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Vernon Oakes, Business Executive and Educator, Delivers BSC’s 2010 Founder’s Day Address (w/photo)

  • Created
    Wednesday, October 20 2010
  • Created by
    Jim Nelson/Media Relations - (304) 327-4103
Vernon Oakes (right), a very successful business leader and educator, is pictured with Deirdre Guyton, Bluefield State College Director of Alumni Affairs, during his recent Founder’s Day speech at BSC.  A BSC alumnus (Class of 1970), Oakes is founder and president of Oakes Management, Inc. in Washington, DC.

(Bluefield)—Vernon Oakes, a Bluefield State College alumnus (Class of 1970) returned to his alma mater recently to deliver Bluefield State College’s 2010 Founder’s Day speech.  A former president of the BSC Student Senate, Oakes highlighted the importance of an education in his address to BSC students, alumni, employees, and community leaders.

“Bluefield State College gave me a foundation,” he said.  “As I was growing up in Bluefield, I now realize we were probably underprivileged, but we didn’t feel underprivileged.  My mother graduated from BSC and became a teacher.  She always stressed the importance of an education.”

A football star at Bluefield High School, Oakes was a student leader at BSC during a period of racial tension, locally and nationally.  “Students were being expelled from school during this period of unrest and in retaliation four male students were found guilty of bombing the phys. ed. building,” he recalled.  “It was a particularly difficult time, but (longtime BSC chemistry professor) Isaac Robinson provided me with some wonderful guidance.  I learned at that time just how important a great teacher can be.”

Following his graduation from BSC, Oakes earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Penn State University and an MBA from Stanford University.  “The education at Stanford opened the world to me,” he said.  He reemphasized the importance of lifelong learning.  Traveling extensively on an international basis, he came to realize that, “In America, you can be born poor, but with an education you don’t have to live poor and die poor.  Don’t take your education for granted.  Most people in the world want the opportunity that you have.”

Oakes is founder and president of Oakes Management, Inc. in Washington, DC and he serves as a real estate manager, investor, and consultant.  He is also an officer and member of the Board of Directors/West Virginia Access Center for Higher Education.  He has 11 years’ teaching experience at the college level and two years’ experience training adults for responsibilities with the U.S. Department of the Interior.