After 40 years, musician attends UCO for rock-solid education in drug counseling

Kyle Batt

(Offical UCO Photo/Provided.)

Certain obstacles can make returning to school feel even more difficult than just time passing, and addiction can become a major obstacle in just about anyone’s life. 

Mark Pyburn underwent addiction treatment, and thanks to a program providing tuition to students with disabilities including diagnosed addiction, is able to return to school while having his tuition paid. Having just finished his first summer class at UCO, Pyburn was excited to have the opportunity before him. 

“I’m pleased as punch to be here,” Pyburn said of returning to college. “It felt good to step on a college campus and not be a college dropout anymore.”

Pyburn accrued around 20 hours of college credit at the University of North Texas in Denton in the early 1980s, but was called away by the allure of money and fame, performing as a vocalist for a variety of bands in Los Angeles. Despite leaving to pursue the life of a rock star, there was still a nagging in the back of Pyburn’s mind. 

 “I’ve sort of regretted it looking back,” Pyburn said of leaving college. 

After nearly 40 years, Pyburn’s return to a college campus is driven by his goal to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor to aid others in their struggles with addiction. 

Despite being excited to return to school, Pyburn knows that it will require hard work and discipline on his part to stay on track. 

“You have to teach yourself not to procrastinate and get stuff done early,” Pyburn said of staying on top of classes. “It takes a lot of work.” 

Although he is maintaining focus and teaching himself new habits when it comes to studying, Pyburn’s enthusiasm shines through when he discusses his first summer class. 

“Everyone was so encouraging,” he said. His first class was a speech class and that contributed to him being able to share his experience with his classmates. Even though he enjoyed the class overall, he did note that he feels that in-person classes would be his preference over online classes. 

Though there might still be some adjustments to make for Pyburn when it comes to technology in the classroom, the dedication and enthusiasm he has for pursuing his goals radiates in his voice. Pyburn has faced down challenges before and is no stranger to achieving goals. 

Next week, The Vista will explore Pyburn’s recovery and the process he went through in order to return to school and pursue his goals.

Share This