An advocate for higher education funding and affordable education for all Oklahoma students State Representative Jon Echols (R-Okla. City) was honored with the 2014-15 Distinguished Service Award by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the Council of College and University Presidents. Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC), one of two higher education institutions within Echols’ district, hosted the awards ceremony Thursday.
The Distinguished Service Award is presented to policy leaders who demonstrate exceptional leadership and support of higher education during the legislative session.
During the ceremony, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, OCCC President Paul Sechrist, Cameron University President John McArthur, University of Central Oklahoma President Don Betz and Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City President Natalie Shirley applauded Echols determination to help and genuine passion for higher education.
“Representative Echols is very deserving of the Distinguished Service Award. He has consistently been a strong champion for higher education, working hard on behalf of our students and our colleges and universities,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Our state system of higher education is grateful for his leadership in keeping higher education a top priority. We look forward to continuing our work with Representative Echols in the future.”
After accepting his award, Echols acknowledged his family including his father David Echols, wife Kristen Echols and their three children David, Ethan and Kaylee.
“I was blessed to be born into the family I was born into. I didn’t earn it. I didn’t deserve it. God just blessed me. There are a lot of children out there that didn’t start with the advantages that I started with. That didn’t have the exact same education opportunities,” he said.
Echols who grew up 3 miles from OCCC, said he could not think of a place he would rather receive his award.
“I believe we all have the opportunity to achieve our dreams and achieve our goals. I believe in a state government that sets up a system that helps those who want to work achieve those goals. That’s why I believe in the Oklahoma promise. … That’s why I believe in what OCCC does at Western Heights, a school in my district, where if you’re a graduate from the Western Heights School District you get to go to OCCC for free. That if you’re a graduate from the Oklahoma City Public School District, you get to go to OCCC for free. These are the stories that need to be told about higher education.”
In 2012, Echols was elected to represent House District 90 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Echols is a small-business man who has started many successful businesses including: Sooner Medical Staffing, Absolute Senior Care, Cornerstone Sourcing and ESW Holdings. Hundreds of Oklahomans are employed by various companies owned and operated by Echols and his business partners.
Most recently, in 2014 Echols was appointed by the speaker to serve as the vice-chair of the Judiciary and Civil Procedure Committee. He also continues to serve as an Assistant Majority Whip.