RSU Foundation Hosts Pryor Scholarship Fundraising Breakfast

group of students posing for photo

RSU Pryor Breakfast Scholarship recipients included Leann Howell of Chouteau (front, from left) and MacKenzie Brock of Pryor, Ashley Elliott of Big Cabin (back, from left), Bailie Binder of Locust Grove, Tate Baumert of Pryor, and James Strickland of Salina. Scholarship recipients not pictured include Seth Hobbs of Pryor, Tyler Duncan of Adair and Kelsey Collins of Pryor.


Businesses and individuals from the Claremore, Pryor, Rogers and Mayes County areas met with the RSU Foundation Board of Directors Sept. 20 at the RSU MidAmerica Industrial Park Expo Center for breakfast at an event that benefited the education of area students.

The RSU Pryor Scholarship Fundraising Breakfast is an annual fundraiser that provides scholarships for students attending RSU Pryor, as well as those from Mayes County who attend Rogers State University in Claremore.

Among the guest speakers in attendance was RSU President Dr. Larry Rice.

“There are several students in the room this morning – that’s why we’re here – to showcase these fine students and show you where your sponsorships are going,” Rice said. “Without the support of each person in this room, we couldn’t do what we do, and we appreciate that more and more every day.”

Rice then recognized the various sponsors, the RSU Board of Directors, representatives from the city of Pryor, Pryor Public Schools, RSU Pryor and Claremore, many of the scholarship recipients themselves, and RSU Senior Director of Development Tonni Harrald.

“This is an important event for Rogers State. It’s important to our students that are here, it’s important to our faculty and staff, and I take personal pride in knowing that what we’re doing here is going to make a difference in the lives of our students,” Harrald said. “The scholarship funds we raise can mean the difference between whether or not a student will be able to enroll, continue and finish their degree.”

Harrald was followed by scholarship recipient and student speaker Bailie Binder of Locust Grove.

“When they asked me to speak, they asked me to talk about some of the things that have kept me driven to get my education, and there were two major things that came to mind. One was safety and the other was stability,” she said. “I grew up in an environment where I didn’t always feel safe. My parents made some unfortunate choices, which ended up affecting my siblings and me.

“I knew from a very young age that was not the kind of environment I wanted to continue to have and not what I wanted to grow up in,” she said. “When I had my daughter, I felt that it was the time for me to make the choices for a better life ring true.

“After taking a year off, I returned (to RSU), coming back online, and the amount of help I got from my professors and everyone from Rogers State was outstanding,” she said. “I was very worried about what it would be like coming back with a (then) one-year-old, and it was the best choice I ever made. I love the career I’m going into. I started taking classes for my major – community counseling – this year, and it just solidified to me that I’m doing what I’m supposed to.”

Binder said the opportunity to study at RSU gave her the stability that she had so long desired.

“Thanks to RSU, I’m a much more structured person now and I want my daughter to have that same environment as she grows up,” she said. “Despite the obstacles I’ve faced, I’ve had a lot of people in my corner who kept me going. Without the support of so many people, without the generosity of the donors to help me go to school and get my education – which is what my success is going to be built on – I wouldn’t be able to do it. I cannot express in words how grateful I am for that.”

In addition to Binder, 2022-23 scholarship recipients recognized during the event include Tate Baumert of Pryor, James Strickland of Salina, Seth Hobbs of Pryor, Tyler Duncan of Adair, MacKenzie Brock of Pryor, Ashley Elliott of Big Cabin, Leann Howell of Chouteau and Kelsey Collins of Pryor.

The RSU Foundation’s next event will be the annual Scholarship and Auction Dinner Nov. 17 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa.

For more information about the upcoming Scholarship Dinner and Auction, contact Tonni Harrald at [email protected] or 918-343-7767.