In high school, I distinctly recall scrolling through a list of majors that a college I was applying for offered: many were ruled out quickly. Finally the menu somehow landed on “International Relations.” I had to check it out a bit, and resolved that yes in fact this fell into the niche of learning about the countries I had poured over on maps of the globe since kindergarten, languages to be learned, places to see, and people to meet.
Things did not quite work out that way. I found myself at Cameron University for a year, taking Arabic with the husband of one of my high school teachers who taught Russian, in a couple of classes in our top in the country Army ROTC program, and shoveling credit hours to get undergrad knocked out, saving massively on rent and fees in the process.
Ultimately, I ended up at OU, with a similarly related International Studies degree, took Russian to fill the mandatory two years of language, studied abroad in Brazil, and covered a number of international topics.
Far too often there is a notion among some of “getting out of Lawton.” The sentiment is driven perhaps by a deficiency of true experience in our thriving community, and understanding the assets we have.
Among those, we can count Goodyear, an American multinational brand with exposure all over the globe. At the heart of that operation, we have thousands of workers who sought that opportunity like my dad three decades ago and nearly every brother and sister on my mom’s side. Stack on Republic, Bar S, and Silver Line Plastics, and it’s clear Lawton is a manufacturing hub some places in this world dream of: let us not rest on our laurels.
Our area is also at the forefront of innovation, particularly in energy. Our neck of the woods can boast of some of the first and largest wind farm projects in the state, dotting the northern Comanche County border. On Southwest 6th Street, a vital public-private partnership between EzGo, Sparq, and Centerpoint mean a number of City of Lawton refuse trucks can refuel with cleaner burning CNG and significantly reduce City expenses. These kind of projects will be critical to enticing industries that are now seeking them.
One can hardly talk about Lawton without mentioning Fort Sill. The home of the Sound of Freedom is as much a source of our extensive diversity as it is a significant source of history. Walk into the state’s once busiest Starbucks and one will likely find soldiers from the likes of Singapore, Germany, or the number of Middle Eastern countries here to train. Our own military brings with it an exhaustive list of international experience. Partnerships with defense contractors like Raytheon and Northrup Grumman mean one does not have to go far for a who’s who of the New York Stock Exchange. A good number of these folks shun their international experience and choose Lawton.
Ultimately, so much of what might be sought elsewhere can be found here. For that and so much more, I am Lawton Proud.