Porum eighth graders tour Rogers State University and Will Rogers Memorial Museum

Forty-one Porum GEAR UP students recently visited RSU (Rogers State University) and the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore.

Students began the morning at Rogers State University inside Markum Hall where the Admission office is located. Campus Visits & Events Coordinator Addison Murray welcomed students to RSU. She began her welcome with a short presentation titled “College Prep,” an overview of things to know that can help students plan and prepare for after high school. Students gained an idea of the admissions process as well as resources available to help with the transition from high school to college. The presentation also covered the cost of attendance at RSU. Murray explained the options available to help pay for college such as RaiseMe. RaiseMe is a site where students can earn micro-scholarships for colleges for achievements as early as ninth grade. Achievements include semester grades on report cards, volunteer hours, and activities. This unique site helps students who often fall through the cracks of large scholarship opportunities.

When the tour began, students ventured through the beautiful campus starting in the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center. Students wandered past the campus bookstore, Office of Student Affairs, Career Services, as well as coffee and dining options. Next students walked through Baird Hall which houses the Fine Arts and Communication departments. There are numerous classrooms in this building, and Murray assured students class sizes are small enough the professor will know each student. Class sizes are approximately 19:1. There is also an art gallery in Baird Hall for RSU students to display their works.

Students learned about programs offered at RSU like nursing and EMT certification. The Health Sciences Building houses labs for students to get hands-on training and experience before heading out into the workforce as a health professional. Students viewed the labs and even the full-size EMSA (Emergency Medical Services Authority) inside the lab. A favorite stop on the tour was in Herrington Hall which houses the eSports team and eSports lab at RSU. This is a relatively new sport to the collegiate scene, and RSU is the first university in Oklahoma to have an eSports facility. The program is designed to create game developers and technology savvy students to build future technology advancements. Students met the RSU eSports coach Blake Fisher. Coach Fisher explained his journey from high school to a professional working in this up and coming field.

Lastly, students strolled through the University Village Clubhouse and a few model dorm rooms. The dorm setup at RSU is similar to an apartment complex. There is a clubhouse with a kitchen, media room, mailboxes and resident advisors. There are three residence buildings around the clubhouse where dorm rooms are located. The dorms are modern, large, and secure. For safety, RSU students have card access but only to the dorm building in which they live. Students saw inside three similar dorm rooms—each with two twin beds, two closet areas, two desks, and a sink area to share. After the tour, students ate lunch on campus with college students.

“RSU is a wonderful college option for many of these students,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo. “They are starting to really understand the scope of college and preparing for the future ahead.”

After lunch, students traveled to the Will Rogers Memorial Museum where Andy Hogan, Historical Guide and Interpreter, welcomed the group. There was a beautiful and elaborate mural that showcased Rogers’ accomplishment for students to explore. Hogan put on a very entertaining recap of the life of Will Rogers. Dressed like a true cowboy, Hogan lassoed students while moving through the timeline of Rogers’ life. Rogers was the youngest of eight children. After high school, he traveled with a Wild West Show around the world. He came back to Oolagah to visit family and met his future wife, Betty Blake. He chased her for eight years. After they were married, they moved to California.

Upon moving to California, he started his career in movies, newspaper, and radio. Will Rogers was featured in 50 silent and 21 talking films. He often joked about politics and politicians. His newspaper articles were far reaching, and he became very well known for his work.

Unfortunately, his life was cut short in a plane crash where he died in 1935. After his death, his widow donated land the family owned in Claremore, where the Memorial Museum and Birthplace Ranch are now located. After the presentation, students explored the museum further with a scavenger hunt designed for student groups. The Will Rogers Memorial Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Will Rogers memorabilia and his entire collection of writings.

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 received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and serves over 3,000 students in 39 area schools.

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