OBU’s University Scholars Weekend and Be A Bison Day

bison day_courtesy okbu.png

Courtesy Photo / OBU

Dozens of students visited OBU’s campus for Be a Bison Day, University Scholars’ Weekend or both last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Josiah Jones

News Editor

Prospective students flooded OBU’s cam- pus this weekend for two admissions-related events: Be A Bison Day and University Scholars Weekend.

Be A Bison Day occurs several times per semester and is an opportunity for prospective students to see what attending OBU would be like. Last weekend’s Be A Bison Day was Friday, Feb 14.

According to OBU’s website, “Bison Day is designed for students to see what the next four years could look like by experiencing a typical day in the life. Join us for this event to learn more about what OBU can offer you!”

According to OBU’s website, there are three more Bison Days this spring. They will be Monday Mar 9, 2020, Wednesday Mar 11, and Friday Mar. 13.

The University Scholars Weekend surrounds OBU’s University Scholarship Program. The program allows high-achieving students a chance to win one of six full-tuition scholarships to OBU.

The weekend ends with the Annual Scholarship Recognition Ceremony, where the six winners of the scholarship are announced, and all prospective student who have accepted scholar- ships are recognized.

“The University Scholarship is a full-tuition scholarship opportunity for students on Bison Hill!” assistant director of admissions Kalyn Fullbright said.

“To qualify, students must have a 32 ACT and a 3.75 GPA. In order to apply, accepted students must submit a letter of recommendation, resume, and an essay focused on one of three given prompts.”

Candidates are evaluated by OBU professors across many fields of study. These professors then choose which candidates move on to the next phase.

“Upon receiving the students’ documents, our team distributes them to select professors on campus for review,” Fullbright said.

“Once reviewed, we determine which students will qualify to move forward in the process.”

Once students make it to the next round, they must come to OBU to be interviewed by faculty.

“The final step in the process is an interview with OBU faculty and staff,” Fullbright said. “Each candidate sits with a panel of three judges for a 20-25 minute interview.”

The interviews are formal and scored.

Though the faculty members interviewing candidates do the scoring, they are not the ones to make the final decision about who will win the six available scholarships.

Admissions leadership compare data from across the candidate selection process.

“At the end of this process, Admissions leadership evaluates the scores from a variety of different areas including interview scores, essay scores, test scores, and more.” Fullbright said.

The University Scholars Weekend consisted of three parts: the University Scholars Banquet, the students’ interviews, and the Annual Scholarship Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, when the six winners of the University Scholarship are announced.

“University Scholars weekend is when students actually come to campus and interview!” Fullbright said.

[…] this is one of several components that determine[d] the winner(s) of the scholarship.”

With both events happening at once, OBU’s admissions team was busy. There was much
crossover between Be A Bison Day and the University Scholars Weekend participants.

“This weekend, we host[ed Be A] Bison Day, University Scholars Banquet, and finally our Annual Scholarship Recognition Ceremony.” Fullbright said. “Some students [were] on campus for all three events!”

The Annual Scholar- ship Recognition Ceremony also recognizes all other prospective students who have accepted scholarships from OBU. According to OBU’s website, 99 percent of undergraduate students at OBU receive some amount of financial aid.

Current students were encouraged to greet the prospective students, with the hope of connecting with them and increasing their chances of coming to OBU.

“The only thing that is exclusive is the University Scholars Banquet (and their interviews)!” Fullbright said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Candidates: Ball and Pumphrey are committed to service

By Jacob Factor, Features Editor   (Courtesy photo/Jonny Ball)

“We care about the student body. Jonny and I have the commitment to service. We’re not afraid to be that persistent professional voice and ask the tough questions.”

Jonny Ball is a junior biology major. He grew up on a Christian campground in Anadarko, Okla. His background, he said, gave him his reason for running for student body president.

“Every year was about the people that came to camp and about serving them,” he said.

“[The camp] kind of instilled in me life is about other people.”

Ball said his platform reflects this mindset. Community, communication and credibility are his three main focuses.

For community, Ball said he wants to help people realize their own goals and dreams and help them start clubs and organizations based on what they love to do.

He also said he wants to give student-athletes a voice in the rest of the OBU community.

“It’s hard sometimes to bridge the gap between student athletes and students who aren’t athletes.”

To remedy this, Ball said he wants to partner with SAAC and give them a spot in SGA and increase attendance at sporting events.

“If you want to be involved in a student athlete’s life, it’s important to support them.”

The next area of focus in Ball’s platform is communication which is all about transparency.

“SGA serves as a conduit for communication between administration and student.”

Ball said he wants to add student body president office hours so students can go to his office, which is on the second floor of the GC, and talk with him about what’s going on.

“There’s a lot more going on with topics than what we see sometimes, so it’s easy to get frustrated,” he said.

“Anything that we want to make happen, we’re going to be transparent about it, and if it doesn’t happen, we want to be transparent about why it didn’t happen.”

Ball said for the last area of focus, credibility, he wants his reputation to speak for itself.

He and his vice president running mate, junior Josh Pumphrey, have worked in CAB, Res Life, the Success Center and SGA, so Ball said he and Pumphrey are equipped with the leadership abilities needed to be student body president.

