Air Force Veteran completes lifelong dream of earning bachelor’s degree; Crestmark scholarship pivotal in final semester

Air Force Veteran completes lifelong dream of earning bachelor’s degree; Crestmark scholarship pivotal in final semester

Richard Morrow, H R M '17, wearing a cap and gown and holding his diploma, with two of his sons at his Spring 2017 graduation
Richard Morrow HRM '17 with two of his sons on his Spring 2017 graduation.

Air Force Veteran, entrepreneur, project manager, single father of three, Richard Morrow, HRM ‘17, lives the adage it’s never too late to learn. Morrow, who received the Crestmark Bank scholarship in Winter 2017, embodies persistence in pursuing a college education. 

As an inflight refueling specialist, Morrow served 27 years in the Air Force logging 6,000 flying hours as a combat crew member and living in seven different countries before retiring in 2004. Recognizing the value of a college education, Morrow made many attempts to earn his bachelor’s degree during his service. In fact, he enrolled in eight different colleges during this time, but his frequent deployments interrupted every program he began.

“I was deployed to every war or conflict since 1990. I would have to drop out of college with only three days’ notice and be in another country for months,” he recalls.

Since retiring from the Air Force, he’s worked full time while going to school and raising his family. Morrow earned two associate’s degrees from Oakland Community College before transferring to OU.

He’s driven by setting an example for his sons about the importance of a college education. 

“Raising three men alone, I wanted to set an example for my sons to continue on to college,” Morrow says. Being a role model for his sons became even more important to Morrow after their mother passed away in 2009.

“I knew I needed to retrain myself to support my family. Completing my bachelor’s degree is paramount to getting a good job,” he says.

Perfect timing

Though his deployment days were over, Fall 2016 found Morrow facing another delay to his long-awaited dream of earning his bachelor’s degree when he received news about the Crestmark award.

“I had exhausted my Federal Pell grant and would not have had funding for the the winter semester,” he says. “The Crestmark scholarship meant I could complete my degree on time, graduate with less debt and still support my family,” says Morrow.

With his May graduation behind him, Morrow has achieved his dream to earn his bachelor’s degree. Now, he’s set his sights on launching a career in human resources management, ideally something that will allow him to leverage his international experience for his organization.

Dedication to excellence

“Connecting two planes in mid-air at 500 mph is very different then working and going to school, but both take motivation and dedication to excel,” says Morrow.

Morrow’s dedication to excellence wasn’t limited to his experience in the classroom or on the job. He didn’t let his non-traditional student status deter him from taking advantage of all Oakland offers.

Most notably, Morrow served as President of Oakland's Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), where he actively organized speaker and networking events and conferences.

Reflecting on his Oakland experience, Morrow says “The list of people who have supported me on my journey is long. I’m especially thankful for all of the professors who gave me perspective in my business core and the mentors of SHRM who helped me apply my education.”