Sechrist succeeds in OBU Invitational

The first outdoor meet was home, early this month. Off to a great start, the women had 41 NCCAA Outdoor National Championship qualifiers and the men had 18 qualifying standards. Sophomore Emily Sechrist won the 5000-meter race with a time of 18:44.39.

By Mya Hudgins, Contributing Writer

Oklahoma Baptist University’s outdoor track and field season has finally started.

The first outdoor meet was home, early this month. Off to a great start, the women had 41 NCCAA Outdoor National Championship qualifiers and the men had 18 qualifying standards. Sophomore Emily Sechrist won the 5000-meter race with a time of 18:44.39.

“The first outdoor meet was a lot of fun,” Sechrist said.  “There’s always a different kind of anticipation and nervous excitement at the first meet of the season, and it was cool having it at our home track.  Despite the high winds and that it was our first outdoor meet, it was a great start to the season.”

Sechrist was introduced to running in middle school and since then has decided to continue her running career in college.

“I actually hated running long distances when I was younger,” she said. “I would race sprints against the boys at recess, but I remember crying when I had to run the mile in P.E.  My parents made us participate in a sport every season in middle school. Track was the only option in the spring, so I went out for that.”

Sechrist said she considered herself a sprinter until she ran the mile and found out she was better at the longer races. During her freshman year in high school, Sechrist decided to try out for cross country. She won state in cross country and in the two-mile that spring. Now she brings her talent to the OBU track and field team.

“I didn’t really have a team in high school, so a close-knit, talented, and dedicated team is what I looked for when I was deciding where to go to college,” she said.

“At OBU, I’ve found a Christ-centered, committed group of athletes that has enhanced my athletic experience so much.

“It is cool to be a part of a group of athletes pursuing the same goal, and encouraging each other in the process.”                   

As Sechrist came into a dedicated team, she said that she wants to help make the team better spiritually, emotionally and physically.

“I hope to be a good example and influence on the team as someone who works hard in everything that I am involved in, and as a follower of Christ,” she said.

“Competing in three different seasons (cross-country, indoor and outdoor track) can be exhausting; mentally and physically. I want to encourage others to push themselves and stay motivated when it’s tough,” Sechrist said.

Freshman Daisy Vanmeter said she has looked up to Sechrist ever since she met her and the team.

“She has always been such a Christ-like example for me,” Vanmete said. “She’s easy to talk to and I always know that I can go to her for anything, not just running related.”

Freshman Ashley Ellis said she had the same experience upon meeting Sechrist for the first time.

“She always checked on me anytime I was sick or missed practice. She has always been super encouraging to me and the team,” Ellis said.

Sechrist doesn’t like setting goals for herself, but she does have hopes for success.

“I don’t love setting goals that depend on other people, or on things outside of my control, but it would be really cool to win Nationals in Steeplechase again,” Sechrist said.

“I also want to break 11 minutes in steeple. Outside of running specifically, I want to try to be a more intentional and encouraging teammate. It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in my own races and results, but I want to be more caring and encouraging to my teammates and their races.”

Running has helped Sechrist in her walk with Christ and has taught her many life lessons.

“I’ve been a Christian since I was young, but I’m learning every day what it looks like to deny myself and actively pursue Christ in all areas of my life,” she said.

“Running is such a good analogy for a relationship with Christ because there are highs and lows in both. Also, in a race and in your walk with Christ, you’re always either moving closer or further away from ‘the prize.’ You’re never just standing still. You have to work hard and make the decision every day to pursue success in running, just like you do in a relationship with Christ,” Sechrist said.

She said she gives God the glory for her talent with which He blessed her.

“I’ve learned that I can use the gift God has given me of running to glorify Him,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s easy to make it an idol because of the time and dedication it takes to be successful, but I’m constantly reminded that my ability isn’t mine. He can take it away and do with it what He wants.”

City officials urge storm preparation

With storm season lasting from late March to early August, city officials are urging caution, telling the public to take the necessary steps in preparing for a storm. Here’s what to do…

By Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

Spring in Oklahoma brings rain showers and tornado sirens.

With storm season lasting from late March to early August, city officials are urging caution, telling the public to take the necessary steps in preparing for a storm.

“Wherever you are, you need to have a plan for severe weather,” City Emergency Manager Don Lynch said.

