'Rangers always lead the way'
May 7, 2023
Under cloudless blue skies, family members and friends gathered Saturday morning to watch graduates receive their degrees from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva. The mild 80 degree temperature and light Oklahoma breeze, generally defined as anything less than 20 mph, were perfect for the outdoor ceremony at Ranger Field.
NWOSU President Dr. Bo Hannaford greeted graduates in the 124th annual spring commencement. He quoted motivational speaker Jim Rohn who said, "Discipline is a bridge between goals and accomplishments."
"Today you've turned one of your goals into a great accomplishment," Hannaford said. "Don't stop here. Continue to learn and grow and watch your successes come to realization. I know each of you will go on to do great things in your life."
He asked the graduates to remember:
• "Rangers always lead the way. Don't ever be afraid to accept that responsibility in your lives."
• "We never back down from challenges. You'll have difficult times during your life and career, but Rangers will always be there to get the job done."
• "Always be there for one another. Rangers look out for each other. Please know that your family here at Northwestern will always be here to support you in your pursuit of your goals."
Speaker Rex Trent
Hannaford introduced the guest speaker, Northwestern alumnus Rex Trent, superintendent of the Binger-Oney Public Schools. "He is a Ranger through and through," Hannaford said.
"Forty-two years ago, I sat where you're sitting," Trent told the graduates. "I knew on that day the commencement speaker was not the most important part of the day. And I can guarantee you that is true today also. You graduates, and your family, this is the most important part of the day."
He told them they will be surprised as they go out into the world. "All across the state of Oklahoma there are Rangers. I've left the state of Oklahoma and run into people that graduated from Northwestern. This is a unique and wonderful university. My times here will never be forgotten."
Trent was a student at NWOSU from 1977 to 1981, receiving a bachelor's degree in history. He returned to Northwestern from 1982 to 1984 to earn his master's degree in education while serving as a dorm parent to the young men of Ament Hall and working as a coach.
After marrying and having his first child, in 1984 he began teaching history and coaching in the Alva Public Schools.
Trent said, "My first day in my Oklahoma history class, taking roll, getting introduced to the kids, I look around at a bright bunch of boys and girls, men and women, that were just starting their high school career. On the front row, there was one particular person, for whatever reason, stood out just a little bit more. You can't have favorites when you're teaching, but this young man carried himself well. He always said, 'Yes, sir. No, sir,' And ended up he was an A student, and was very, very popular in his high school.
"And who would have thought, on that particular day, me in my first public teaching job, on the front row of my ninth grade class, would be the future president of Northwestern State University. His name was Bo Hannaford, Dr. Derek 'Bo' Hannaford. Dr. Hannaford and I have been friends from that day on."
Trent offered three bits of wisdom to the graduates:
• "If you do choose to get married, try not to get divorced because it costs a lot of money and there's a lot of hardship."
• "If you have road rage, eliminate that from your life because in the grand scheme of things, it's not worth it."
• "And please do one thing for me. Love people. There are so many different people in this stadium today, and we all deserve love. If you will love people to the best of your ability, and unfortunately there are bad people out there so be guarded, it will get you a long way in this life.
"I'm going to end with Ride, Rangers, Ride! Love you, guys."