The Candidates: Myers and Floyd want students to leave a legacy

By Jacob Factor, Features Editor   (Courtesy photo/Clayton Myers)

“Clay and I view OBU very similarly; we love OBU to death, but we constantly see other students not have that same love for OBU that we do, and we want to change that.”

Clayton Myers is a sophomore family and community service and political science major. Both he and his vice president running mate, sophomore Nathan Floyd, said one of the most important parts of their platform is leaving a legacy.

“We are not talking about Nathan and I leaving a legacy for ourselves, but each person getting to leave their own legacy here at this school.”

Myers said this will happen with events that involve the whole OBU student community, not just a few.

Myers wants to help form new organizations that make minority groups feel like they belong, as well as make student athletes a part of the non-athletic OBU community.

“Every single student, whether they’re an athlete, an international student, a part of an underrepresented minority, matters,” Floyd said.

Myers also said he wants to bring about ways for students to directly talk to administration.

“We want to set up a forum that is a face-to-face meeting of students and [administration] so that we as students can ask the tough questions directly and avoid getting a tip-toe answer.”

Another part of their platform is reviving the Harvest Court’s importance and prestige. Floyd said it would bring excitement for students and alumni during homecoming.

While most of their ideas are for the student community, Myers said he and Floyd have thought of ways that SGA itself can improve.

Their plan for that is to have student organizations represented in SGA by a senator who acts as a voice for that organization.

“This is not just a, “talk to this senator when you need money,” but a real relationship and friendship that will allow for students to voice their opinions easier,” Myers said.

“We don’t want SGA to just be there when people need us, we want SGA to be there as a friend.”

Myers and Floyd are the only sophomores on the ballot for student body president and vice president, and Myers said this can help them accomplish their goals.

“This change is the change of culture at OBU that we realize will take more than just one term, and more than just two terms, but a continuation of active participants changing the culture for the better,” he said.

“We have the most time here on this campus to do that.”

International student athletes face different challenges, stressors than other students

By Zoya Timoshenko, Contributing Writer

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), there are 17,000 international student-athletes competing in NCAA schools alone.

Oklahoma Baptist University hosts around 73 international student-athletes, and roughly 40 different countries are represented on OBU’s 2,093-student campus.

Naturally, one might think international students bring an exciting flair to the American culture and its universities.

Specifically, international students do bring cultural diversity to college campuses.

“I think international students help others in the student body to gain a broader perspective of the world,” said Joy Carl, the director of international student services at OBU.

“Each international student has a unique perspective and individual passions. It’s through getting to know individual international students personally that other students at OBU will most benefit from the cultural diversity on our campus.”

Christina Roach, the international admissions counselor for OBU, said she believes international student-athletes not only contribute to cultural diversity but also exemplify hard work and determination.

Roach said she can personally attest to this sentiment after witnessing how international athletes must juggle a multitude of responsibilities and new experiences.

“They have the same demands that any other athlete has in terms of class time, study time, practice time, traveling and competing,” she said. “The big difference is that they must adjust to a different culture all while being a student and an athlete.”

That hard work and determination can be seen as they begin the arduous bureaucratic journey associated with traveling to the United States.

Obtaining a student visa for the United States is complicated and requires diligence and responsibility, but the visa is just one component, however. Students must also complete paperwork for the NCAA, update their medical records and obtain school records—no easy chain of events to complete.

The Process to the United States: Recruiting

The process to compete and study abroad in the United States begins one of three ways. One option is to be recruited by a visiting coach, who might visit a foreign country specifically to see an athlete perform.

They either visit for a specific athlete or go to show-cases where many athletes gather to compete for their future.

Another way to increase visibility with the coaches is to use a managing company, who then videos the athlete perform and publicizes the video on a coach-accessible platform.

Once a coach shows interest in the athlete, he or she then reaches out to the potential student and thus begins the application process.

The final option involves athletes pursuing the coaches for that initial meeting; many students simply contact coaches directly and send them videos and relevant information.

OBU graduate and former swimmer Nicolas Brun, who is from France, said he took matters into his own hands when he decided he wanted to study and compete in the United States.

Initially, his eligibility for the NCAA was complicated by his age and a missing science course from his high school curriculum.

“That’s why I emailed every NAIA and NGCAA school in order to get a swimming scholarship,” he said.

The NAIA and NGCAA had different requirements which made Brun eligible to compete with them with his current age and high school curriculum.

Either way, once a coach shows interest in the athlete, the athlete must then begin the admission process, and that process begins with determining NCAA eligibility.

Academic Requirements and Test Scores

First, the student is required to get his or her official high school transcripts.

Steve Fluke, associate athletic director for compliance with NCAA at OBU, said getting high school transcripts can be difficult—a sentiment that is shared by student-athletes as well.

“Unlike in the United States, a school does not hold the transcripts,” said Abdoulaye Bah, a junior soccer player from France. “There is one organization that holds all the records for every student from elementary school until their graduation.”

Bah said that once he received those transcripts, he then had to send them to a company in New York City to convert the grading to American standards.

This process not only takes time but also costs around $300. Some countries also require additional proof of graduation via a leaving certificate. A leaving certificate is a transcript with exit exam scores of the graduate.

