POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — College of the Ozarks hosted Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House press secretary, as the speaker for the Leonard B. and Edith Gittinger Community Convocation on Thursday, Oct. 10, presented by The Keeter Center for Character Education.
More than 3,000 people attended the convocation in the Howell W. Keeter Athletic Complex on the College campus. A special College of the Ozarks Praise Ensemble, with music coordinated by John Cornish, Gregg Busch, and Kevin Powers, provided the prelude and set the stage for the evening.
In his introductory address, College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis said, “The American dream is reached by hard work, sacrifice, and entrepreneurship. As Margaret Thatcher stood up here several years ago and said, ‘America has that unique concept of philanthropy.’ There would be no philanthropy without the benefit of the American economic system. It is a free market, capitalist system: it is not socialism.”
When introducing Sanders, Davis said to her, “America is at a crossroads, and we know it’s time to stand up and be counted. We’re glad that you’re willing to join that fight.”
Throughout the presentation, Sanders captivated the audience with inspiring stories from her life as well as from her service in the White House.
“We faced a lot of battles in the course of my time in the administration. A lot of them are still going on, but we accomplished a lot. I’m incredibly proud of everything that we did,” Sanders said.
Sanders is only the third woman and the first mom to ever hold the job of White House press secretary.
“What really was impactful for me was that Mrs. Sanders found a way to show her kids that they are extremely important to her and yet also did the job she was passionate about. I really like what she said about the Holocaust as an 11-year-old: ‘Why didn’t somebody do something?’” said Katelinn Lowe, freshman accounting major.
Hailey White, freshman nursing major, added, “Mrs. Sanders’ challenge to young people to go out into the world and be the somebody to do something truly inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and stand up for the values and morals that I believe in.”
Sanders encouraged all in attendance to stand strong in their faith.
“Don’t allow the noise and distractions of the world to define you,” Sanders said. “God’s already done that, and nobody can do it better. I think the most important thing you can do as a person of faith is own it. Don’t just own it in church on Sunday but own it in the most public way that you possibly can.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders served as White House press secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2019. A trusted confidante of the President, Sanders advised him on everything from press and communications strategy to personnel and policy. For two and a half years, Sanders was at the President’s side, battling with the media, working with lawmakers and CEOs, and staffing the President on every foreign trip, including dozens of meetings with foreign leaders.
Upon her departure from the administration, President Trump described Sanders as “irreplaceable,” a “warrior,” and a “very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job.” An early supporter of President Trump, Sanders joined the Trump campaign as a senior advisor in February 2016 during the Republican Primary and continued in that role through the Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton.
Sanders has been named one of TIME Magazine’s “40 under 40” and is recognized as one of the best political operatives of her generation. She has also advised major Fortune 500 companies and non-profits, including serving as campaign manager of the ONE campaign, a global non-profit founded by U2’s Bono to take action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.
Sanders currently resides in Arkansas with her husband, Bryan, and their three children, Scarlett, Huck and George.