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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Cunningham to receive second academic degree

Monday, November 12, 2007  
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By Wendy Sanders

Blake Cunningham, 26, received a degree from Oklahoma Christian University four years ago. Now he is back on campus pursuing an entirely different major.

Cunningham graduated from Oklahoma Christian in 2003, but now finds himself in the engineering building because of his passion and thirst for knowledge.

After taking many business classes and defaulting to a liberal studies degree, Cunningham realized he was not where he wanted to be at that point in his life.

“Everyone gave me advice, which turned out to be the worst advice,” Cunningham said. “They said, ‘Just get a degree, and you’ll find something that will make you happy.’”

After graduation, Cunningham assisted in the opening of the sandwich shop, Jimmy Johns, on 2nd Street. Two years later, after working with his degree, he wanted to do something different.

“One day, I had a realization that what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was develop musical instruments. So, I decided to go back and get an electrical engineering degree,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham hopes to use his degree to make music equipment after graduation in April of 2009.

When Cunningham was young he learned to play piano, but has always favored the guitar.

During his freshman year of college, Cunningham became interested in guitar. His neighbors played together, and he fell in love with the idea.

“I picked it up quick, and really about flunked out of school because I played way too much,” Cunningham said. “I was doing that instead of school. I couldn’t set it down.”

Cunningham received his first guitar during Christmas and began taking the beginning guitar class with Gary Bruce.

After playing guitar for just a few years, Cunningham joined Summer Singers and spent the last two years of college devoted to playing his guitar for the school.

“While I was in that, I got really into guitar amplifiers and pickups and stuff like that, and so I guess really through that, my interest in everything musical changed,” Cunningham said.

The Dean of Students, Neil Arter, has spent a great deal of time with Cunningham through Summer Singers and his time in school.

“It’s a commitment you know, it really is. He’s doing a really good job at staying after it,” Arter said. “I know it’s hard, too, if you ask him. He is a good example of persistence.”

Cunningham is in his first semester of junior level classes and finally beginning more of the electrical related school work he has been waiting to take.

After not taking a math class in seven years, Cunningham was forced to recall formulas and other concepts he had not used.

He said it is harder than he thought it would be.

His professors, including Professor of Computer and Electrical Engineering, Robert Mitchell, comment positively on how he came back to school and joined the engineering department.

“It’s pretty amazing to come back,” Mitchell said. “I’ve never heard of it before for somebody who already has a degree in a field and doesn’t have any engineering courses really. They move over and start the program. That’s amazing.”

Cunningham is often found with the other engineering majors late at night studying in the classroom, but he believes it is worth the time and money.

“He just really loves music,” Mitchell said. “He said even when he didn’t know what he was looking at, he would take apart a guitar amplifier and just look at the circuits. Some people have a passion for that. It’s good to work on something that you’re really interested in. That’s really what his passion is.” 

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