Twenty-four seventh grade GEAR UP students from Canadian 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, a sophomore from Texas majoring in Environmental Sustainability and Riley Kempker, a sophomore from Iowa majoring in Ministry and Leadership. Canadian 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 (GLC). Woods explained to students the resources and activities in the GLC. It has a virtual reality room where ORU students can explore oceans or even inside the human body for a unique learning experience. 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. Kempker took time to explain how ORU students are able to purchase things on campus and gain access to various buildings using their “Eagle Card.”
Next students went up into the Prayer Tower. This uniquely-shaped building resembles a crown outlined in gold with red on the underside. The gold is symbolic of a crown and the red represents the blood shed when Christ was crucified. Canadian students saw an aerial view of ORU’s campus and the Tulsa area. The top of the tower has one of two “Eternal Flames” on campus burning. It has been burning, without interruption, since the campus was built in 1963. The area surrounding the tower is known as the Prayer Garden. This is a beautiful outdoor space where students can study independently, gather for events or just reflect on the day.
ORU guides then led students inside the Armand Hammer Alumni-Student Center, 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 a watch party for the recent mid-term elections. It also houses numerous dining establishments, air hockey tables, billiard, gaming console stations and computers. Students saw the outdoor Fire Pit where devotionals and other student gatherings are held. Kempker explained that ORU is a school that focuses on the mind, body and spirit. While the classroom fuels the mind and there are spiritual activities on campus, they still are required to take care of the body. Students at this university take physical education each semester. They are required to wear a Fitbit and get at least 10,000 steps per day. They can also take actual PE courses like golf or horse-back riding for credit.
Canadian students explored campus and paused outside the Hamill Center and Ellis Melvin Roberts Hall (EMR) where male freshmen reside. Woods explained where freshmen live and how the dorms are set up. The second floor of the Hamill Center is where the large campus cafeteria is located. She pointed out that downstairs in the Hamill Center there are other dining options such as a Chick-fil-A. The Student Health Center, Campus Security and Post Office are also located on the first floor under the cafeteria.
Lastly, students ventured through the Timko Barton Music Hall where classes in the arts are located. They stopped for a quick group picture in front of Howard Auditorium where many of the art productions are held on campus. Kempker explained that ORU has had ten years of consecutive growth, and they are building new, apartment style, dorm on campus.
“I learn something new each time I visit the ORU campus,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo. “They have so much to offer and it’s awesome to expose students to the various post-secondary options available to them.”
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.