Pettijohn embraced opportunities from first visit to graduation from MSU Texas

Celebrating a journey together

Pettijohn embraced opportunities from first visit to graduation from MSU Texas

Gabbie Pettijohn was ready to embrace the challenge of college classes, even while she was a shining star at City View High School in Wichita Falls.

She had a vision to attend law school. Earning college credits a little early would get her to that stage even quicker. So she signed up for dual credit courses with Midwestern State University.

Marcy Brown Marsden, who was then the dean of the McCoy College of Science, Mathematics & Engineering at MSU Texas, wanted to teach a dual credit class herself to gain an understanding of what other professors would be doing in the program.

Those two visions met when Brown Marsden went to City View to meet with her dual credit class. Pettijohn relished the chance to build a personal relationship with a dean. Biology was not her favorite field, but both student and professor from that dual credit course have done their best to push MSU Texas forward the past few years.

Brown Marsden offered Pettijohn and a classmate, Mason Metcalf, the chance to “shadow” the dean for a day. Pettijohn doesn’t pass by opportunities like that. She showed up full of spirit and morning coffee. Brown Marsden recalls Pettijohn speaking up and contributing to the conversation in a meeting about a book-plating ceremony. “She was confident that she could contribute something; that was great to hear,” Brown Marsden said.

Pettijohn has a goal during meetings to ask at least one question in order to learn. “I was always really confident, and I was the type of kid who would walk up to someone and start talking,” she said.

Dr. Marcy Brown Marsden with Gabbie Pettijohn

Brown Marsden smiled at hearing that story from Pettijohn and said that “sounds familiar," noting her own experiences at MSU Texas.

Overcoming those natural nerves to ask questions and engage in conversation is one of the ways Pettijohn made an impression on Brown Marsden. Pettijohn loved that class where they met but admits, “I don’t remember most of the subject material.”

What she does remember is that a dean from MSU Texas visited her school. “When you’re a student in Wichita Falls, you don’t automatically think of MSU because it feels like the easy choice or a cop-out,” Pettijohn said. “You don’t realize that it’s a good school and has a lot of great opportunities for you. You meet the dean at the school and talk and realize this could be a viable pathway.”

Gabbie Pettijohn

After Pettijohn was a full-time MSU Texas student, she was elected to the Student Government Association. During her sophomore year, the SGA asked Pettijohn to move into a vacated role and accept more responsibility. Pettijohn then served as SGA President in 2022-23. Brown Marsden said Pettijohn and her group of leaders accomplished several tasks which set a standard for others to reach for.

Pettijohn is proud of the progress SGA made during her time and believes the future is bright here as she moves to law school. She took on improving the minimum wage for campus workers. She researched to find out why the pay was at that level and then worked on finding a solution to help those around her.

“My goal was to change some of the stereotypes of SGA, which makes it feel like a checkmark on a resume” Pettijohn said. “I didn't want it to be that. We changed the constitution’s bylaws and had a student bill of rights. I like to see things get better and operate more efficiently.”

Pettijohn majored in economics with a Spanish minor. Although she comes from a family of teachers, her own graduation was still a proud day. “I’m the first one from my generation to graduate. To do that in three years and have Redwine Honors means a lot," she said.

Brown Marsden was there to see Pettijohn earn her bachelor’s degree from the Dillard College of Business Administration on May 13 during the Spring 2023 graduation ceremony. “We all want students to get here on campus, and seeing the freshmen come in is exciting; they don’t know where they’ll end up,” Brown Marsden said. “And then we all want to see students walk across the stage. Those two days are the most exciting for me. You see them at graduation, and everyone is dressed identically, even though each journey is individual, and it’s a very joyful day. I always get nervous talking at graduation, and I’ve been in higher ed 26 years.”

Both Brown Marsden and that student she met years ago in dual credit share the same purpose: making life better for students on the campus of MSU Texas. It made the Spring 2023 graduation an accomplishment and marker for Pettijohn, who is moving on, while Brown Marsden will continue to lead at MSU, now as interim provost. Their shared thirst for knowledge and understanding, which brought them together the first time, continues.

Related Posts

Additional programs expected to be available in Fall 2024

Fall 2023 Midwestern State University Graduates

Degree of difficulty

Taking MSU Texas vision abroad

Related Links

2023 MSU Texas graduation features
Neither tornado nor dyslexia could stop Weldon from earning degrees
2023 MSU Texas graduation features
Lynda Gonzalez fulfilled promise as Spring 2023 graduate

Making a difference

Gabbie Pettijohn