Oct 27, 2023
By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
The front and back doors of the old president’s house provide easy access to students who come by whenever they need.
Sitting at the end of a one-lane road behind the baseball stadium’s right field on the Grayson College campus in Denison, the old president’s house is a home base where students can apply for scholarships through the Grayson College Foundation. The students can even use the kitchen to cook a meal—something special for foreign students who want to prepare traditional dishes from their homeland.
“There’s only one rule,” says Randy Truxal, Executive Director of the Grayson College Foundation. “You’ve got to leave the kitchen as nice as you found it. If you don’t, then my Dad-mode will kick in.”
Randy also enacts Dad-mode to help students in their academic choices. He wants to equip them in every way possible to see them succeed.
“We have students that come in on the vocational side, and the majority of those students stay in Texoma-land,” he says. “Students that move on to a university and complete their 4-year degree also return to work here. Of our graduating students, about 60-70% of them return or stay in Texoma-land.”
The Grayson College Foundation was created to facilitate scholarship funding to alleviate the financial burden on students. This is especially the case for nursing students.
“Hospitals in Texoma are growing and they need nurses,” Randy says. “RNs, BSNs, LVNs. Those are the three classifications of nurses we’re producing in great numbers. They are highly sought after because our nursing program is outstanding. But to get their clinicals done, they often have to cut back on their full-time job. A scholarship helps them a great deal.”
In 2007, there were enough scholarships for nursing students, but lack of faculty and space created a long waiting list of students trying to enter the college’s nursing program. Strategy meetings with the Texoma Health Foundation and the college led to THF funding new faculty positions. The group also added priority for local students to enter the program and THF has seen these numbers and percentages increase dramatically.
Covering the cost of faculty remained a consistent piece of THF’s grants to the college, and the foundation would later fund additional projects including investment in a new BSN program and state-of-the-art training mannequins.
“The mannequins react as a human would,” Randy says. “They bleed, they say ‘ouch,’ they regurgitate. It’s the next best thing to working on a human being. With funding through THF, we’ve been able to keep them updated and upgraded. That is indispensable to our nursing faculty.”
In addition to supporting Grayson College through grantmaking, THF’s Texoma Giving Partners provides scholarships for the newly expanded classrooms. The Roberta Pond, Jaqueline Vandiver Chesser, and Dr. Max & Shirley Cham funds have all helped cover the cost for local students to obtain healthcare degrees and certificates at Grayson College.
Randy’s goal is to continue growing the Grayson College Foundation’s endowment to match the growing needs of students. His Dad-mode is always on to reach the goal of someday funding every scholarship request.
Students who come into the old president’s house can sit down with a Grayson College Foundation staff member who will help them fill out their application, answer questions, and show them around the kitchen. The refrigerator is stocked with bottled water, and there are snacks on the counter.
Randy says, “We live to support the students, staff, and faculty of Grayson College.”