Scholarship opens window of opportunity

By Nathan Porter, Class of 2013

Chris Craighead is a Quest Whole Person Scholarship recipient from Louisiana.
Chris Craighead is a Quest Whole Person Scholarship recipient from Louisiana.

The term "whole person" has come to represent a number of different things to members of the Oral Roberts University community. It epitomizes our university founder's vision for the students. It encompasses the ultimate benchmark that students set for themselves. The term also collectively symbolizes the body of believers united under a common theme.

To freshman Chris Craighead, however, in its most practical sense the term "whole person" represents the window of opportunity that helped turn his desire to attend ORU into a reality.

Raised in Mandeville, La., Craighead was vaguely familiar with ORU as he was growing up. A little over 12 years ago, Craighead's grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and received treatment at CityPlex Towers across the street from the university, but over the years ORU remained a distant thought.

Throughout high school Craighead never entertained the idea of attending ORU. Despite being an outstanding student and athlete, it became clear early on for Craighead that receiving a full scholarship was necessary for him to advance to the next level. He was eventually offered a scholarship to play baseball for a university in Alabama, but lost the scholarship after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during his senior year.

One day when Craighead came home from school, his mother urged him to apply to ORU and attend a Quest Whole Person Scholarship event. Although initially reluctant, he applied and came to campus for a Scholarship Day in the spring of 2011.

Craighead toured the university, sat in on classes, and was given the opportunity to talk with current and prospective students and was astounded by the culture and mission of ORU.

"I was very impressed with the faculty, and I thought the campus was beautiful," he recalled.

Craighead was falling in love with the school, and quickly realized that the emphasis on whole-person education was something he was not likely to find elsewhere.

Despite his enthusiasm for ORU, Craighead knew that his chances of receiving the full scholarship were slim. "I thought to myself that it would be great if I got it, but I really wasn't expecting to," he said.

More than 80 students attended the event that day, and Craighead was told that only one of the top scholarship awards remained available. He prayed for an opportunity to attend ORU, but in the meantime he planned to attend a local community college in Louisiana.

A few months later, Craighead was relaxing in the park with his girlfriend when his father called him and told him that he had received the last scholarship.

"When I heard the news I went crazy, my girlfriend went crazy, my dad went crazy, then I got home and my whole family went crazy," said Craighead jokingly.

Since coming to ORU, this International Business and International Community Development major has recognized the impact of the university's whole-person education and its implications in his own life.

Craighead hopes to one day train and cultivate international business leaders through the church. He also acknowledges that there are many students like him who would benefit greatly from attending this university, but are separated by a financial wall. He is extremely thankful for the role the scholarship has played in his life and prays that in the future, the scholarship funding will increase to give more students like him an opportunity.

Every day Craighead reflects on the tremendous gift he has received and does not take that gift lightly.

"I know that if it wasn't for this scholarship, I wouldn't be here…and so I treat every day that I'm here as a huge blessing," he said.