“The first part of that plan is to know how you’re going to get information about the weather.  So I recommend everyone have a least two means of getting that information [about severe weather warnings and watches].”

Having a weather radio on hand can do this, and these usually cost around $30.

“[Weather radios] are good investments to have, and another thing that’s good is weather apps from the television stations like the four major networks in Oklahoma City,” Lynch said.

“They all have an app; they’re all good, and they all provide information about what’s going on.  Whatever your favorite station is, download that app.”

The four major networks in OKC — KOCO (News 5), KWTV (News 9), KFOR (News Channel 4) and KOKH (Fox 25) –- all provide free apps for Apple and Android devices, allowing Oklahomans to stay up-to-date during severe weather.

“The second [part of a plan] is to know what to do when you get that information,” Lynch said.

It is important to understand the difference between a watch and a warning.

Knowing the difference can help prepare for severe weather.

“A watch means that the atmosphere is favorable for the development of severe weather,” Lynch said.

“It’s not occurring right now, but you need to watch the weather because sometime in the next six to eight hours, that’s usually how long a watch is issued for, we expect that severe weather will develop and effect the area.”

If a watch is issued, it does not imply the need to cancel any plans, but it is vital to remain alert and continually check information coming in about the weather.

“When a warning is issued, then it’s important to take immediate precautions,” Lynch said.

If you are in a warning area, it is strongly advised you take shelter immediately.

A weather radio or app will help you stay up-to-date with the storm, knowing where it is at any given moment as you take shelter.

“In Shawnee, we have a network of outdoor warning devices, so sirens, in the community,” Lynch said. “Those were originally put in in the 1960s for nuclear attack purposes.  They were designed to warn people outside if a nuclear attack occurred, that they’d need to get in and hunker down and duck and cover.”

With nuclear threats no longer relevant, the city realized that the sirens could then be used for a more realistic reason and turned them into tornado sirens.

“As Shawnee grows, we’re looking to put some more in various areas to get the coverage we want to have,” Lynch said.

Sirens, though, are not the only thing people need to listen to when severe weather is in the area.

Designed to notify people to pay attention, the sirens act as the first line of defense.

It is important that, once a siren is heard, shelter is taken immediately before seeking more information.

“We don’t do all clears on sirens, so when the sirens go off in a severe weather event, it means severe weather is imminent, and you need to take shelter,” Lynch said. “So if you’re in a shelter and the sirens go off again, that means another storm is coming.  It’s not an all clear and we want people to understand that.”

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are two types of shelters that are adequate for storms – standalones and internal.

The FEMA website said that “A standalone shelter is a separate building (i.e., not within or attached to any other building) that is designed and constructed to withstand the range of natural and manmade hazards. An internal shelter is a specially designed and constructed room or area within or attached to a larger building that is structurally independent of the larger building and is able to withstand the range of natural and manmade hazards.”

Tornados are not a rare occurrence in Oklahoma, so only a detrimental one with massive damage makes national news.

Fortunately, those massive twisters do not occur often.

“The numbers of tornados that occur every year throughout the entire country, about two percent of those tornados are the big EF4, EF5 tornados.  So 98 percent of the rest of them are smaller tornados,” Lynch said.

These numbers don’t lessen the importance of taking shelter when the sirens go off or when news alerts are sent out.  It is better to be safe rather than sorry.

“Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of buildings in Shawnee that can serve as storm shelters,” Lynch said. “We found that so many people were waiting till the last minute to come that it was putting them in harms way.”

The only public shelter available in Shawnee is located at North Rock Creek School.  It is important that the public know that this shelter is only available for use when school is not in session.  If school is in session, shelter will have to be taken elsewhere.

In the panic of a storm approaching, it is dangerous for people to be driving towards a shelter, especially if a person waits until it is too late. 

If taking shelter in a public area is no longer an option, staying at home is the best alternative.

“If you have a cellar, storm shelter, safe room or basement available, go immediately to that area,” Emergency Medical Services Authority stated. “If none of these options are available to you, get to the lowest level of your home. Get to a windowless interior room, such as a bathroom, closet or inner hallway.

Stay as far from windows as possible, go to the center of the room – corners tend to attract debris. Get under a sturdy piece of furniture; heavy table or desk, and hold on to it.”

OBU’s emergency plan gives students parimeteres on what to do during severe weather.

