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Oklahoma State University

Future Teacher Surprised with Life-Changing Gift

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

While most Mondays are easily forgotten, that was not the case for Jordan Webb, graduating elementary education senior in the Oklahoma State University College of Education, Health and Aviation, who was surprised with a life-changing gift on Monday afternoon. Bryan Close, OSU alumnus, announced that he was paying off Webb’s student loan debt through a scholarship award.

“This is not what I expected,” said Webb. “I thought I was just being recognized. Wow. This is amazing.”

Webb had been called into a meeting with the dean under the premise that she was receiving an award. When she walked into the room, Close was there and presented her with a certificate and letter.

“It took a few moments for her to fully comprehend the weight of what was happening, but once it did, her face said it all,” said John Romans, dean of the College of Education, Health and Aviation. “You could see the array of emotions, from shock and disbelief, to surprise and elation and, ultimately, extreme gratitude.”

The moment was especially heartfelt for Close, who had been sitting on the idea since last May. Close’s inspiration came from fellow donor Piyush Patel, who announced that he and his wife were paying off a graduating senior’s student loans during the Spring 2017 commencement ceremony. 

“When I saw that story, I thought it was brilliant,” said Close. “I knew instantly that I wanted to do that too.”

Specifically, he wanted to pay off student loan debt for an education major. Close worked with university officials to set criteria for the scholarship award and the final selection was made by a college committee. Close’s passion for education and commitment to teachers runs deep. “In honor of school teachers everywhere,” he recently matched the first $1,890 given to funds supporting educators in Oklahoma during OSU’s Give Orange campaign.

“Education is the key to success,” said Close. 

Close graduated from OSU in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant administration. He currently serves as the president of CloseBend, Inc., a company his father started in 1974. Close is an avid supporter of OSU and has established several endowed scholarships, including a transfer student scholarship in the College of Education, Health and Aviation. In 2015, he was inducted into the OSU Hall of Fame.

Close will join Webb’s family for graduation on Saturday as they celebrate the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Following graduation, Webb will begin the master's program in educational psychology in the OSU College of Education, Health and Aviation.  

“I can’t put into words what this means,” said Webb. “It’s amazing to know that moving forward, as I start graduate school, I don’t have student loan debt weighing me down. I’m debt-free! Thank you, thank you, thank you.”