey – even if it wasn’t easy. “It was a pretty good experience and I’m glad I did it,” he said.
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