“In the event of threatening weather, while in housing, students will be notified by the Residential Life Staff who will direct all students to take cover any time there is a tornado warning in the vicinity,” the website states.

Raley is the designated shelter for OBU.

Being vigilant in the midst of a storm watch or warning is vital.  To stay up to date, again, make sure to have a weather app, radio and follow the City Emergency Management for Shawnee. 

Their website is

You can also follow the city of Shawnee on Twitter  @CityofShawnee.

Senior hosts poverty exhibit downtown

“The point of this event is to humanize the statistics of poverty within Pottawatomie County,” Roach said.

By Jason Burger, Assistant News Editor

OBU grad Madison Roach (far left) and student Katie Ward (second from left) discuss poverty with community members in Shawnee at the public library. / Jason Burger, The Bison

Last Thursday, an event led by OBU senior Katie Ward and OBU graduate student Maddi Roach helped raise awareness and discussion about the issue of poverty in the Shawnee area. 

The event, which was held at the Shawnee Public Library, was a part of Ward’s senior thesis project.  With help from Roach, they aimed to create an art exhibit that humanized poverty statistics and promoted empowerment through story sharing. 

“The point of this event is to humanize the statistics of poverty within Pottawatomie County,” Roach said. 

“We really want people to understand that other people’s stories are really significant.  A lot of times, we see somebody and we have a lot of preconceived notions about their background, but this [event] is just really humanizing and it helps us engage other people well.”

Ward also said wanted to get people to empathize with those that are struggling in poverty.

“One of our main goals is for people that come to the exhibit, the visitors, to better empathize with the individuals they are encountering and to realize, ‘These are my neighbors, they are not so-and-so that I just see on the street, I know them, they are just like me, they are people too,’” Ward said.  “By better empathizing, I hope that people will be inspired to do something about this.  I hope people will be encouraged to action.” 

With the posters on display at the event, encouraging people to action was an obvious point of emphasis.  Numerous posters and images of people facing poverty were on display, including one exhibit about Shawnee resident Terry Bowen, who has struggled his whole life due to mental disabilities and spinal meningitis. 

“I didn’t grow up at home, I grew up at a state school for the mentally handicapped,” Bowen said. “I was classified as being, so called, ‘borderline mentally handicapped,’ but I’m not.  I’m mentally disabled, there is a big difference.  I’m a little bit [mentally] slower than anybody in this room, but once I catch on to things, they usually stick.” 

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A part of the exhibit displays photos of Terry Bowen. / Jason Burger, The Bison 

Bowen then discussed the broken system that he was thrown into at a young age, due to his disabilities. 

“When I was eight, my mom got my dad to sign the papers to put me in Pauls Valley School.  They’d hire anybody off the street to take care of us.  They didn’t care about us.  Not a day went by that somebody wasn’t getting beaten,” Bowen said. 

The event at the library also included a panel discussion, which included members and leaders of several nonprofit organizations in the Pottawatomie County area who devote their work to lessening the impact of poverty on people that need help.

Steve Palmer, a leader at the Salvation Army in downtown Shawnee, pointed out the seriousness of the issue of poverty in the area.

“It is very serious.  Just the stats show us that about 25 percent of the people that live in Shawnee are in poverty, and live below the poverty line.  It is also obviously much higher than that in a practical sense,” Palmer said.  “What does poverty look like? It is a lot of people struggling to have a good quality of life.  These people have very few options to move forward in life and to really enjoy their life.  It also looks like a community that is fragmented, and struggling to really come together and be a sustainable community where everyone can live well.” 

At the end of the event, Katie Ward also pointed out that her experience and knowledge gained at OBU inspired her to create the Owning Poverty event. She encouraged other students to use their fields of study in practical ways.    

“This is my senior thesis exhibit, so doing a thesis project doesn’t just mean you are doing a long research paper, it can also mean you find practical ways to impact the community while still doing research,” Ward said.  “This is my practical application by interacting with the community.  My classes have inspired me to find ways to apply my knowledge, so I’m still maintaining the academic rigor, but I’m also applying what I have learned.”

High numbers of tornadoes predicted for April storm season

Just last week, meteorologist Damon Lane reported that this year’s April showers will include a spike in tornadoes–particularly in eastern Oklahoma. “I’m both intrigued and worried,” Davis said.

