Ninety-eight GEAR UP students from McCall Middle School in Atoka recently traveled to Ada to tour East Central University (ECU). The seventh and eighth grade students and their teachers began the day in the Estep Room inside the Bill S. Cole University Center. After a brief introduction, Admissions Recruiter Alyson Chapman provided a brief overview of ECU and campus life. Chapman encouraged the students to begin planning now for college admission by building a portfolio, maintaining good grades, and monitoring their social media accounts.
Students were divided into four groups which were led by Chapman, her colleague Claudio Harvey, and student ambassadors Ruth Herman and Chandler Wilson. Each group was given a walking tour of the campus and learned about the programs offered by the University.
The seventh grade boys began their tour in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center where they saw the Native American gallery and other works of art. Herman asked the students to guess the oldest piece of art found in ECU’s permanent collection of art including works by Salvador Dali and Francisco Goya. Students were surprised to find that the oldest piece was dated around 3000 BC.
Another stop on the students’ tour was one of the oldest buildings on campus, the Horace Mann Building. The original building housed the teacher training school until its discontinuation in 1960 and is currently home to the departments of English, history, political science, human resources, and geography. Chapman explained to the 7th grade girls that most of the freshman and sophomore classes are conveniently located in Horace Mann for the new students.
Under the guidance of Claudio Harvey, the eighth grade boys learned about the variety of programs offered at East Central. Harvey questioned the young men regarding their future plans and discussed utilizing ECU as a foundation for their pathways to medical, law, or engineering schools. He explained that the cost and the small class size can provide better placement upon graduation from ECU.
After touring the campus, the eighth grade girls were led back to the University Center where they explored the many activities that are available to the students at no cost. Students can participate in intramural sports, workout in the weight room, play billiards and other games, or just relax at the small café. The university offers activities which will help the students build social skills in addition to pursuing their academic skills.
The final stop on the tour was lunch in the ECU Taff Cafeteria. The middle school students enjoyed the buffet style meal and tried to formulate a plan to bring the style and quality of food to their own school. Eighth grader Noah Sherrill asked if the cafeteria was open to the public and stated that he definitely would be returning.
“East Central recruiters provided a great tour for our students,” remarked GEAR UP Education Coordinator Denise Lovell. “For many of our students, this was their first glimpse into the collegiate world and they were definitely excited about their future plans.”
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.