In addition to the transcripts, prospective students must also take the ACT or the SAT.

If they do not speak English, they are required to take a test called Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which determines the level of English proficiency. The results determine if the student is prepared to participate in classes or if he or she will need participation in an English program.

If the English scores qualify these students to join college classes, they must show they have taken the minimum required courses in high school—a step which illustrates a commiserate level of primary education.

Specifically, students must have completed a required curriculum in their area of study in order to compete.

Sherine Van der Westhuizen, a South African track and field runner, said the many curriculum mandates can be daunting. She said she knew she wanted to pursue a career in accounting and study in the United States, so she chose classes pertaining to her area of study in South Africa.

However, the NCAA also requires high school students to have some history credits, which Van der Westhuizen did not have because she chose to study accounting instead. Because she lacked the academic requirements, she could only compete in division two universities.

These kinds of issues become common in the “clearing” process for international students, she said. These are not the only academic standards for division two universities in the NCAA, Fluke said.

These requirements are mandatory for any athlete, international or domestic.

However, international athletes face a more daunting process because their grading systems often differ from the American grading systems.

Hence, the requirements below must be converted from their grading system to the American grading system.

“[Students] must earn 16 core credits from their high school,” he said. “They must earn at least a 2.2 grade point average and, depending on their grade point average, it will determine what their score of their ACT or SAT test score must be. This is a sliding scale that the NCAA Eligibility Center uses.”

If the athlete does not meet the immediate required academic standards, he or she can redshirt on the red-shirt academic standards for a year.

Unfortunately, these are just some of the requirements established for one division; each one has different academic and demographic standards that must be navigated.

For example, division one and two sports only allow student-athletes one year of grace period before their eligibility expires to compete collegiately.

Some sports also require the athletes to be under 21 years of age.

Athletes who do not meet amateur status cannot compete for a NCAA university.

Finally, athletes must prove amateurism status to compete in division one and two, Fluke said.

According to the NCAA, the amateur status is affected by an athlete signing with an agent, receiving cash or benefits for their athletic ability, or signing and playing with professional teams or athletes.

According to the NCAA website, “membership established the process to bring about national uniformity and fairness.”

Student Visas and Immigration Laws

While the student is gathering necessary records for admission into the NCAA and his or her school of choice, athletes must also apply for their student visas.

Basically, this means United States Immigration gives that student their blessing to study in America.

The student must first receive an I20 form from the school they are planning to attend. At OBU, Joy Carl issues the I20 to eligible students, which enables students to be considered for a student visa; it is also necessary for students because it allows them to travel around the United States once they are here.

Once they receive their I20 in their country, they must take it to an American consulate to apply for their student visas.

Once the student is approved, they are ready to travel to the United States, but the average wait time for a visa is around 120 days.

The United States does not have a restriction on the number of visas granted yearly, but the process is still tedious and difficult.

In 2016, the United States Immigration Services handed out 482,033 visas.

Arriving in the United States

When international students land in the airport, the first person they often meet is Carl, OBU’s primary designated school official (PDSO).

Carl said she just joined the staff here, and she enjoys that component of her job tremendously.

“My favorite part of being the director of international student services is definitely the opportunity to build relationships with students from all over the world and to encourage and support them as they pursue their passions,” she said.

She said she is diligent about tracking logistics like making sure students have their documents up to date, have their I20 for travelling, have rides to and from air-ports and other needs of this sort. Carl is also in charge of OBU’s host family program.

Host Families

The host family program provides international students with families during the years they are studying abroad, and they can help athletes feel at home—especially during school breaks. Kateryna Shkot, a tennis player from Ukraine, raved about her host family.

“My host family in America impacted me a lot. My host mom is very nice and kind. I can always ask her for any help and she is always open to help me. Since my family is so far away from me, she understands how hard it can be for me. Therefore, she does the best she can do to make me feel less lonely in America. She wants me to know I can always rely on her.”

Jonathan Martinez, a soccer player from Colombia, said he has also benefited from having a host family.

“My family helped me to learn English, supported me with school and treated me like their own son,” he said.

Understanding the Struggle

While there are many resources for international students during their time here, it can be difficult to balance academic responsibilities, financial needs and culture shock.

Shimoya Currie, a senior track athlete from Jamaica, testifies of her struggle in being in the United States and far from home.

“It is hard to be an international if you are poor,” she said. “The hardest part about it all is knowing that your parents want to help so bad, but they can’t because it’s really hard in your country. That’s heartbreaking.”

During her time at OBU, Currie has been a good student and successful athlete while working a job and sometimes even two jobs.

“The hardest part about going to school, doing track, and working is keeping sane, literally,” she said.

“Because at times the pressure to succeed at all is very overwhelming. It’s hard to work a five-and-a-half-hour shift standing all night, then leaving work to stay up until one or two in the morning trying to get your paper done or study for an exam,” Currie said.

“It’s tough. And then you have to wake early for classes or finish what you couldn’t do the last night.

“Then go to class and you’re falling asleep because you’re so exhausted, then go to practice and give it your all. It’s hard mentally, on the body and emotionally.”

Currie talked about the struggle of her college life and how she still managed to stay positive.

