Porum GEAR UP eighth graders tour Oral Roberts University

Thirty-five eighth grade Porum GEAR UP students recently traveled to Tulsa to visit Oral Roberts University (ORU). Students began the morning by participating in a guided tour at ORU led by Student Ambassadors Jordan Rollinson (a sophomore from Fort Worth, TX majoring in Government) and Joseph Thomas (a freshman from Montgomery, AL majoring in Business Administration). Students saw numerous buildings and learned about various programs on campus.

Students began the tour at ORU’s Global Learning Center where student ambassadors met students inside on this unusually chilly day to welcome them to campus. They ventured across campus to the Graduate Center. There are seven identical floors in this building. Various program classrooms are housed here and each floor has a “Study Pit” where ORU students can find a comfortable, quiet spot to get some reading or other independent work done. Attached to the Graduate Center is the Learning Resource Center (LRC). The LRC houses the campus library, bookstore, and various dining establishments. The covered area just outside the building has numerous symbolic pieces like one of the Eternal Flames on campus, which represents the Holy Spirit and a Dove figure on the ceiling. The architecture of ORU’s campus is unique and resembles much of what Oral Roberts represents.

Next, students toured Christ’s Chapel, which is large and shaped like a tent. It is shaped like a tent because Oral Roberts started his ministry conducting tent revivals. Students went inside the Chapel and saw where classes are held and the symbolism within the building. All freshmen take a course held in the Chapel called Spirit Empowered that is all about why they believe the way they do. Rollinson shared that this course helped him grow in his faith because it allowed him to define and deepen his relationship with Christ.

Students who are interested in music were excited to visit Timko-Barton Music Hall. Thomas highlighted how students have to audition to be a part of the music program. They must know music notes, write music and play an instrument to graduate from the program. The building hosts classrooms as well as recording studios and a Music Library. As the tour group wandered through campus, Rollinson showed students the Hamill Center where the cafeteria, Campus Security, Post Office and Health Services are located. Students viewed a model dorm room in Claudius Priscilla Roberts Hall, a freshman female residence hall. Rooms are set up with bunk beds, two closet spaces, two desks, a mini fridge, a microwave, free WiFi and free laundry in the building.

The tour wound around the beautiful Prayer Garden leading to the Prayer Tower. Porum students went inside the tower where they learned more about the history of the structure and Oral Roberts’ mission. Rollinson explained how Oral Roberts and the professors used to frequent the tower to pray for anyone and everyone who had a prayer request. They would pray for those on campus but also received numerous letters and calls with other prayer requests to include in their prayers. The tower is lined with Bible verses and quotes from Oral Roberts himself. ORU recently celebrated homecoming weekend where alumni from all around the world returned to visit campus, reconnect and celebrate. Rollinson said the tower was full of alumni reminiscing on how much campus has changed and how the Prayer Tower was an important, memorable spot for them on campus.

The tour ended at the Hamill Center where Porum students ate lunch in the Cafeteria with ORU students. Joseph explained “Eagle Bucks” and the ORU student “Eagle Cards.” Students can load the cards and spend them like a gift card around campus. The cafeteria had numerous “all you can eat” meal options for Porum students. They left informed and satisfied.

“ORU is a beautiful campus with many opportunities for students to learn more about themselves and how to become a global citizen,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo. “Students enjoyed the tour and the impressive campus.”

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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