Education is important to Lori Few and Dr. Janet Wansick.

Few and Wansick came to know each through community involvement over the years in McAlester, but worked more closely after Wansick joined the McAlester Public Schools Board of Education in February 2010.

“That's really where I got to spend a little bit more time with her and got to understand how much she valued education,” Few said. “I always just admired her being a woman who held a doctorate degree, who worked in higher education and I watched her just be involved in different community events, different boards that she served on.”

Wansick said she is proud to have worked with Few through McAlester Public Schools, Pride in McAlester, and other groups.

“She's very dedicated to the community and I really appreciate her,” Wansick said.

The Journal Record named Few and Wansick among its 2019 Fifty Making a Difference — the Woman of the Year program that spotlights female business and community leaders. The two will be among those honored at an event set for Oct. 10 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, where the Woman of the Year will be announced.

Wansick is the vice president of academic affairs at Connors State College.

She began her career in education in 1992 as a math instructor at McAlester Public Schools before starting in 2002 as a teacher at Northern Oklahoma College, while working on her doctoral degree at Oklahoma State University.

She joined Eastern Oklahoma State College in 2011 and served as vice president of academic affairs from 2015 to 2017 before joining Connors State College. She has served on the Chamber of Commerce Board, serves on the local Women Empowering Women board, and graduated from and is a lifetime member of Leadership of Oklahoma.

“I hope that I've impacted people and made them understand the importance of education because education really is what put me on the path that I'm on right now,” Wansick said.

Few is the executive assistant at McAlester Public Schools and serves on several local advisory boards.

She served as executive director of Miss McAlester from 2015 to this year, when she stepped down to become a Miss Oklahoma field director, and has been involved with Beta Iota for the last decade.

Few is involved in the local Rotary Club, the city’s water advisory committee, the McAlester Regional Hospital Foundation board, the Pink Ribbon Committee, and more.

She and her husband also started the Few Family Foundation scholarship five years ago, which awards scholarships to high school seniors who are involved in the community and overcame adversity.

“That's probably one of the things that I'm most proud of,” Few said.

Few said part of her inspiration behind the program came from spending a lot of her teenage years in foster care before her drama/debate teacher and her husband became her certified foster parents.

She said her foster parents motivated her to graduate from Muldrow in 1999 and go on to graduate from Southeastern Oklahoma state University in 2003 to become the first in her family with a college education.

“They showed me that higher education and getting a college degree was possible,” Few said. “I probably wouldn't have graduated from high school without them, so them investing in me as student really helped me overcome a lot of adversity.”

Few said she doesn’t like the spotlight but hopes to inspire young women.

“I always tell them that it doesn't matter where you come from, it's where you're going,” Few said. “And one of my favorite sayings that I always say is ‘grow through what you go through.’”

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com