“The hardest part is watching everyone else going on breaks and having fun, enjoying their college days and I am just a passerby looking onwards to the things that could be different if I didn’t have to work a lot or think about how I am going to eat or pay my bills,” she said.

“I often wonder when it’s going to be my time to enjoy life even if briefly. I still don’t know how I do it. How I wake up each morning with the motivation to finish.

“But I have a lot of people that love me and that pray for me and that’s how I get by. I find comfort in the fact that just like a storm has to run its course, it too will pass before I can see the rainbow, so I am grateful,” Currie said.

Employment

Carl said there are employment options for international students, but they can be limited because student visas only permit on-campus jobs.

Unfortunately, there are only so many jobs available on campus, and international students must also compete with full-time residents for employment.

Even if employment is secured, it may then be harder to balance a job with school and a sport while still trying to perfect the language.

Luckily, that adjustment period can be smoothed greatly by invested campus faculty and a sense of community with other international students.

“The international welcoming committee did a marvel-ous job when I first came,” said Katie Reyes, a senior softball player from Canada. “I first came to Shawnee and we had a meeting with all the international students, which honestly forced me into making friends right away,” she said.

“However, they are now my international family and am glad I got to meet them on the first day I arrived. I felt more welcomed and less nervous because I knew others were going through the same thing I was.”

International students complete pages of paperwork, commute for long hours when traveling, endure homesickness, study for hours in a second language and spend long days getting accustomed to a new culture. From the start, their journey is a challenging one. . . a challenge that can be mitigated by greater support.

What to do with Resumes: Industry Professionals explain best resume techniques

By Jacob Factor, Features Editor

 

College students often worry about what job they’re going to get after they graduate.

Even now, for some, internships are just as worrisome.

The first thing employers usually ask for from applicants is a resume, and this alone can cause anxiety.

What do you put in a resume? How is it supposed to look? How do you make your resume stand out from other applicants?

The first thing to figure out is what exactly a resume is.

According to JobScan, an online tool that helps job seekers optimize their resumes, a resume is “a concise compilation of your educational and professional experience, as well as the skills that make you desirable for the workforce.”

A resume is the first thing employers see of applicants, and according to JobScan, it’s instrumental in the application process.

“A well-organized, relevant resume will set you up to get an interview, while a poor resume will get completely lost in the sea of applicants,” JobScan’s website advises.

Dr. Daryl Green, assistant professor of business and the Dickinson Chair of Business at OBU, said the most common mistake he sees people make in their resumes is not following the rule of relevance.

“Employers are reviewing a resumé to see how the applicant’s skills match up with the position,” Green said.

A resume that includes that summer in high school you were a lifeguard or your part-time job waiting tables isn’t going to make a big impact (unless you’re applying for a similar position).

Ambra Benjamin, a recruiting manager for Facebook, attests to this fact in her LinkedIn article “Eight Things Recruiters Look for in a Resume at First Glance,” saying, “I do not care that you worked at Burger King in 1988. I mean, good for you, but no; not relevant.”

Following the rule of relevance, Benjamin said this will lead to a smaller, more concise resume.

“Unless you are a tenured college professor noble laureate with multiple published works, you do not need an 8+ page resume.”

JobScan’s website suggests that on average, employers only spend about six seconds on each resume, adding to the fact that concision is extremely important.

Benjamin said it takes her less than a minute to determine if an applicant is worthy of being considered.

It might seem a bit scary to know that you have a minute to prove to an employer that you are worthy of the job; making sure you have everything you need in your resume while also keeping it as to-the-point as possible.

It’s important to know exactly what is vital to put on a resume.

Green said resumes should have contact information, work experience (that, like mentioned before, is relevant to the position), education and skills, stressing the importance of contact information.

“You want to be reached. If you apply on a job, can the employer reach you in 24 hours?”

For the skills section of a resume, JobScan suggests avoiding “Soft skills,” ones that are intangible such as “hard-working, people-oriented, detailed,” and stick with quantifiable skills.

As for what not to include in resumes,  other than irrelevant experience, it’s a bit subjective.

Green said he likes seeing personal objectives on his students’ resumes, but both Benjamin and JobScan suggest objectives are outdated.

JobScan has another option instead of an objective statement: the executive summary.

“While an objective statement explains what you hope to accomplish, a summary statement explains who you are and what you have already accomplished,” their website offers.

JobScan and Green both posit references are optional, JobScan’s opinion to the point of not including them at all in a resume.

“Potential employers will ask you for your references later on in the interview process if they see fit,” their website states.

“Of course, if references are asked for within the application process, provide them – just not on your resume.”

OBU also offers resume resources for students.

Anyone can access Optimal Resume Career and Talent Suite, a career management platform that partners with OBU.

Optimal Resume Career and Talent Suite has samples of professional resumes, cover letters, websites, portfolios and video tutorials.

Native American Heritage Month: Students Share Their Stories

Jacob Factor, Chief Photographer 

(originally published November 1, 2017)

Native Americans have a very prominent part in Oklahoma History. It was originally called Indian Territory, and its name now is two words from the Choctaw language put together: “okla” and “humma,” meaning red people.

