Eufaula GEAR UP seventh graders tour Oral Roberts University

Forty-four GEAR UP students recently traveled to Tulsa to tour Oral Roberts University (ORU). Students began the morning by participating in a guided tour at ORU led by Student Ambassadors Allyson Woods majoring in Environmental Sustainability and Joseph Thomas, a freshman from Montgomery, AL who just changed his major to Business Administration. Eufaula students saw numerous buildings, met ORU students and learned about various programs ORU offers.

Students began the tour in front of the rotating globe at ORU’s Global Learning Center. Ambassadors led students to the Graduate Center, which is a hub of activity. This building houses the campus library, bookstore, various dining establishments and classrooms. Students got a brief moment to relax in the “Study Pit” before continuing to explore campus. Student ambassadors pointed out a valuable office in this building for student success—the Student Success and Retention Center. The staff works with students to help them overcome obstacles that may have become barriers to their success at the university.  They not only partner with students to ensure their academic success, but help to create solutions that allow students to remain on campus.  Each ORU student is required to meet with a success coach weekly to review progress and struggles.

Next, students ventured outside to the “Eternal Flame.” Much of campus is a representation of something biblical and the flame symbolizes the Holy Trinity. Twelve small waterfalls pour off the backside of the flame representing the 12 Disciples. Student ambassadors then took students to the Prayer Tour, a focal point on campus. Students were able to view one of the Prayer rooms downstairs and go up into the space needle like facility to get an aerial view of campus and Tulsa. There were many historical facts and photos lining the walls in this building including the school’s Vision and Mission Statement.

Both groups saw inside the Armand Hammer Alumni-Student Center. This is known as a recreational space for ORU students. The main room features four huge, flat screen televisions with a lounge area. This is a great space for the televised athletic events or movie nights hosted on campus. It also houses air hockey tables, billiard, gaming console stations and computers. Students got a look at the outdoor Fire Pit where devotionals and other student gatherings are held. From here, they had a view of the athletic facilities including the track, Aerobics Center, baseball field and soccer field.

They also saw the outside of Susie Vinson Hall. This is senior housing where the Student Ambassador pointed out the top of the building is shaped like the Star of David. Campus housing sleeps two students per room and includes Wifi, cable, a microwave, a mini fridge, free laundry and access to a Fitness Center in the building. There is also an Aerobics Center with an indoor track, weights and swimming pool for student athletes to use. ORU takes student health very seriously. Students were surprised to learn that as a Health/Physical Education course grade, all students are required to wear a Fitbit and walk at least 10,000 steps each day, reach a certain heartrate goal, and pass a swim test before they can graduate.

Students had many questions for the student ambassadors such as what type of majors the university offers, if freshmen are required to stay in the dorms, and how ORU students pay for things on campus.

Eufaula student Lane Holmes asked, “Do you had to be a certain religion to attend ORU?” The answer was no. All religions are accepted and welcomed at ORU. Lane also said he “liked the pool tables and recreational options in the Armand Hammer Alumni-Student Center.”

Lastly students ventured past the International Student Learning Center where over 100 nations are represented on campus. Eufaula students met an international student from Uganda, Africa. Samuel is a freshman who is majoring in Electrical Engineering. He said he decided to come to ORU because he loves the Christian faith. Students asked how often he goes back home to see family. He said only in the summer time.

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. In 2017, Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

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