By Emma Ann Patton, Online Content Editor 

Just last week, meteorologist Damon Lane reported that this year’s April showers will include a spike in tornadoes–particularly in eastern Oklahoma.

“April will be a busy month,” said Lane, who works for KOCO news in Oklahoma City. “Busier than normal with about 20 tornadoes in the state.”

The average amount of tornadoes in April is 12. So, why the big spike in ‘naders?

Lane says the above-average storm season is due to a weather pattern called “La Nina,” or a colder-than-normal temperature that permeates the Pacific ocean near the equator line.

Last time Oklahomans experienced La Nina in 2012 there were a whopping 54 tornadoes, according to the KOCO report.

Sierra Davis, a freshman biology major, said she was concerned about the prediction.

“I’m both intrigued and worried,” Davis said. “I’ve never been in an area when a tornado was actually happening, so it’s also exciting to think I might get to walk outside and see one at some point.”

While the outlook for severe weather this spring is grim, OBU’s emergency plans provide students with safety precautions.

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Students in the above residential areas should go to the corresponding shelters. / Courtesy Photo, OBU Emergency Plans

“In the event of threatening weather, while in housing, students will be notified by the Residential Life Staff who will direct all students to take cover any time there is a tornado warning in the vicinity,” the website states.

During a tornado watch, OBU security officers open the basement of Raley as a place to take shelter. The emergency plan also says to stay away from windows and doors and suggests bringing a blanket and pillow in case of flying debris.

Despite her nervousness, Davis said her faith in God provided some comfort.

“Overall, I can’t really control the weather so I’ll just roll with whatever happens and let God handle it,” Davis said.

Comm studies majors present posters at Oklahoma Research Day

Seniors Lindsi Skinner and Emma Patton set up their research posters science-fair style for the 2017 Oklahoma Research Day on March 3.

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Skinner poses next to her poster, displaying her honors thesis data. / Courtesy Photo

By Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

Seniors Lindsi Skinner and Emma Patton set up their research posters science-fair style for the 2017 Oklahoma Research Day on March 3. Both communication studies majors presented their honors theses’ studies in Enid, Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma Research Day is a premier annual event celebrating student and faculty research, creative and scholarly activities,” Professor of Communication Studies and

Chair Division of Communication Arts, Dr. Vickie Ellis said.

This year’s Oklahoma Research Day was hosted by Northwestern Oklahoma State University. The event welcomed students and faculty from a numerous amount of universities, showcasing research from all areas of study.

“The event has grown in numbers and in stature with contributors from all Oklahoma’s institutions of higher education,” Ellis said, “including many collaborative contributions from national and international academic and research institutions.”

Along with Skinner and Patton, Dr. Kaylene Barbe attended the event.

“Hanging out with Dr. Barbe and Lindsi is always a blast,” Patton said. “Going on a road trip was super fun. The conference had a fairly casual but scholarly atmosphere, and getting to speak to people about my research was such a privilege.”

Besides presenting research, students and faculty could use the time to connect with others in similar fields of study.

“The event seeks to encourage networking among researchers and interchange of ideas among those studying and researching in their respective academic disciplines,” Ellis said.

Thanks to networking during the event, Skinner said she hopes to further her research through publication.

“Oklahoma Research Day was an awesome experience,” Skinner said. “I even met a sweet lady who put me in contact with the Oklahoma Senior Journal. This could be an avenue for publication for my research. It was so exciting.” 

Both Skinner’s and Patton’s research will be presented at OBU later this spring.

Skinner’s research is titled “Wisdom for the Ages: An Analysis of Internet Marketing on Nursing Home Websites.” She presents on April 5.

Patton’s research is titled “A Study on the Old Soul: Spiritual Communication of Elderly People with Memory Loss.” She presents on April 6.


Bison women learn self-defense

“I have already noticed that I pay more attention to what is going on around me and I hope I continue to do that so I can keep myself safe,” Knox said. “It is unfortunate that we need to know how to defend ourselves, but those are very good skills to know.”

By Chelsea Weeks, Features Editor

It is often said that “knowledge is power,” quoted from enlightenment thinker Francis Bacon, but in some cases, knowledge is truly life-saving.

Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7pm, around 30 women gathered at the RAWC to attend a Self-Defense Class coordinated by Taylor and WUA Resident Director Lanie Allred and taught by Warrior Code Martial Arts sensei Kyle Craig.