Native Americans are proud of their heritage, and Native American Heritage Month is a good way for them to share it with others.

Senior communications major Rachel Buckner is of the Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee tribes. She grew up in Florida, a place where she said she and her family were the only Native Americans.

“When I was younger, I actually wasn’t proud to be Native American,” she said. “We were the only Native Americans for miles. I wanted to be like everybody else–to fit in more because I felt like I stuck out like sore thumb. So I didn’t really get involved in our heritage.”

Buckner said she felt this way until her seventh grade year, when she received her Cherokee name, Mouse, from her grandmother.

Now, Buckner said, she tries to stay involved in the Cherokee Tribe whenever she can.

“Last year I ran for the Miss Cherokee Pageant,” Buckner said. “Where you’re a role model for other Cherokee women and girls and build a platform on how important you think it is for American Indians to be in education.”

Buckner said now she isn’t ashamed of her heritage.

“I’m proud to be Cherokee, proud to be part of a tribe with Wilma Mankiller and Chief Bill John Baker.”

Wilma Mankiller was the first woman to be elected as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served for ten years from 1985 to 1995 and spent her time in office working to improve the Cherokee Nation’s healthcare and education systems.

“Knowing that I have the blood of great chiefs and great war women, that encourages me every day. I do have the potential to do better than what I’m doing,” Buckner said.

Buckner’s ancestry is important to her, she said, and they inspire her to keep going.

“Our ancestors are proud of where we are because we did survive,” she

said. “They didn’t think they were going to survive after being removed. If they could see us now they’d be so proud.”

As a last message for people who don’t know much about Native Americans, Buckner said. “There are all sorts of different tribes, and they all act differently.”

“We’re all Native American, but we’re not all the same.”

Sierra Davis, sophomore biology major, is another Native American student, and she is of the Choctaw, Otoe and Kickapoo tribes. She said she and her family are very involved in their tribal traditions.

“My family goes to powwows a lot,” Davis said. “My dad gourd dances in the Choctaw style, so all his regalia is Choctaw.”

Davis said she doesn’t know how do dance in the traditional style, but she still participates.

“I can just throw on a shawl and get behind and support and dance in that way. We do that, my mom, grandma and I,” Davis said.

She said she loves having three generations of her family dancing together.

“Anything Native American is based around your family.”

Davis said her family also follows tradition in their funeral practices.

“Whenever someone on our Otoe side passes away we go through the traditional Otoe way of mourning,” she said. “We go up to Red Rock [the Otoe capital], and we stay at the Otoe Agency.”

Davis said that it’s a three-day mourning process.

“The first night is specifically all of the family grieving. It’s so intense and everyone is so emotionally attached to what’s going on. It’s really important for all of the family to be there, so everyone comes up and we all stay there together, because it’s a family process.”

Davis said that the family in mourning isn’t allowed to cook their meals during this time, so another family will be there to provide food.

“[The second night] is the night for all the friends and people of the community to come. We sing traditional songs in Otoe language. We sing to ease ourselves and to ease the spirit of the person who’s passed. Then we tell stories of their life. It’s something to lift us all up, to remind us of the per- son and celebrate their life,” she said.

Davis said that the third day, in the morning, is the funeral.

“Someone will talk and then everyone except the family will go by and say their goodbyes. Then the family goes and says their goodbyes,” she said.

Davis said that after a person leaves the casket, they’re not allowed to say the person’s name or even cry.

“It’s very important that you don’t do any of those things because the belief is that if you show that you’re still hurting after you say your final goodbye, or if you say their name, then they think that you need them, so they stay,” she said.

“You don’t want them to stay; you want them to go on and be at peace. Your can’t say their name at the gravesite for six months because it’s thought that they’ll come back, that you’re important to them and if they think that you need them it will prohibit them from being at peace.”

She said that this whole process is done at the Otoe Agency.

“We never leave it,” she said.

Along with the three-day mourning, Davis said that there is another Otoe practice that her family follows.

Before an Otoe person dies they find a trusted friend and ask them to be their “Indian Friend.”

“We’re asking them, ‘Will you be the one that never leaves my side until I’m buried?’” she said.

“The Indian Friend has a special chair next to the coffin that they sit in

so they can watch over them. They’re there to provide comfort to the spirit so they’re never alone until [the fu- neral] is over.”

“I think that’s one of the most beau- tiful things about it. I’ve seen enough people go through this and to see the care that they display; the delicacy is so amazing,” she said.

As a final goodbye to the deceased person’s spirit, Davis said that the kids will walk across the gravesite.

“We place a board over the hole and the kids walk on it,” she said.

“Then we take them away from the site immediately and tell them not to look. The reason for this is, kids are the next generation, and it symbolizes us going on,” she said.

“We’re moving forward from that point, which is why they can’t look back, because to look back is to stay in the past.”

Davis said she understands that to some who are unfamiliar with Native beliefs, they might seem unchristian.

“I once got told by a teacher that I couldn’t hold my native beliefs and still be a Christian,” she said.

“He said there wasn’t a line where they connected and some of the things I believed in were completely unrelated and couldn’t coexist with a Christian worldview.”

Davis said she has been a Christian since she was nine years old, and that the beliefs that she holds don’t contradict the Bible.

