News Story

Pryor seniors named to Northeastern State University’s President’s Leadership Class

Rachel Ross, daughter of Keith and Kristy Ross, and Tori Dodson, daughter of Steven and Shelley Dodson, were selected as two of 17 for Northeastern State University’s 2015 President’s Leadership Class (PLC). 

This year more than 250 high school seniors applied for the program. NSU offers approximately 15 spots to each incoming class of freshmen. 

Ross served as the vice president of the Interact Club, the youth branch of the Rotary Club, and vice president of her senior class. She also served as a student leader of the Backpack Program.

Volunteering has been an important aspect of Ross’s life. This summer, she participated in a mission trip to Zambia, Africa, and she has also been a part of a 13-day mission trip to Madrid, Spain. 

Dodson served as the president of Student Council at Pryor High School, as well as the varsity cheer squad and pom squad captain. She is also a volunteer for the Backpack project and the Leaders of Future Tigers (LOFT) program. Outside of school Dodson regularly volunteers for Walking Wednesdays and the Red Cross Blood Drives. 

During Dodson’s sophomore year of high school, Pryor hosted the Oklahoma Association of Student Councils State Conference, and Dodson served as the committee head for the Student Mixer, an event that involved more than 2,000 students. 

President’s Leadership Class

PLC is a unique program that gives incoming freshmen both continual leadership skill building opportunities and a break on costs associated with attending college in return for participation. 

The program has a long history at NSU, dating back to 1974. Former NSU President Dr. Don Betz was an assistant professor of political science at the time and saw the need to promote and subsequently reward leadership demonstrated by incoming freshmen.

Since then, PLC has had 329 alumni members and currently has 51 students. Notable graduates include Dr. Denise Spears Roddy and Dr. Kathleen Foster Elliott, who both have been named Oklahoma Optometrist of the Year; Stephen Highers, Tahlequah city councilman; Glenn Coffee, the 30th Oklahoma Secretary of State and former Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore; John deSteiguer, the president of Oklahoma Christian University; and NSU directors Jeff Walker, Peggy Glenn, Chris Adney, Daniel Johnson and Anita Thompson. 

Scholarship Increase

The President’s Leadership Class (PLC) was recently endowed a substantial portion of the late Mary Katherine and Eva Harriet Stewart estates. 

The inaugural PLC students attended NSU at a time when tuition was $10.50 per credit hour, or $157.50 per semester, and through the program each student was able to receive a $315 tuition waiver and $1,415 cash. Current PLC students receive 15 credit hours of tuition waivers and $1,200 cash per semester each.

Thanks to the Stewart sisters, who both attended NSU in the 1930s and worked for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the stipend amount that each continuing PLC student will receive beginning in the fall of 2015 will increase by 20 percent. In addition, NSU will provide incoming freshmen with funds to cover half of their on-campus housing costs.  These are the first significant increases in the PLC scholarship in many years.

Those selected as PLC members are held to a high standard of excellence and are provided with ample opportunity to excel at NSU in leadership positions.

“The question we ask when choosing the incoming class is ‘Are you a move and a shaker?’ and if they are, we ask, ‘Can we get you to do that here at NSU?’” Kin Thompson, faculty sponsor of PLC, said.

In the first year of the program, students are required to complete a freshmen orientation course led by Thompson focused on personal leadership. Thompson hopes to further the support he can offer to students in the future by extending the course schedule to last all four years, with sophomore year focusing on leading peers, junior year on leading in the community and senior year on leading globally.

“This class historically consists of outstanding students, some of which have even been named to NSU’s Hall of Fame,” Thompson said. “You can’t be surprised they end up as stand-outs on campus. They’re very driven academically and the networking that is available for them allows them to make connections, build skills and confidence and be equipped to be excellence-practicing leaders after graduation.”

For more information about the President’s Leadership Class or for more information on how to apply, contact Kin Thompson at 918-444-3087 or

Published: 7/31/2015 11:18:56 AM

Go back to News Central