Coalgate GEAR UP students tour East Central University

Eighty-one GEAR UP students from Coalgate recently traveled to Ada to tour the campus of ECU (East Central University). The seventh and eighth grade students were greeted by Admissions Recruiter Alyson Chapman inside the Bill S. Cole University Center. Chapman, a Coalgate alumnus, gave a brief overview of collegiate life at ECU and the benefits of attending a smaller university located close to home. She stated that 50 percent of ECU’s students graduate debt free and explained the importance of financial aid.

Chapman, along with fellow recruiters Claudio Harvey, Kelsey Miller, Abi Linares, and Sidney Lyons led students on walking tours of the campus. Students visited several of the classroom buildings on campus such as the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center which houses the Department of Art, Communication & Performance Studies program, Mass Communication Program, and Music Program. The building opened in 2009 and offers classroom space, two theatres, an art gallery, an outdoor sculpture garden, a TV studio, and a photography studio. While in the Fine Arts Center, students toured painting studios observing student artists at work and inspected the 1,089 seat Ataloa theater used for music and speaking events.

During the tours, students were introduced to dorm life, admissions procedures, and student activities. The recruiters answered the middle school students’ questions concerning expenses, scholarships, and academic majors and encouraged them to begin as seventh and eighth graders studying and planning for life after high school. “Be careful what you post on social media,” advised Chapman. “The University can take that into consideration along with your grades.”

Before returning to the Estep Room, students toured the University Center’s workout center, gym, game room, and café. ECU provides a variety of free activities for their college students in an effort to engage them socially as well as academically. The guides encouraged the students to become involved in campus life and take advantage of the free opportunities.

The tour concluded with a question and answer session led by Chapman. The students listened intently as she discussed the availability of scholarships, grants, and loans. She also addressed living on campus, different type of dormitories, and meal plans. Students requested information concerning degree options and athletic opportunities that ECU offers.

“Hearing the students ask questions is exciting,” commented Educational Coordinator Denise Lovell. “For many of them, this is their first college tour, and they are excited to know that college is a possibility for them!”

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


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