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January 11, 2010

Former student credits Cowley with helping him reach his potential


Brett AlbrightBrett Albright came to Cowley College to get his math out of the way, he had no idea how good that decision would turn out to be.

After graduating from Winfield High School in 2005, Albright decided to attend Cowley before going on to a four-year university.

“I intended to stay at Cowley for one year, but decided to come back an extra year and get some classes out of the way,” Albright said. “The people at Cowley are really nice and I liked the small class sizes.”

Albright believes Cowley helped him break out of his shell and gain confidence. At Cowley, he was involved in the Math and Science Club, the Academic Excellence Challenge team, and served as an academic tutor.

Albright enrolled in Calculus I his freshman year at Cowley. In that class were a couple of other Winfield High School graduates, Matt Beach and Derick Bowman, as well as Wellington High School graduate, Steven Arebalo.

Greg Nichols, who was the instructor for the class, recruited the four students to take part in the Academic Excellence Challenge team.

“I knew they had an internal competition where they all liked to beat each other,” Nichols said.

The four students helped Cowley’s AEC team win regionals and go undefeated until the state competition. Although they did not win the state meet, the team fared well and came up just a few points short in its competition.

Albright would spend extra time before his Calculus class discussing different math problems with Nichols.

“He was the best teacher I had at Cowley, he was always willing to work with you one-on-one,” Albright said. “I greatly appreciated being able to get my calculus out of the way at Cowley. It made a big difference for me, I felt so far behind coming in on the math.”

Nichols, who received the college’s Paul Stirnaman Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009, enjoyed having Albright as a student in his Calculus 1, 2, 3 and Differential Equations classes.

“He’s a great kid, even though he is brilliant, he worked harder than most students,” Nichols said. “He is probably one of the top-five students I have worked with in my career.”

Nichols has high expectations for his students as he wants them to have an easy transition when they leave Cowley.

“I am going to challenge the student and make sure they struggle enough here so that when they get to a four-year school they can walk in and understand how the class works,” Nichols said.

After graduating from Cowley in 2007, Albright transferred to the University of Oklahoma to major in meteorology, while having a minor in math. He will graduate from Oklahoma in May and then plans on taking graduate classes at the school.

At Oklahoma University, Albright has been working with a professor on the Vortex 2 project, which gathers data on the formation and origins of tornadoes using mobile radar platforms, mesonet vehicles, UAV’s, and deployable “Tornado PODs” to be dropped in the path of tornadoes.

“It was a lot of fun getting out and doing research,” Albright said.

He is a member of the Oklahoma Weather Lab Student Forecasting Group. He also belongs to the Student Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, which serves as an advocate for meteorology and mentors younger students.

“I think the competitive and social aspect at Cowley allowed Brett to excel at a four-year college,” Nichols said. “He learned how to learn, how to study and prepare himself. I am absolutely not surprised he has gone on to do well. I believe the reason he flourished is because he needed to understand he could be successful. He gained his confidence here, because I did not cut him any slack he had to work his tail off to get a 4.0 (grade point average) in all four of my classes.”

Albright hopes to apply his meteorology degree once he is done with school.

“The job outlook is good and that field is still growing,” Albright said.

Nichols has no doubt Albright will be successful in whatever career he chooses.

“You have students every so often that you bond with and Brett is one of those students,” Nichols said. “I can’t wait to see what he does with his career. Getting to see my students achieve their goals, that’s my goal.”