Eufaula GEAR UP Students Tour East Central University

One hundred one Eufaula High School 11th and 12th-grade GEAR UP students recently toured East Central University (ECU) in Ada, Oklahoma. Students began their day in the Estep Room inside the Bill S. Cole University Center with a brief introduction to ECU and collegiate life given by Ashlee Heck, Director of Admissions and Recruitment. Heck was accompanied by lead recruiter Shundiin Bohan, recruiter Libby Tomlin, and current student workers at ECU, who introduced themselves to the students and what programs they are a part of. Heck gave a brief overview of programs offered on campus, the admissions process, scholarship opportunities, student organizations, and student resources.

After the presentation, students were divided into groups and led on a walking tour of the campus. The tour began in the University Center, which houses the intramural gym, workout rooms, swimming pool, cinema, and new E-Sports center.  Next, students proceeded to explore the buildings on the ECU Campus, which house various programs offered by the university, such as the Science Hall, Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center, and the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center.

The tour concluded with a visit to the petrified tree at the campus entrance. The Callixylon tree is a 250,000,000-year-old petrified tree stump discovered by John Fitts in a field in 1913. For twenty-three years, the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and ECU were vying for possession of the tree. However, the tree was given to ECU as a gift and memorial and was formally accepted by the university in 1936. The students enjoyed learning about the history of the Callixylon tree.

Students finished the day by enjoying a meal in ECU’s Taff Cafeteria, where they were treated to lunch with the college students.

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College’s GEAR UP program. Eastern 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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