Thirty-five eighth grade 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 Ambassador Joseph Thomas, a freshman from Montgomery, AL majoring in Business Administration. Canadian students had a detailed tour of the beautiful campus and learned about the various programs ORU offers.
The tour began inside ORU’s Global Learning Center. Thomas explained that most computer-related courses are offered in this building such as IT and Graphic Design. ORU has a unique Virtual Reality (VR) program where students gain experience in all majors. An anatomy student can use the VR program to dissect an eyeball; an astronomy student can travel to Mars; or a business student can go behind the counter at various businesses and practice management. Next, he led students to the Graduate Center/Learning Resource Center. Most of the classrooms are in the Graduate Center which has seven identical floors. Each one has a “study pit” where ORU students can sit in a comfortable, quiet environment to study or work on assignments. The “Hall of Mirrors” is the hallway connecting the Graduate Center to the Learning Resource Center. The hall is a reminder to students when they pass through that they are created in the image of God and to reflect his teachings in themselves. The Learning Resource Center houses the campus library, Student Success and Retention Office, bookstore and various dining establishments.
Next, students ventured outside to see the “Eternal Flame.” Much of campus is a representation of something biblical and the flame symbolizes the Holy Trinity. Students then traveled to the Armand Hammer Alumni-Student Center. They had a walk-through tour to see the various free recreational opportunities available. The main room features four huge, flat screen televisions with a lounge area. Students can check out headphones for the different screens as well as equipment for the air hockey tables, billiard, gaming console stations and computers. Students looked at the outdoor Fire Pit where devotionals and other student gatherings are held. From here, they viewed the athletic facilities including the track, Aerobics Center, baseball field and soccer field. Thomas explained each ORU student wears a Fitbit and their physical activity is tracked for a grade. This is a requirement at ORU since they focus on educating the mind, body and spirit.
They also saw inside of Susie Vinson Hall. This is female upperclassmen housing. Students were able to tour a model dorm room and were surprised at how large it was. Each room sleeps two, the furniture is moveable and students who live there have access to free cable, WiFi and laundry machines. Each room is also equipped with a free mini fridge and microwave. Many of the dorm residents were excited for the Lighting Ceremony being held to illuminate the Prayer Garden and Prayer Tower with lights for the Christmas season.
As students passed by the International Student Center and made their way to Timko-Barton Music Hall, Thomas mentioned how there are 106 nations represented in the student body at ORU. Timko-Barton Music Hall was originally the Graduate Center in 1963 when campus was first built. There is an echo in the lobby which is not ideal for a music hall. They are making renovations and upgrading the classrooms to be sound proof. There are also recording studios and instrument lockers in this building.
“ORU offers a wonderful tour experience,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo, “The students are excited about their future options after a visit like this and we must inform and encourage them to follow those goals.”
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.