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 Joseph Thomas, a freshman from Montgomery, AL majoring in Business Administration and Allyson Woods, a sophomore from McKinney, TX majoring in Communications. Eufaula students had an inside look at ORU’s campus and learned about programs and resources available for attendees.

After a quick welcome at the Global Learning Center, ambassadors led students to the Graduate Center (GC). The GC houses various programs such as nursing, business, education and some of the medical courses. Students had a brief moment to relax in the “Study Pit” before continuing to explore campus. Students walked through the “Hall of Mirrors,” a literal hallway of mirrors connecting the GC to the Learning Resource Center (LRC). The “Hall of Mirrors” is designed to remind students they were created in the image of God and to walk in their daily lives from the example He left. In the LRC, they learned about the campus library, bookstore, various dining establishments and Student Success & Retention office. This office is specifically designed to help ORU students stay on track to graduate on time with the major they chose. ORU students meet with “success coaches” each week to discuss progress and any obstacles they may be facing. The coaches serve as extra support as students navigate being away from home and being staying on track with their academics.

Next, students ventured outside to view one of the three Eternal Flames that have been burning since campus was established in 1963. Much of campus is a representation of something biblical and the flames represent the Holy Trinity. It has never gone out despite the weather conditions. Another flame is burning on top of the Prayer Tower, which is located in the central part of campus. Students walked through the Prayer Garden on their way to the Prayer Tower. Both the garden and the tower are not used for any formal events, but as a quiet space for students to work, reflect and pray. 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 excited to go inside one of the private prayer rooms downstairs and learn more about Oral Roberts’ mission when opening ORU.

Eufaula students were then led inside the Armand Hammer Alumni-Student Center. This is a known 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. Campus was decorated for the holidays and students were able to take a photo with the Christmas tree in the lobby. The Student Center also houses various games such as air hockey tables, billiards, gaming console stations and computers as well as two dining options and seating to enjoy the meals.

“As the stress of school and the holidays are approaching it’s neat that ORU has designated space for recreation and relaxation,” said Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo.

An important part of any college going experience is the dormitory and living facilities on campus. Students saw inside Claudius Priscilla Roberts Hall, an underclassmen, female dormitory. Each room in this building comes with bunk beds that can be un-bunked if they wanted to rearrange the room, 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 Advisor (RA) to support students throughout the college experience. Most Eufaula students didn’t know the duties of an RA or the Chaplin. Woods explained how the RA helps with technical stuff life a malfunctioning fridge or locking your key inside your room and the Chaplin helps with the personal things like being homesick or stress of a low grade in class.

Lastly, students wandered to Timko-Barton Music Hall where performance majors take most of their classes. This was the first building when campus was established in 1963 and was originally the Graduate Center. After it was converted to the Music Hall, a Music Library was added where ORU students can check out music for free. Students in the programs also can present music pieces in the Performance Hall inside the building for instructors and classmates. Anyone interested in joining the program can be involved in vocal, instrumental, band, orchestra, dance or theatre. To add to the college experience at the end of the tour, students were led to the Hamill Center where they ate and all-you-can-eat 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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