Bokoshe GEAR UP students tour Carl Albert State College and the University of Arkansas, Ft. Smith

Twenty–four Bokoshe seventh and eighth grade GEAR UP students recently toured Carl Albert State College in Poteau and the University of Arkansas campus in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The tour began in Hemphill Hall at Carl Albert State College (CASC). CASC Student Ambassador and Recruiter Hunter Sisemore greeted the students and introduced them to CASC Student Ambassadors Gloria Evans and D’Karre Lynch. Evans and Lynch explained that Hemphill Hall would become very familiar to future students because it contains the Office of Admissions, Business Office, Financial Aid, Student Affairs, Student Success Center, and Educational Opportunity Center (EOC).

The next stop was the Thompson Fitness Center and Viking Field House. Ambassadors explained that students can go to the gym to play basketball and use exercise equipment to stay in shape during their time at CASC.

Students walked by The Joe E. White Library where college students go to study, use computers, and print papers as needed. Students were shown the apartment–style freshman dormitories. There are various scholarships—such as the Scholars Program—which assist with housing costs. Students walked across the CASC campus and saw various buildings including the Hamilton Auditorium, Ollie Center for Academic Excellence, Deanna J. Reed Center for Science and Math, and the Costner–Balentine Student Center which houses the CASC bookstore, cafeteria and workout facilities.

Evans discussed the various business courses and career fairs students may attend in the F. L. Holton Business Center. The tour ended with a quick pop quiz about the tour. One of the questions was about the history of CASC. Carl Albert State College was first known as Poteau Junior College, and in the 1950s it was changed to Poteau Community College. It wasn’t until 1971 that it became Carl Albert Junior College in honor of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1990, the name was changed to Carl Albert State College.

After touring CASC, Bokoshe students made their way to the University of Arkansas, Fort Smith (UAFS). Tour guides Asher Parvu and Anna Parvu introduced them to the University of Arkansas, Fort Smith where Bokoshe students were excited to learn that Oklahoma residents are not charged out–of–state tuition when they attend UAFS.

Students were divided into two groups to tour the beautiful campus. The tour began in the Lion’s Den Dining Hall where Bokoshe students experienced lunch as a college student. The Lion’s Den has the newest student housing on campus. The dorm rooms are spacious and can accommodate up to four students per suite. The dorms feature convenient gathering lobbies, mail service, security, and laundry room that is connected to an app for students to check to see when their laundry cycle is complete.

Directly across Kinkead Avenue from the Lion’s Den is the Windgate Art and Design Building. The building includes a letterpress and printmaking studio, a film theater, a videography and photography studio, and numerous classrooms and professional–quality artistic spaces. Students enrolled in the classes offered in the Windgate Building are treated to the newest and most up–to–date equipment available. The walking tour featured such sites as the Fullerton Administration Building and the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center where students can receive dental care for a small fee.

Bokoshe students enjoyed the Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower and Campus Green. an outdoor area that plays host for many student activities and gatherings. The amphitheater can also be used as an outdoor classroom. The Boreham Library is next to the Amphitheatre. The library features state–of–the–art research and study databases. Students have access to high tech study aides and to tutoring on an “as needed” basis.

“My favorite comment of the day was hearing ‘I think I want to go to college now!’ from Bokoshe eighth grade student, Adam Justice,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Bethany Hicks. “College tours are an important part of Eastern’s GEAR UP program as they give students a firsthand look at life as a college student.”

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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