GEAR UP Students Travel Across Oklahoma for Extraordinary Tours

Seventy-five students, parents and guardians recently participated in a charter bus trip across Oklahoma known as GEAR UP Tour of Oklahoma. The trip was sponsored by EOSC GEAR UP (Eastern Oklahoma State College Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), and allowed partner schools’ students and their parents or guardians to tour colleges and universities they would not typically visit, the Oklahoma Aviation Flight School, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Partner schools represented were Cameron, Clayton, Eufaula, Haileyville, Hartshorne, Howe, Indianola, Keota, McAlester, Panama, Pittsburg, Poteau, Savanna, Wilburton and Wister Public Schools. The tour began at EOSC in Wilburton. Participants toured the campus and learned about programs and opportunities their local community college has to offer. EOSC is well-known for its athletic programs, agricultural division, and top-ranked nursing program. EOSC also offers classes at three other locations, making it accessible to many students in the southeast region of the state.   Participants visited UCO (University of Central Oklahoma) in Edmond, which is the third-largest public university in Oklahoma with 122 undergraduate programs and 78 graduate programs. One unique UCO program learned about was forensic science for students seeking a law enforcement career in crime scene processing and reconstruction, fingerprint analysis, forensic psychology, or Federal Special Agent. Groups also traveled to Lawton to visit Cameron University, which offers more than 50 degrees through two-year, four-year, and graduate programs. The degree programs emphasize liberal arts, science and technology. Cameron University was ranked in U.S. News’ 2021 Best Colleges in the Regional Universities West category.   During the tour of USAO (University of Science and Arts) in Chickasha, participants learned it is the only public college in Oklahoma with a strictly liberal arts-focused curriculum. It also is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, a consortium that advances the aims of its member institutions and drives awareness of the value of public liberal arts education. USAO is an undergraduate-only institution, and grants bachelor’s degrees in 22 majors and several pre-professional programs.   Participants visited OBU (Oklahoma Baptist University), a private, Christian, liberal arts university in Shawnee. OBU has more than 10 bachelor’s degrees in 88 areas of study. OBU has a total of 33 National Championships in various men’s and women’s athletic programs, and is known to be one of the most academically rigorous universities in the state.   At the Oklahoma Aviation Flight School, participants learned about different careers in aviation, such as aerospace engineer, aircraft mechanic and technician, pilot, and flight attendant. Aviation is ranked as one of Oklahoma’s fastest-growing career fields.   Groups also explored the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, which was created to remember and honor those impacted by the April 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. Participants were given a glimpse into an emotional piece of Oklahoma history. The purpose of the trip was to inspire students as well as parents and guardians to start thinking about the steps after high school as well as provide a deeper understanding of the various and unique degree programs colleges and universities have to offer throughout the state. The trip also allowed participants to get a first-hand experience at visiting colleges and universities they may never have the opportunity to visit before high school graduation. EOSC received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant in 2017, and will serve more than 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

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