“We believe that people have souls. All of the things we do at funerals are to take care of someone’s soul in their final time,” she said.

“There are examples from the Bible where Jesus would go and deal with demon possession. People act like it doesn’t happen now. We [Native Americans] still very much know demons exist and handle that as a part of life. Knowing demons exist means giving human souls more care than a lot of people give it.”

Bison Hill spotlight: Public relations professor appreciated by students

Robyn Kuylen, Contributing Writer

     For the past eight years, OBU has had the privilege of an alumni as part of the adjunct staff; Ann McNellis graduated from OBU in the year 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in public relations.

     Throughout her time here, her students have loved being a part of her classes, and she is a favorite teacher for many communication and non-communication majors.
“I have been an adjunct professor since 2010, so I am in my eighth-year teaching,” she said.

     “The advisor I had when I was at OBU, Anne Hammond, asked me if I would be interested in teaching a class.  I tried it and loved it.  They haven’t gotten rid of me yet!” McNellis said.

     At OBU, she teaches English Composition both the first and second semester, as well as Contemporary Public Relations, Advertising, Public Relations Writing, and Public Relations Case Studies.

“The English classes are fun to teach because freshman always have interesting ideas and are excited about starting their college career,” she said.

“I [also] love teaching the communication classes.  It is a field that I always enjoyed working in, so getting to share my knowledge and enjoyment of the field is great,” McNellis said.  “I also really like giving real life scenarios as assignments and see what the students come up with. They are usually very creative and well done.”

Students share the impact Ann Mcnellis had in their public relations and advertising classes.

Kaylyn Medcalf is a 2016 graduate, currently working in Shawnee as a Communications Specialist.

 “What I really enjoyed about her classes is that she always had a ‘real life’ experience or example to go with the subject on hand; meaning, the classes were not just reading out of a textbook and memorizing definitions,” Medcalf said.

“For example, in one of her PR classes we would watch commercials and talk about what was being used to portray specific emotions and appeals,” Medcalf said.

“We did that almost every day of the semester… and still to this day; I can remember almost all the different aspects to those commercials and how advertisement affects Americans.”

Jordan Fraser is a 2016 graduate currently working toward a Masters of Public Administration and a teacher’s assistant at the University of Oklahoma.

“I enjoyed two parts [the] most,” Fraser said.

“First, learning to write press releases. It’s simpler than I was expecting, and it’s practical. Second, planning a hypothetical PR campaign. We started from the big-picture level and worked down to the smallest details. It was an effective teaching exercise,” Fraser said.

Fraser also praises the basic character and personality of McNellis.

“Professor McNellis is a personable, extroverted teacher. Her classes focus on business and nonprofit communication practices. She has a project-oriented style,” Fraser said.

McNellis has a way of incorporating real life scenarios to her students that have impacted their lives.

“Her class will impact me in a lot of ways, but the main way is making sure I know what I am doing in the work force with things related to PR,” a current communication studies senior Meagan Hill said.

“And I will be able to write the best press release out there.”

Hill said she is excited to begin her career and she is happy to know she is learning everything McNellis has to offer about Public Relations before she gets into the ‘real world.’

“Her classes were very practical,” a recent graduate and managing director of three newspapers, Lia Hillman said.

“Even working for newspapers, I’ve used a lot of the skills I learned from Mrs. McNellis’ PR, writing and advertising classes,”  she said.

McNellis is also a full-time mother of three kids (ages 12, 9, and five) and has been married to her husband for sixteen years.

“Trying to do the best job possible at being a professor, but also being a wife and mom is definitely the most challenging thing I do,” McNellis said.

“We have a really busy life keeping up with our kids and personal activities, so the work / life balance can be hard,” she said.

“I always work on my classes when my kids are at school Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

Balancing both can really be tough but McNellis has proven her capabilities and won the Seven Who Care Faculty Award last spring.

“Professor McNellis was one of my favorite professors while at OBU,” Hillman said.

“She always had a smile on her face and truly cared about her students, which is why she was one of the recipients of the Seven Who Care,”

All the knowledge gained from McNellis has changed the life of these students.

They all shared the same sentiments about McNellis preparing them for the ‘real world,’ gaining ‘real life’ experiences ahead of time and realizing how practical this information was when dealing with public relations.

This is a teacher who has really made a difference at OBU and will continue to do so for the years to come. Check out her spring classes in Banner.

Bison Profile: Shaz The Bison

Anna Dellinger, Features Editor

Between social media networks, friend groups and all other manner of human interaction, it is hard to keep a secret these days. However, one of the best kept secrets on Bison Hill is the identity of Shaz the Bison, OBU’s one and only mascot.

Though he couldn’t reveal his identity to the whole campus, Shaz was willing to give the inside scoop on life inside a suit. One of his favorite parts of being the mascot is having the opportunity to be different than he might be without a suit.

“You get to figure out who people are without them knowing who you are,” Shaz said. “And you get to completely break out of any social bubble you are in because no one knows who you are.”

While the former student portraying Shaz held the title of mascot for four years and had other mascot experience to his name, this year’s Shaz is different.

“I’ve never done a mascot gig anywhere,” he said.

