By Shannon Rigsby, MPS Communications
Mustang High School’s Rebekah Pope holds the honor of being the first individual to simultaneously hold the offices of senior class president and president of the Mustang High School Student Council (STUCO). Coming from a family steeped in athletics, Pope doesn’t mind the idea of competition. Elections are part of the leadership roles she has chosen, but she revels in the idea of teamwork, of eliciting the opinions of a disparate group and leading them toward a cohesiveness.
Pope became interested in serving when she was in middle school.
“My inspiration came from my sister, Hannah, when I was at Mustang North,” she said. “She was extremely involved. First off, she maintained a 4.5 GPA and was still involved. It opened doors for PLC (President’s Leadership Class) at OU. It kept her really balanced and made her more well-rounded. Speaking in front of adults prepares you for life.”
While Hannah is more reserved, Rebekah is outgoing.
“I thought, what could I do if I ran for it and I wasn’t so shy? She’s just inspirational,” Pope said.
Her freshman year, Pope joined the MHS Student Council where she met then-president Heidi McDaniel.
“She really impacted my route when it came to leadership,” Pope said. “She oozed so much grace and she was so approachable. That was the main thing. I thought, if she can be president, so can I. So I ran for freshman office.”
Pope won. She remembers it was the first year they attempted a freshman-only assembly, created and led by freshman officers. McDaniel was there to help them plan the assembly, but the freshman got to decide their class motto and what they wanted to highlight in the assembly.
“At the end of that assembly, it was my first mini speech,” she said. ‘There were 700 kids at that time, so it was terrifying. Now they do that assembly every year.”
She ran again and won her sophomore year, but found the sophomore class president doesn’t have a large role. She added STUCO to her list of activities.
“I went to a leadership camp called BASIC Leadership in Alva, Oklahoma, where you learn how to work with groups,” she said. “I loved it. STUCO is amazing.”
It’s not the power that comes with the position that Pope is attracted to – it’s bringing together the populous. She feels empowered to talk to anyone and everyone to gather ideas. There are processes to be followed, with ideas taking a route through administration. There are votes to be cast and to be counted. For Pope, there is no person whose vote is insignificant.
When the time came to run for office for the 2017-2018 school year, Pope was torn. There was a belief that a student couldn’t simultaneously serve as president of the senior class and president of the MHS Student Council.
“My brain said I have to talk to them (the Class of 2018) before we leave,” she said. “If I start this off with my group, I want to finish it with them as well.”
She ran for president of her senior class and won. A check of the rules showed there was no reason why she couldn’t be STUCO president as well. She won both.
Besides family and leadership, Pope’s life revolves around her faith. Her father, Eric Pope, founded Life Restoration Center in Bethany where he serves as the pastor. Pope has been the drummer and a singer for the church for the past seven years. She planned vacation Bible school over the summer.
“If I’m not in school, that’s where I am,” she said.
Pope plans to major in biochemical engineering at the University of Oklahoma, with a double minor in political science and Spanish. Her plan is medical school, but leading people is her passion as well. A stop some day on Pennsylvania Avenue has always been in the back of her mind.
“It’s on my brain,” she said. “It has been for awhile. I remember in elementary school, I drew a president giving out money. It’s a long journey and if the opportunity really came, I would definitely go for it.”