Alumna Kelli O’Hara received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the university Nov. 30 in Petree Recital Hall in Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center.
“I just always wanted to do what I’m doing so badly,” O’Hara said during the ceremony. “This is above and beyond what I would ever need, just like the other thing,”
The Oklahoma native received her bachelor’s of music in vocal performance and opera in 1998. She won her first Tony award this summer for her performance as Anna Leonowens in The King and I. The award came after 15 years of working on Broadway and 5 previous nominations, according to playbill.com.
“She is sort of the Meryl Streep of Broadway,” said President Robert Henry.
Henry and alumna Jane Jayroe nominated O’Hara for the honor, which is the highest honor OCU can bestow.
The ceremony started with a video put together by members of the OCU community describing what qualified O’Hara for the honor. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett then presented O’Hara with a key to the city, saying she is “an ambassador for Oklahoma.”
Mark Parker, dean of Bass School of Music and School of Theater, then read letters written by O’Hara’s friends, coworkers and mentors.
“No one needs to call me ‘doctor’; I prefer just Kelli. Miss O’Hara if you’re nasty,” O’Hara said during her acceptance speech.
One student said she was excited to meet her role model and proud of O’Hara.
“She is the person who made me want to follow the path I am on,” said Kay Frazier, vocal performance junior. “To see her recieve this honor and to meet her is just a dream come true. Congrats Dr. O’Hara.”