“My girlfriend asked me if I wanted to try out, and I found out there was a small scholarship attached to it. I thought it would be fun and the scholarship would help a lot.  I went the day they were doing the tryouts and I was the only one who showed up.”

Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Promotions Deonne Moore held the first ever tryouts for Shaz in August of this year. Even though there was only one student at tryouts, he fit the criteria for becoming Shaz.

“We were really anxious to see the talent that we had here at OBU,” Moore said.

“[The mascot is selected based on] a number of things such as fitting the mascot suit, being able to portray charisma, being energetic, interactions with fans and kids especially, funny, etc. – all the things that go into be being a great mascot.”

Even though there is only one Shaz and he is the mascot for a full school year, there is always room for a Shaz-in-training.

“They are committed to the entire year and we hope to retain that person for the next year to help groom the next person up,” Moore said.

“Ideally, you’d like to have about 2-3 people portray Shaz, because of the commitment. If someone quits, it would be a next person up deal. Having just one person at the moment portraying Shaz is not an ideal situation, so I’m always looking for students who are interested.”

The mascot auditions are open to all enrolled OBU students, both male and female. Those interested in trying out to be Shaz can contact Deonne Moore at his email: deonne.moore@okbu.edu.

One perk of being Shaz is getting to take home the t-shirts he wears at events. Another bonus is the opportunity for consistency at events.

“I have a few children who come to every football game, and I get to hang out with them every single game – we always take pictures and high five.”

However, not all aspects of being a mascot are as heartwarming… they are a different kind of warming. One of the most difficult parts of being Shaz is a problem faced by most mascots: the extreme heat inside the suit.

“I sweat a lot,” Shaz said. “It’s so hot, that even in the basketball gym during [a] rally, I’m dripping sweat. I can wring out my sweat from my t-shirt… I drink six bottles of water and sweat it all off.”

And, while being in a suit can save a person from personal humiliation, embarrassing accidents can still happen.

“I was going up the stairs and wasn’t looking where I was going and I stepped right on a kid sitting on the stairs,” Shaz said.

Life as a mascot isn’t always easy, but for the student portraying Shaz this year, there are great things about it.

“It’s a surprise how much people love the mascot and would like to interact with it,” Shaz said.

“I love when the crowd interacts back, because it’s awkward if they don’t.”

Sometimes, Shaz is mistaken for another popular Bison mascot – Rumble of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“People ask if I’m Rumble or his brother or cousin,” Shaz said. “I say ‘no’ or ‘I’m better than him or older than him.’”

While mascots are often seen as representatives of college athletics, they can be so much more.

“It’s a furry ambassador to the university,” Moore said.

“It’s a school’s image. Things that kids and families can relate a university to. Many times, athletics can be a gateway to a university, and having a mascot that looks cool and everyone enjoys is great for the university.”

Alpaca blastoff in Shawnee

Anna Dellinger, Features Editor

Alpacas aren’t what naturally come to mind when one thinks of Shawnee, Okla. However, the Alpacas of Oklahoma are seeking to change that. Nov. 11 and 12, the Alpacas of Oklahoma (A-OK) held their annual Alpaca Blastoff in Shawnee’s Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center.

President of A-OK John Robinson oversaw the event this year. Robinson and his wife Janice run the Just Right Alpacas ranch and store in Jones, Okla., and brought three of their own alpacas to the Blastoff.

“TxOLAN and [the Alpaca Blastoff] are the two Midwest shows where most people go, and we have eight states represented this year,” Robinson said.

“Many people own alpacas as pets. This organization is designed to help people breed and make products [from alpacas].”

Alpacas of Oklahoma, an affiliate of the Alpaca Owners Association (AOA), holds two regional competitions in accordance with their motto: “Ethical promotion of all things alpaca.”

This is the 11th year of the Blastoff, and it has been held in Oklahoma City, Guthrie and Shawnee. The last three years, the event was held in Guthrie’s Lazy E Arena, but the decision was made to move back to Shawnee.

“We looked for the most affordable, most accessible show arena,” Robinson said. “It turns out that Shawnee has the best facility for price and the best location.”

The Alpaca Blastoff consisted of two main events: a halter show and a fleece competition. The halter show consisted of alpaca owners putting their alpacas on display in front of the judges, and each color category of alpacas has one champion.

The fleece competition required competitors to submit their alpaca fleeces by Nov. 10, and the fleece was then judged.

Alpaca fleece is the shearing that comes off the animal, and their hair is called fiber. Alpacas are usually shorn between mid-April and early May, and the process of removing the fleece is called harvesting.

The fleeces come off in three different ways. The fibers shorn from the trunk are softest and are used to make blankets. The fleece shorn from the head and shoulders is typically called secondary cutting and is used for outerwear, such as socks, gloves and sweaters. Whatever fibers are left over are put into rugs.

Some alpacas have fibers too dense to make any of the products mentioned above, so they are used in a process called “wet felting.” One product that comes out of wet felting is alpaca fiber balls, which are used in place of dryer sheets to de-wrinkle clothing and dry clothes faster.

In some places in South America, alpacas are also harvested for their meat. There are also some ranches in Colorado that make alpaca jerky.

