She left behind a spirited legacy when she graduated from Texas Woman’s with an MBA on May 14, and whoever follows in Leslie Fredrickson’s footsteps is going to have some awfully big shoes to fill.
Like say, size 17 EEE.
It’s not that Frederickson has abnormally large feet, but for much of her time as a student at Texas Woman’s, she donned oversized shoes as part of her costume portraying the university’s No. 1 spirit leader: Oakley.
It was a role Fredrickson cherished, leading fans in cheer at countless athletics contests and posing for pictures with TWU supporters at university events.
Oakley became the university’s official mascot in 2017. The character, a cuddly barn owl, was inspired by the statue of the Pioneer Woman on the Texas Woman’s Denton campus. Students fondly dubbed the statue “Minerva,” which is a mythological warrior goddess who was accompanied by an owl.
“School spirit has always felt important to me, and Oakley seemed like the easiest way to express my love for TWU,” Fredrickson said. “As the third Oakley ever, I loved learning and growing Oakley’s character, and I am immensely excited to see my favorite owl continue to soar.”
Her spirit was on full display as a graduate and undergraduate student, sometimes without the costume. She began performing as Oakley in fall 2019.
“I grew up on the Denton campus due to my mom working here since I was 12, and I love the message and mission of TWU,” Fredrickson said. Her mother, Rebecca Fredrickson, EdD, is a professor in TWU’s Curriculum and Instruction Program.
As much as it was a rewarding experience playing the role of Oakley, Fredrickson said she will take with her many fond memories of her experiences as a student.
“TWU has always felt like home to me,” she said. “Even through the pandemic, I have felt the campus with a heart from my first day as an undergraduate marketing major, then completing my BBA to now achieving my MBA. The ‘campus-with-a-heart’ underlying identity of TWU was always present.”
With college in her rearview, Fredrickson said she now will focus her attention on a career. With the emphasis of her MBA on women’s leadership, she said she hopes to parlay her education into a position that helps carve career paths for individuals who are underrepresented in leadership roles.
And, even though she won’t be donning an Oakley costume anymore, she still plans to represent her alma mater in a positive light.
“With my degree in Women in Leadership, I strive to create space for those that were not always thought of when leadership structures were created,” Fredrickson said, adding: “And I plan to represent TWU as a caring, assertive and emotionally intelligent leader.”