Pittsburg GEAR UP students tour East Central University

Thirteen GEAR UP students from Pittsburg Public School recently traveled to Ada to tour East Central University(ECU). The seventh and eighth grade students were met by Admission Recruiter Claudio Harvey who escorted them to the Estep Room inside the Bill S. Cole University Center. After a brief overview of ECU and student life, Harvey led the students on a tour of the campus.

Students began the tour in the University Center which houses the intramural gym, workout center, swimming pool, and cinema as well as a small café and study area. Harvey informed the students that ECU provides a variety of activities for their students in an effort to engage them socially as well as academically. Students have free access to the facilities at the University Center and are also provided with special events such as Glow in the Dark Mini Golf and Freebie Friday.

The tour continued with a visit to the Student Union where the GEAR UP students were introduced to the Wellness Center, the bookstore, cafeteria, and dormitories. Harvey explained processes such as buying books, scheduling classes, and visiting the campus doctor. He also pointed out that living on campus allows for easy access to the cafeteria and encourages classroom attendance and promptness.

Next, students proceeded to explore the buildings on the East Central campus which house various programs offered by the university such as the Science Hall, Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center and the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center. Students listened carefully as Harvey discussed the ECU School of Nursing which prepares graduates to practice professional nursing in a variety of settings in rural, as well as urban, Oklahoma. Students have access to state-of-the-art equipment including lifelike mannequins that respond to treatment much like a real patient.

While touring the Hallie Brown Fine Arts Center, students visited the Native America art gallery, the recording studios, the instrumental and vocal rooms and the backstage of the Ataloa Theater. Harvey stated that the university hosted a variety of concerts and events performed by students, faculty and famous guests such as actress Molly Ringwald and Harry Potter actor, Daniel Radcliffe.

The tour concluded with a visit to the petrified tree located at the entrance to the campus. The Callixylon tree is a 250,000,000-year-old petrified tree stump discovered by John Fitts in a field in 1913. For twenty-three years, the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and ECU were vying for possession of the tree. However, the tree was given to East Central as a gift and memorial, and was formally accepted by the university in 1936.

GEAR UP students finished the day by enjoying a meal in ECU’s Taff Cafeteria where they were treated to lunch with the college students.

“The middle school students were so excited to experience college life,” remarked GEAR UP Education Coordinator Denise Lovell. “What a great opportunity to help our students dream big as they plan for the future.”

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College’s GEAR UP program. 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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