“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” Wade Boggs
Korie Hawkins’ life demonstrates the true power of a positive attitude. Her advisor told her the first time he saw her that she was meant to be a Communications major; her face was made for the camera! Yet, even with a smile like that, Korie seemed to make more enemies than friends. Her attitude often got her involved in more drama than she’d signed up for. It was not until her mindset changed that she began to turn her enemies into friends. She turned her frustrations into motivations and her failures into stepping stones. Now, a representative of SC, she inspires youngsters around Kansas and Oklahoma to dream big. She inspires her friends to love unconditionally. She inspires her colleagues to aim high. Read her story below, and see that life becomes more meaningful when you get yourself an….
As her name was called out, the stadium burst into cheer. This was it; the moment she had been waiting for. Her Facebook status only days before was, “Remember when Fantasia broke her shoe on stage, when she won American Idol. I feel like that will be me on May 5th! God is so worthy of all the PRAISE!” As Korie Hawkins walked across that stage, she couldn’t have planned it better. She AND her shoes rocked it as her family and friends cheered her on. She’d had more than her share of challenges; but by the grace of God she had made it!
Seeing her in that moment, took me back to the day I sat in her office only two weeks before graduation. Korie had piles of assignments to turn in; in addition to planning events for her full time job in the college Welcome Center. Did I mention this was in April – the busiest time of the year for the Admissions Office (finalizing enrollment is no piece of cake). Yet, even as she was clearly being pulled in every direction, Korie made time to share her story.
Her office was like a window into her soul. The inspirational posters on the walls echoed her perseverance and faith. The photos of smiling faces were a reflection of the many relationships she had formed over her years at SC. Everything in her office was colorful, exciting, and friendly. It definitely reminded me of what it means to have Builder Spirit. From her office alone, I could tell that Korie was passionate about life; she was passionate about her job; she was passionate about being a Builder.
The last word I would use to describe this space – to describe Korie – is ‘unwelcoming’. Yet there was a time when Korie was exactly that. Unapproachable, some might even say rude. When she came to SC, Korie was all about Korie. Her strong and independent personality intimidated many people. It was hard for her to let people in and she admits she didn’t try. Perhaps it was her painful past that caused her to build a wall around her heart. After losing the key father-figure in her life to cancer, she began to see no reason to connect with people. After all she wasn’t here to make friends…
Yet somewhere along the way, she began to open up. She still can’t explain what exactly caused the change, but she gives a lot of the credit to God. She also knows she wouldn’t be here without her friend-turned-boyfriend, Branden. “I met him freshman year and we became good friends. He was just as blunt as I was” she laughs. “He wasn’t afraid to call me out when I said or did something wrong.” She is grateful that he was open with her because that helped her grow.
Another influential person in Korie’s life is Sheleah Taylor who was an admissions counselor when Korie first came to SC. “The moment I set foot on SC everyone told me I reminded them of Sheleah!” says Korie. She recalls finding herself in many settings with Sheleah, and within weeks of knowing her, Korie said to herself, “I wanna be just like Sheleah!” Sheleah’s personality and attitute inspired her. Korie also met many other people at SC whose influence slowly began to make a difference in her outlook. And now, when asked what advice she would give to ‘Past Korie‘ she flashes her made-for-camera smile and says, “Keep the Drive; Lose the Attitude.”
The transformation is unbelievable. Looking back, Korie says some of her worst enemies have evolved into her closest friends. She is grateful for her attitude makeover, because it gave her the opportunity to build some of the most meaningful relationships of her life. The SC experience really brought her out of her shell and allowed her to interact with people very different from herself. And it is through those relationships that Korie has discovered and is continuing to discover who she is.
Her journey at SC has revealed one of her greatest passions: people. She has also realized her love for recruiting and cultivating young Builders. “SC is about the people!” Korie explains, “I for one am intentional about the type of student I recruit. Each Builder is vital to the life of SC, and I am honored to be part of the team responsible for recruiting such people.” Korie loves her job in the SC Welcome Center. “This job has given me several opportunities to mend bridges and grow as a person! It is probably the best thing that has happened to me!” As the OKC/Tulsa Admissions counselor, Korie has the unique opportunity to unite the two places she calls home: Southwestern and Oklahoma. “My job is an opportunity to use my skills to give back to Southwestern and to give back to my hometown. I am excited about the new relationship between SC and my home state.”
If you had told her that she would be here today, with a Master’s degree in Leadership, and working with people, she would have laughed. In fact, a few weeks before she started the Masters Program and her new job at SC she faced a challenge that threatened her decision to come here. She was involved in a car accident that tested her strength; and showed her just how much she had grown. In the events that followed, Korie found out that the injuries she sustained might make it impossible for her to ever have children. Faced with this trauma and this earth-shattering news, Korie had no choice but to find inner strength and determination. She was not going to let this bring her down or derail her from her path. Drawing from her Native American heritage Korie applied the dream-catcher analogy: Just as a dream catcher filters out nightmares and preserves pleasant dreams; Korie made the decision to hold on to the positive. She was not about to let her setbacks define her. Sure she had experienced one of the hardest weeks of her life. But on the other side of the spectrum, she had been presented with one of the best opportunities of her life. So even though it hurt – physically and emotionally – Korie packed her bags and made her way back to Southwestern College. And here she is, reaping the fruits of her hard work.
In just one year, Korie has grown on many levels. She spearheaded a project that brought together several educational leaders from Oklahoma and Kansas. There she presented to people who had known her as the little girl with an attitude. Yet now, she was pleased to show them a different Korie; a Korie they have come to know and respect as a colleague and friend. She has learned how to channel her energy and maintain her smile.
And as she begins yet another chapter of her life she is excited for another opportunity for transformation and growth. This fall, her territory is expanding to include Wichita in addition to Tulsa and OKC. Furthermore, Korie has become a mentor for prospective students. While she enjoys working with all groups, she has been assigned to work more closely with minority females. Her mixed African American/Native American heritage make her an ideal role model for minority women. Her openness to diversity on every level is truly inspiring.
A few days ago, Korie’s Facebook status read: “Thinking to myself, I just want to be successful…….. # feeling determined.” Inspired by her determination and drive, I promptly hit the like button as I prepared to scroll down and continue to stalk other people on my news feed. It was then I paused realizing just how true to herself Korie had been! Following her own advice, she really did “Keep the drive; and lose the attitude!” I am excited to see where God will take her; and what heights she will reach this year. After all, Zig Ziglar did have a point when he said “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”