Displaying the characteristic Chickasaw spirit of determination, Dr. Debra Vaughn harnessed her strength and willpower and was able to receive an education – something she certainly doesn’t take for granted.
Debra grew up in the Chickasaw Nation, where her family farmed along the Washita River. She is the great-granddaughter and granddaughter of original enrollees Willie Colbert and Thanet Colbert Jopling Thompson and is a descendant of James Logan Colbert, a prominent 18th century Scottish trader with the Nation.
Her farming roots taught her the meaning of working hard, and later in life, as a first-generation, adult student, she went on to complete a college education while working full-time as a Johnson-O'Malley Indian Education Coordinator and raising a family.
She didn't just stop there – after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and a Bachelor of Science degree in health education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Debra stuck around to achieve two master's degrees in education and continued to Stillwater to earn a doctorate in education from OSU.
Debra currently serves as the Director of Student Employment & Career Services at Oklahoma City Community College and is also an adjunct in American history and career courses. As an adamant proponent of higher education, she applauds the Chickasaw Nation for the millions of dollars it gives annually in the form of scholarships to help its citizens obtain college degrees. Debra believes that encouraging higher education not only improves the state as a whole, but also improves the quality of life for all Oklahomans.