September 22, 2005
Campus involvement important to Cowley Student of Month
Some Cowley College students choose to live off campus their sophomore year after living in the dorms as freshmen.
Rusty Wallace did just the opposite.
Since the Enid, Okla., sophomore knew he wanted to become more involved in campus life, he decided to leave the apartment he enjoyed as a freshman and move to the D. Robert Storbeck Dormitory this year. It’s a move that already has paid off.
Wallace (no, he’s not named after racecar driver Rusty Wallace), the son of Clarence and Pat Wallace, has been named Cowley’s September Student of the Month. Wallace, 21, has two sisters, Ginger 25 and April 18. Grandparents are Russell and Dorothy Graesch of Ponca City.
Being involved on campus is important to Wallace. He is president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Government Association secretary, co-treasurer of the International Student Club, is a Student Ambassador, and is a member of the Math & Science Club and the Young Republicans.
“It’s been a wonderful experience at Cowley,” said Wallace, a non-destructive testing major. “Every day is something new. The more you get involved, the more you experience about Cowley. I haven’t had a bad experience yet. I’ve always been able to find something positive.”
As a senior at Enid High School, Wallace wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so he began taking welding classes at Autry Technology Center in Enid. While on his way to receiving a vocational certificate in welding, his Autry instructor told Wallace about Cowley.
“He told me about Cowley’s agreement with the vo-tech (schools) in Oklahoma where you can transfer your hours to Cowley and take basic courses and get an associate’s degree,” Wallace said.
Wallace toured Cowley’s campus and met with Bob Moffatt, welding technology instructor.
“He told me to look at NDT and the inspection part of welding,” Wallace said. “I had plans to graduate with my associate’s in NDT, then (NDT instructor) Bruce (Crouse) told me about the different transfer programs like Pittsburg State. That’s when I found Oklahoma State.”
Next year, Wallace plans to transfer to OSU and major in industrial engineering.
As the recipient of various Skills USA/Vocational Industrial Clubs of America awards in welding while at Autry, Wallace was an accomplished welder. However, he got the attention of Bombardier Learjet officials following an NDT exercise last year.
“My partner, Richard Burke, and I were doing an X-ray in the NDT lab, and Bombardier gave us three or four different parts that had a determined crack in them,” Wallace explained. “We wanted to see how far away the part could be from the focal center of the X-ray tube before it would be distorted and not clear enough to inspect.”
The men presented their findings to Bombardier officials last spring, and they made a positive impression.
“They liked it,” Wallace said.
Wallace said he was surprised to be named Student of the Month for September.
“The other people in the running were just as deserving as me,” he said. “I guess being selected was icing on the cake. I think it’s more recognition of those who go beyond the average college student.”
Although Wallace’s uncle in Texas is a welder, that didn’t influence his decision to go to Autry. Now, Wallace says he’s focusing on a career as an inspector.
“I’ve always been the type of person that likes to check things out and make sure it’s safe, even when I was young,” he said. He’s leaning toward a career as an inspector of construction projects such as bridges and buildings.
He’ll be a tall one at that. The second-most asked question of him, right behind the racecar driver, is “How tall are you?”
“Six-foot-seven the last time I measured,” Wallace said.
Wallace said he’s matured since arriving at Cowley.
“I’d say I’ve changed regarding leadership and maturity issues,” he said. “You have to step up and do your own laundry. Last year, I lived in an apartment and cooked my own food. Being so involved made it easier to get connected with everyone.”
Wallace credits his father for having the greatest influence on him.
“He’s been through a lot,” Wallace said. “When he was eight or nine, his mother and sister were killed in a car-train wreck in Florida. He lost his father his senior year of high school, and then his brother in 1992.
“My mom went back to school to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing when I was in high school, so he played Mr. Mom. He’s always been there for me.”
In what little spare time Wallace has, he likes to make movies on his computer. One of his videos was of a pumpkin patch operated by his church back in Enid.