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May 9, 2014

Third-generation grads carry on tradition

NORMAN — Sisters Lauren O’Brien Saunders and Katie O’Brien will carry on an O’Brien family tradition by becoming third-generation graduates of the University of Oklahoma this weekend.

Lauren will receive her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and Katie will graduate from the College of Law with a juris doctorate and energy certificate. Katie also earned her bachelor’s degree from OU with a B.B.A. in energy management.

The legacy began with their grandparents, Brian and Sandra O’Brien, of Houston. Brian received a B.S. in geology in 1958 and earned his master’s degree in geology in 1961.

Sandra graduated in 1957 with a B.S. in education, and in 2008, she received an honorary doctorate degree from OU for her support of her alma mater, particularly the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education.

The O’Briens provided a major gift to expand and renovate Collings Hall, home of the College of Education.

They also have endowed scholarships for students majoring in special education, and they were the first to endow a Presidential Professorship to recruit, retain and honor outstanding teachers and mentors.

Sandra was a charter member of the College of Education’s Board of Advocates, and she has served on other OU committees, including OU’s Campaign for Scholarships.

The College of Education’s computer lab is named in honor of Sandra, and the bell tower of Collings Hall is named after the O’Briens.

Brian served as chair of the capital campaign for Sarkeys Energy Center, and he is a trustee emeritus of the OU Foundation. The O’Briens are also founders of Sarkeys Energy Center, where they have a courtyard named in their honor. Both Brian and Sandra have been honored with the OU Regents’ Alumni Award.

Lauren and Katie’s parents also have degrees from OU. Tim O’Brien graduated in 1988 with a B.A. in journalism — radio/TV/film. Barbara O’Brien Carter received her M.S. in nursing from OU in 2008.

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