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Sundee Busby

Gaylord Extra: April 2023

Alumni Feature: Sundee Busby

By Jackson Conner, Gaylord College Class of 2023

Sundee Busby strives to exemplify the versatile nature of a degree from Gaylord College and how saying “yes” can open doors that one never thought imaginable.

A 2000 graduate of the journalism school before it was Gaylord College, Busby left OU with a public relations degree and was unsure of what career path she wanted to go down – something that many students struggle with before entering the workforce.

She knew she wanted to be in a forward-facing setting that would allow her to interact with people and communities rather than working behind-the-scenes, and she chose against the PR agencies typically popular with recent graduates. Instead, she moved to Ft. Worth to work in banking.

She joined a family-owned bank in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro and worked in the marketing department, creating promotional materials, putting together annual reports and most importantly to her, working on community outreach events.

That’s where Busby got a taste of event planning. With opportunities to do outreach at events such as the PGA’s Colonial National Invitational in Fort Worth, her first big PR role out of college allowed her to fall in love with the profession and learn how multifaceted the degree can be.

She returned to Oklahoma and was hired by Chesapeake Energy as the oil and gas giant’s event planner. Working for Chesapeake until 2016, Busby interacted with executives and planned large-scale events that served the community and the up to 10,000 people employed by the company.

One event she spearheaded was the company-wide blood drive through Oklahoma Blood Institute, now Our Blood Institute (OBI). She says that was almost a passion project for her, helping lead a company of thousands in giving blood for those in the state who needed it – with Chesapeake into becoming the biggest donor organization in the state.

After leaving Chesapeake in 2016, the transition to OBI felt like a natural one.

“I wanted to get involved with OBI because I knew that I loved the organization and that I wanted to make a difference,” Busby said. “They approached me about being the community relations manager and I loved the idea because I thought it was a great fit with my experience and what I wanted to do.”

Now the director of volunteer services at OBI, Busby says her time with the organization has allowed her to use all her public relations skills, working with the community, managing employees and most of all, telling the story about saving lives through OBI.

“Getting behind-the-scenes to tell our story, promote what we are doing and go out in the community – it’s a fantastic position where I still get to use my degree 23 years later,” Busby said.

Now managing volunteer services across all locations in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, Busby attributes her career success to saying “yes.”

“Being able to say ‘yes’ and think about what happens later will always open doors that you couldn’t even imagine would be a door of interest to you, Busby said. “If you don’t pigeonhole yourself and think, ‘oh, I only want to go into this…’ then you will be so much happier and much more able to find opportunities along the way that work for you.”

Busby says a Gaylord education and the skills she learned at OU were significant factors in discovering a career she loves. Her advice for students is to network, network, network.

“Take the core things you learn at Gaylord: networking, storytelling, being a good listener and saying yes when asked. These are the things that will allow you to find your passion and turn that passion into a career. However, to this day, I am convinced that it is all about networking.”

Busby continues to be involved with Gaylord College, serving in multiple capacities with the Gaylord College Alumni Association (JAYMAC), including as president in 2022. She represented Our Blood Institute at the Gaylord career fair on March 28.

Sundee Busby