Senior physics major Graeson Griffin helps instruct the self-defense class. / Alena Blakley, The Bison 

“I believe that the more people are trained to defend themselves the better our community will be,” Craig said. “Criminals are predators and they seek out the weakest to be their victims. The more people in the community who are properly trained to respond to a threat the less number of easy targets there are.”

Over the course of two hours, these women were taught many different techniques to use in uncertain situations.

“We worked a lot on situational awareness,” Craig said. “We discussed improvised weapons that most people carry with them every day and don’t even realize it. We worked on different ways to get away from an attacker who has grabbed you in different ways aka wrists, neck, hair. We discussed different ways to strike an attacker, where and how to inflict the most damage/pain with the least effort. We worked through some ‘what if’ scenarios the ladies came up with as well.”

One of the main aspects of this event was to help students with self-defense techniques and instill in them confidence in themselves.

“One of my goals is just to provide events and programs and things that are not just fun, but beneficial to the residents and students that are here at OBU,” Allred said.  “I think it is definitely important to have fun, but also I like that it serves a purpose and can help them beyond their college experience. It’s something that they can learn here and take with them.”

Junior a family and community service major Jamie Knox commented on how this class has impacted her.

“I have already noticed that I pay more attention to what is going on around me and I hope I continue to do that so I can keep myself safe,” Knox said. “It is unfortunate that we need to know how to defend ourselves, but those are very good skills to know.”

Some students commented on why they decided to attend.

“I went because I think it’s very important to know how to defend yourself if you are in a bad situation,” sophomore family and community service major Caitlyn Crosby said. “It’s also better to be informed and know how to defend yourself and never have to use what you know than to not know how to defend yourself and be in a situation that could be harmful to you.”

Nursing major Sarah Morris explained why she went and how she found the information useful.

“It is a very important subject that should not be disregarded. I just want girls to know that it is important to be confident in our abilities, and when we are in public to not look like an easy target. It is so easy to walk into a store with our heads down at our phones, I do it, but we need to start paying more attention to our surroundings.”

Although fun was included, the major focus during this class was how to better the lives of the students.

“I just think that self-defense is really important,” Allred said. “It’s definitely important to be aware of your surroundings. We do live in a fallen world and so that means that it’s not how God intended, but it’s not safe and so, not that we need to be fearful at all, but we do need to be aware. Especially as women, and young ladies that are in college. It’s really important that they are trained and realize the importance of being aware of your surroundings, and feeling confident enough if a situation, hopefully not, was to arise, that they would know how to handle that and be able to get out of that situation. More of trying to prevent those rather than reacting to whatever happens after.”

Communication Students to present at National Conference

“We often get one student in a national conference; it’s unusual to get five in one conference,” Dr. Vickie Ellis said.

Nicholas Dingus, Contributing Writer

OBU students often have the chance to attend conventions and conferences within their area of study. However, not often do five students get selected to present their research at a national conference.

Savaughn Williams, Haley Schumacher, Haylee Belcher, Rebekah McPheeters and Braden East will present at the conference. / Courtesy Photo

Later this month, five OBU students will be presenting their research at the Central States Communication Association in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Haylee Belcher, Braden East, Rebekah McPheeters, Haley Schumacher and Savaughn Williams were selected from the Communication Arts department to present at the conference.

Their research topics ranged everywhere from Title IX at Christian universities to negative theming in political campaigns. Each of these student’s topics were based on their future goals, serving to provide constructive and rewarding experience.

“My paper, ‘Public Relations and Christian Universities: Title IX Generates a Firestorm’ specifically looked at a specific Christian higher educational institution’s public relations tactics and how those incorporated the institution’s mission, values and beliefs,” Schumacher, a senior, said.

Schumacher said she chose the topic because she wants to someday pursue a career at higher education institution.

“I was very surprised to find that it was very hard to find people at the institution to interview,” she said. “However, once I did find an interview, it was a rewarding experience yet very emotional.”

There were over 100 submissions from all over the United states; less than 60 submissions, including the five students from OBU, were chosen to present.

“We often get one student in a national conference; it’s unusual to get five in one conference,” Dr. Vickie Ellis, Chair of the Division of Communication Arts, said. “Our students are doing excellent work that is being reviewed by panels of people from all over the country by people in those fields of research.”

