Get-To-Know a Broncho

Zahra Khalili, Administrative Asst III, Adult Education & Safety Science

Zahra Khalili and her grandkids

What is your background? 

I’m originally from Iran but have spent most of my life in America, specifically Oklahoma. My husband and I moved to Oklahoma a long time ago (I’ll spare you the exact year) to pursue our dreams of going to college. Eventually we went on to earn our master’s degrees as well. Mine was in Guidance and Counseling and later I also earned my MBA. The majority of my career has always been in the field of education. I started as Student Advisor for a fellow university in Oklahoma and could never see myself in a different field. Today I am proud to say I’ve been working for UCO for 16 years as the Administrative Assistant of the Adult Education and Safety Sciences Department.

Tell me how you first got involved at UCO.  

My husband received his master’s degree here at UCO. Being the spouse of a former UCO graduate, I always knew how much this wonderful place had to offer. I wanted to be part of an education system where I knew I was making a difference in the lives of our students and, after taking on a few non-education-based roles, I knew I needed to return to my true passion. I was lucky enough to land the role I’m in today, and even fulfilled my dream of teaching a class as well. This university has shown me time and time again how much it values its students and faculty and I’m forever grateful to call myself a Broncho!

What would you say your strongest beliefs are about your contributions to the university?

If you ask any of my kids, they will tell you I’m a huge advocate for higher education and believe it’s something no one can ever take away from you. I strive every day to help our students reach their educational goals. Even when times were really tough (hello Covid), I wanted to do my part in making sure our course offerings continued. I knew how many students, many from countries abroad, were here chasing their dreams as I once did. I did not want them to give up, which in turn meant I couldn’t give up either. I’m happy we’re in a much better place today and our students can be proud of what they’ve accomplished.

What do you do when you are not working? 

I’ve been blessed with a husband, three children and four beautiful grandchildren. When I’m not working, you can find me playing with my grandkids, cooking their favorite meals and spoiling them rotten! I also have quite the green thumb and love the backyard I’ve created. It makes for a great view during our many family dinners.

Buddy Broncho made his first appearance in UCO's own newspaper The Vista. It was the October 3, 1932, issue where a Broncho appears wearing a UCO football uniform. He has appeared numerous times throughout the years from local Edmond papers in the 60's to state-wide papers in the 80's. The commissioning of the first ever live mascot appears in UCO's 1979 Bronze Book where Buddy Broncho made his first public appearance at Homecoming. Since that time, Buddy has been a fixture at UCO events and in the hearts of UCO students.