Eufaula GEAR UP eighth graders tour Oral Roberts University

Thirty-five 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 (a sophomore from McKinney, TX who just changed her major to Communications) and Joseph Thomas (a freshman from Montgomery, AL majoring in Business Administration). Eufaula students saw numerous buildings, met ORU students and learned about various programs ORU offers.

Students started in front of the rotating globe at ORU’s Global Learning Center (GLC). The GLC houses many of the technology programs and classes. There is a Virtual Reality lab in this building where ORU students can explore the depths of the ocean and far reaches of the galaxy. Ambassadors led students to the Graduate Center (GC) and Learning Resource Center (LRC). This building houses the campus library, bookstore, various dining establishments and classrooms. A unique space to in the GC is the ONEOK Executive Boardroom (aka the ONEOK Shark Tank) where business students can present their ideas to area businesses and network for future career possibilities. The room is set up with a conference table and presentation area. When ORU students are presenting their ideas the glass on the outside fogs up providing more privacy for the meeting. Students got a brief moment to relax in the “Study Pit” before continuing to explore campus.

Next, students ventured outside to view the “Eternal Flame.” Much of campus is a representation of something biblical and the flame symbolizes the Holy Trinity. This flame is one of two flames that have been burning continuously since 1963 when the campus was established. It has never gone out despite the weather conditions. The other flame is burning on top of the Prayer Tower, which is located in the central part of campus. Student ambassadors then took students inside the Prayer Tower to explore why Oral Roberts put this on campus and the importance of praying for others. Students were able to view one of the private 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.

Eufaula students were led 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. They host movie nights each week where all four screens are put together to create one huge screen and students can sit in the lounge to view the show or the karaoke nights for students to showcase their vocal talents and have fun. It also houses air hockey tables, billiards, gaming console stations and computers as well as two dining options and seating to enjoy the meals. There is a special library on the second floor of the Student Center, which houses books and publications written by ORU Alumni.

“It’s neat to know that so many ORU graduates are published authors and are contributing to the community through science, history and other academics,” said Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo.

They also saw a dorm room in Claudius Priscilla Roberts Hall. The show room was a basic typical college dorm room but students were surprised at the large size of the space. There were bunk beds that can be un-bunked if they wanted to rearrange the room. All 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. Each floor has a Chaplin and Resident Advisory to support students throughout the college experience. Woods stated how she’s made so many new friends and gained a support system here since she’s so far away from home. 

Lastly, students ventured to the Timko-Barton Music Hall where performance majors take most of their classes. This building was originally built as ORU’s Graduate Center but has since been converted as campus is constantly growing. There is a Music Performance Hall in the building along with a special Music Library. Anyone interested in joining the program can be involved in vocal, instrumental, band, orchestra, dance or theatre. There is also an auditorium behind the building, Howard Auditorium, where the larger performances are held like dance and theatrical productions. To add to the campus experience at the end of the tour students were led to the Hamill Center where they ate lunch on in the campus cafeteria with college students.

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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