McPheeters, whose paper is entitled “They Will Know You are My Disciples: Intentional Group Formation for Short-Term Missions,” said she is excited to be able to share her work and discuss topics with experts in her field at the conference.

“I’m looking forward to meeting other scholars in my field at this conference,” McPheeters said. “I will be able to discuss my research with other people who truly care about this subject.

McPheeters also said she was excited to represent OBU and Christ through her research.

“The conference attracts scholars across the United States, and my research is about effectively sharing the Gospel with the world.”

Williams’s paper is titled “No Show for No Kids: An Analysis of a Child’s Effort to Advance the KKK’s Agenda,” and Belcher’s paper is titled The Unspoken Holy War: An Evaluation of How Christians Describe Spiritual Warfare.”

East conducted a rhetorical critique on a political artifact. His paper is titled Branding Trump: Fantasy Themes in Ads from the Clinton Campaign.”

“I’m so very thankful to OBU and my amazing professors who made this possible,” East said.

Ellis praised the students and their hard work that will be representing the OBU in Minneapolis March 16-19.

“OBU’s name will be all over the honors communication conference,” Ellis said. “It’s such a coupe for us to be able to have our student shine in that kind of format, because graduate schools – as well as those in the communication industry – are there looking at our students for potential fellowships and career entry positions.”

Students prayer walk for six miles, interceding for immigrants and refugees

“Before you are anything, you are in the image of Christ,” Shillow said.

By Anna Brewster, Assistant Faith Editor

Walking is part of everyday life, but sometimes, people choose to walk the extra mile – or in this case, extra six miles. 

Over 500 participants prayer walked through south and downtown Oklahoma City Saturday, Mar. 4 for El Camino Del Inmigrante OKC (translated “The Path of the Immigrant).

The prayer pilgrimage began around 8 a.m., at Santa Fe South Elementary School (5325 S. Penn), and ended over six miles later at the doors of Frontline Church Downtown (1104 N. Robinson). 

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Patricia Vargas, a Spanish student in the Intensive English Program at OBU, reads the “passport” given to each participant of the pilgrimage. / Emma Patton, The Bison 

It was a diverse group, with people from many races, denominations, ages and backgrounds.

Professors,students, doctors, pastors, young professionals, families and immigrants forfeited several hours of their weekend to walk in solidarity and show their care for immigrants and refugees, undocumented and documented alike.

John-Mark Hart, Head Pastor of Christ Community Church, was a main leader of El Camino and spoke before the walk began.

“We want to say that we love immigrants in Oklahoma City,” Hart said. “We want to stand together in good times and we also want to be together in difficult times.”

The walk was first inspired by Hart’s participation in a similar walk from Tijuana, Mexica to Los Angeles, California.

He and over 100 other participants walked about 15 miles each day over the course of 11 days, and that walk led to others around the country.

One of the overarching themes of El Camino OKC is found in Deuteronomy 10:18 (ESV): “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”

Hart had three points on being people of love that take care of the sojourner as God does:

“Love listens… love suffers… love speaks,” Hart said.

His points were translated into Spanish by Alex,* an undocumented student at OSU-OKC. He added a few sentences of his own to Hart’s.

“No están solos. No están solos… El amor habla muchos Ienguajes,” Alex said. (Translated “You are not alone. You are not alone. Love speaks many languages.”)

Vero,* an undocumented student in OKC shared her story next.

Her mother brought her to the United States when she was only six years old, and there were, and still are, many hardships. Vero’s father left her mother, along with Vero and four other children.

About six months ago, Vero’s mother lost her job, and life did not look hopeful until those that loved her stepped in and helped.

“My mom could not afford the house,” Vero said. “Not too long ago, my mom got fired. “My small group from my church gathered money to pay my rent and God used them to help me.”

Her family can’t afford much, and she chooses not to ask her mom for anything because she doesn’t want to be a burden.

“My shoes are bought by my teacher because she loves me,” Vero said. “She also bought me [a] shirt and every Wednesday, she takes me to dinner. It’s hard, but it’s humbling, I guess.”

After Vero’s story, Kyle Harper, University of Oklahoma Provost shared a few words, followed by a prayer from vicar Nate Carr.

Hart and several other speakers also made clear that the purpose of the walk was not to march in protest but to walk in prayer and to see immigrants as people instead of problems.