“We don’t harvest the meat here in Oklahoma… [but] you can use just about everything the animal produces,” Robinson said.

Melodye McLeroy of Thackerville, Okla. drove about two hours to attend the Blastoff. It was her second year of attendance.

“I saw a commercial on television about 15 years ago [advertising alpacas] and so I bought two that were pet quality, just to see if I really like the animals and how well I could work with them,” McLeroy said. “[Now,] I own 21. We’ll be doing our first show in February at TxOLAN in Ft. Worth.”

McLeroy said she would recommend this event to other people.

“I’m here because I’m raising alpacas, and this is a great opportunity to find out what the proper characteristics of the animals and the fiber [are],” she said.

“Alpaca fiber will be a significant part of our future as far as the textile industry. [The Blastoff is] a great family event. And, it’s a great event to be exposed to the alpaca industry. It’s a great cottage industry, if you enjoy livestock.”

There are 176 alpaca farms in Oklahoma, but nation-wide there are more than 3,500. Alpaca fiber is a specialty textile in high demand. But, the industry could be even bigger, Robinson said.

“In order for us to have a viable commercial market in the U.S., we need to increase the herd size tenfold,” he said.

Several OBU students attended the Alpaca Blastoff on Saturday as well.

“I like alpacas and I want to learn more about them and how I can take over the world with them someday,” sophomore elementary and early childhood education major Abby Rogers said.

Mitchell Lee, freshman digital media arts major, went because of Rogers, his girlfriend.

“My girlfriend is obsessed with alpacas, so I brought her,” Lee said. “My favorite alpaca is the one that looked like me.”

Sheridan Wiles, sophomore digital media arts major also attended because of Rogers, one of her best friends.

“I’ve never been to an alpaca convention before and I thought it sounded interesting,” Wiles said.

For more information about the Alpaca Blastoff, check out http://www.alpacablastoff.com/. For information about A-OK in general, check out http://alpacasofoklahoma.com/.

 

To be put in a box: Alpaca Fun Facts

Alpaca fiber is some of the most expensive in the world – it can be sold for $80-$100 per pound.

Alpaca poop makes great mulch and fertilizer.

Alpacas spit at each other – or at people – when they’re mad.

They don’t like to be touched on the ears.

Alpacas are social animals because they’re very vulnerable prey without their herd.

Their teeth are only on the bottom. So, they won’t rip out grass, and they can’t bite.

You can put them with goats or horses.

A baby alpaca is called a cria.

A group of alpacas is called a herd.

Alpaca fiber is one of the warmest fibers in existence.

Alpacas hum sometimes, kind of like a cat purring.

Alpacas are in the camelid family, related to llamas, vicuñas, guanacos and camels.

OBU students volunteer at Hope House

Mya Hudgins, Faith Editor

When trying to define the word “home” it can be hard. Everyone’s home, parents and situations are different. A home to many people is where they find safety and comfort, surrounded by family and love. On the other hand, many people do not find these things when they go home. Instead, they go home to some place they hate or are uncomfortable with.

Victoria Widener, a junior at Oklahoma Baptist University, is a part of a ministry that helps young youth as things at home might not be good at the moment.

Hope House is a youth shelter in Shawnee for kids who are either waiting to get placed with the foster care system or for their parents’ situation to become more stable,” Widener said. “In addition, the shelter functions as a non-profit organization that welcomes a Christian influence.”

As this ministry is found locally in Shawnee, it gives students at OBU to help be mentors and show the love of Jesus.

“The most important thing we seek to do is love on the kids,” Widener said. “Every night looks different depending on the amount of kids there or what they’re going through at that moment. We get to know them on a personal level and try to show that we care whether that’s joking around with them, playing card games or basketball, or listening to their stories. At some point in the evening we come together for a student-led Bible study and snack and end with praying over the prayer requests they give us.”

This shelter has been a home to many Shawnee kids, and it is the students at OBU that have not only given up time but want to be an impact on someone’s life. When sadness is seen in the eyes of the kids, new knowledge is gained in students own life.

“First of all, I would say, it’s not about what you can get but what you can give, and when you are giving that is when you realize what a blessing it is to your own life spiritually to be involved in the ministry,” Widener said. “You also gain a new perspective on your own life when you see what other kid’s that are younger than you are going through.”

Loving on someone can go a long way. When a child comes from a home that is broken, they might not receive that love that they desire.

“The staff at Hope House has told us on multiple occasions how much the ministry and Bible studies have influenced the kids there,” Widener said.  “We’ve seen kids go from being completely closed off to the gospel to actually asking us questions about salvation. But even if you don’t ever get a positive response from a kid, you are planting the seed of the gospel in their hearts and being Jesus to them in a hard time.”

The group meets on Monday nights at 6:15 p.m. in the lower GC to carpool to the shelter. Widener says the community needs people to share Christ and encourage these kids.

“Hope House provides an immediate solution in emergency situations in the community involving kids,” Widener said. “The shelter is also a tremendous opportunity to reach kids who are hurting with the love of Jesus right in our own backyard.”

As the Bible talks a lot about helping others, Widener shared Matthew 25:35-40, which she believes goes best with helping at the Hope House.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”