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As the walk begins, participants lifted their crosses in the air. / Emma Patton,  The Bison 

No signs were allowed, but small wooden crosses were provided, and each participant was also given a free backpack and a “passport” to be stamped at each of five prayer stations.

Chauncey Shillow, Associate Pastor at Christ Community Church, shared the idea that skin color, denomination or political affiliation are not the only classifiers.

“Before you are anything, you are in the image of Christ,” Shillow said.

After a group picture on the front lawn of the school, the walk began. Strollers were pushed over cracked sidewalks, and several participants gathered litter as they trudged along.

Many conversations were held with friends and strangers alike.

Participants in El Camino were from all different walks of life.

Mary Hernandez, a congregant at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, attended to support the immigrants because her husband is an immigrant.

“I think if [El Camino is] covered well, it will perhaps open the eyes for moving immigration reform,” Hernandez said. “I hope it shows the immigrant population that people are concerned for them.”

Cuco Escalera was at the walk with people from Saint James Episcopal Church.

He sees the walk as an opportunity to impact the community.

“This… is a wake up call to those who are in the shadows,” Escalera said. “Those that do not want to come out and express themselves. This is to encourage them to come out and we should not be afraid because God told us not to be afraid.”

Dr. David Chappell, professor of history at the University of Oklahoma, also attended El Camino. Chappell found the walk different than he had expected, and thought it could have a huge impact.

“It’s not an angry self-righteous crowd,” he said. “It’s a crowd communicating patience, understanding and love.”

Upon completing the walk and arriving at Frontline, each walker received a free lunch of tostadas provided by Faithworks of the Inner City. Hart also spoke after the prayer walk on actions steps participants could take.

He encouraged people to learn about refugees and immigrants and to continue a dialogue about immigration reform.

“This is not the end of the journey… this is the beginning of a journey,” Hart said. “If it isn’t the beginning, then it’s probably not very meaningful to us. Think about this as a step on the journey – leave here praying ‘God, what’s the next step?’”

Organizational sponsors of El Camino Del Inmigrante donated several thousand dollars for the event. They included Christ Community Church, City Presbyterian Church, Faithworks of the Inner City, Frontline Church, Saint James Episcopal Church, The Spero Project, The Well Church, Western Oaks Church of the Nazarene and Evangelical Immigration Table.

First Baptist Church of Moore also provided a bus to shuttle walkers back to their cars after the event came to its conclusion.

*Some names are altered to protect the identities of undocumented immigrants.

NFL star Archie Manning speaks at OBU gala

“Sometimes, dealing with some tough things makes it easier to keep your faith,” Manning said.

Jason Burger, Assistant News Editor 

Reporter Jason Burger (left) interviews Archie Manning (right).

OBU was honored to host retired NFL quarterback and humanitarian Archie Manning as the main speaker at the Green and Gold Gala Tuesday night.

Manning, who played in the National Football League for 15 seasons, started at the quarterback position for the New Orleans Saints, (and then later with the Oilers and Vikings) after playing an impressive collegiate career at the University of Mississippi.

Manning is also notorious for being the father of NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning. Despite an impressive college career, and two Pro Bowl appearances in the NFL, Manning did not hesitate to admit that he has seen his fair share of adversity.
“It was kind of a struggle. I loved playing the game, I loved playing the quarterback position, I loved playing for New Orleans, but you never get used to losing.”

The New Orleans Saints record during the time Manning was quarterback (1971-1982) was 49 wins and 119 losses. Despite the landslide of losses, Manning still found a way to be selected to two Pro Bowls, which is an honor for players who display excellence during a regular season. In the midst of a hard career, Manning remained positive about his experiences.

“I wouldn’t swap it for anything,” Manning said. “I was one of those kids that wanted to grow up and play [foot]ball, and I got to do it. I enjoyed the experience, the relationships I made, and the lessons I learned. The values I got along the way have always been beneficial to me. I don’t want to do it again…but I’m glad I did it.”

Manning not only faced adversity in football, but in his personal life as well. When he was in college, his father committed suicide, and left his wife, daughter, and Archie behind. Fast forward a few decades, Manning’s eldest son, Cooper, was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and was forced to quit playing football right before he started college. Through all this uncertainty, Manning said his faith is what got him through the hard times.

“Sometimes, dealing with some tough things makes it easier to keep your faith,” Manning said. “Sometimes we ask God things like, ‘Why did you take my father away from me at a young age; Cooper wanted to play college football so bad, why was that taken away from him?’ But, I was very fortunate to have parents that instilled faith in my sister and I at a young age. We had a strong faith, and it certainly served me well and helped me during my tough times in life.”

Due to the adversity and competitive nature that Archie Manning possesses, he made it clear that leadership is a necessary force in today’s age.

“Leadership is one of the paramount things in our society,” Manning said. “We all have to be leaders in some capacity. Sure, sometimes there’s people in a position above you, but still. We all have to take leadership roles whether it be at work, school, with our families or our friends. Its something that I feel is so important in our society, but I also feel that a lot of people think that it is lacking in a lot of areas, and it is something we all need to work on.”

Manning made it clear that he wants to be remembered as someone who was a good teammate, not only on the field but in life as well. He also offered advice for young individuals wanting to make a difference in society.

“I believe in that old saying, ‘The harder I work, the luckier I’ll get,'” Manning said. “I really believe that. So I think if you keep your priorities straight, and work hard, you’re going to accomplish some things.”

OBU remembers and celebrates Dr. Travers

If a man’s life is measured by how many people he influenced, then Dr. Michael Travers’ life was full indeed.

Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

If a man’s life is measured by how many people he influenced, then Dr. Michael Travers’ life was full indeed.

Dr. Michael Travers / Courtesy Photo

Students, faculty, friends and family gathered at Immanuel Baptist Church Monday, March 6 at 10 a.m. to honor a professor, coworker and friend.

Dr. Michael Travers passed away last Thursday, March 2, after his battle with cancer.

The community at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) are now remembering and celebrating his life, recalling all the ways Dr. Travers touched their lives.

“I came to campus for a visit in February of 2015, and since I was considering a major in English, the admissions counselor set up an appointment for me to talk with Dr. Travers,”current student Bethany Cole recalled.

“As we began talking about our mutual love for literature, our deep respect for the power of stories and our common desire to integrate our faith with the study of literature, I began to realize that OBU was the place for me to be,” Cole said.

“I attribute my decision in part to that first meeting I had with him, for his desire for himself as a Christian scholar reflected my own.”

Students who had the privilege of having him as a professor know that his knowledge extended beyond literature and taught them so much more than a curriculum.

“Dr. Travers was the first person to ever teach me what it means to not only honor God with your heart and soul, but also your mind,” student Tara McDannel said. “He was a clear example of how I’ve seen the integration of faith and learning in my time here at OBU,” she said.

“He told our class that while we may not be tested or quizzed on all of the daily readings, he strongly believed God desires for us to know the material and do our best in school because He cares about our education,” McDannel said. “Dr. Travers was incredibly kind, wise, and faithful to the Lord. He will be dearly missed, but we can rejoice that the Lord has called him Home.”

Joining the OBU family in 2014, it took no time at all for Dr. Travers to make a difference in student and faculty’s lives.

“From the time he arrived at OBU, Dr. Travers served and led with grace, integrity, humility, and a deep devotion to Christ,” Dr. Brent Newsom, assistant professor of English, said.

“Though he had many other responsibilities, I knew him best as chair of the Division of Language and Literature. He always made time for my colleagues and me, no matter how busy he might have been, and his love for learning and for students was plain to all,” Newsom said. “I appreciate his example of servant leadership.”

TraversLaughing.jpgHis kindness and encouraging spirit was contagious.

“I so appreciate this man,” assistant professor of communication studies and director of forensics and debate Scot Loyd said.

“He was always very kind to me. First, during my time at Louisiana College and then I was pleasantly surprised to reconnect with him at Oklahoma Baptist University,” he said.

“He always had an encouraging word and a warm smile. I was privileged to live across the street from him and his wonderful wife, Barbara. They opened their home to us and made us feel so welcomed,” Loyd said.

“He will be missed, but great is his reward. Dr. Travers was a great Christian thinker, teacher, and servant of God and people,” he said.

“[He was] a man who lived out the tradition of such great thinkers as C.S. Lewis, who he was so fond of quoting,” Loyd said.

“This quote from C.S. Lewis seems especially fitting at this time: ‘Your place in Heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it.’ This is so true of Dr. Michael Travers. Thank you, Dr. Travers for your wonderful example. May blessings of peace comfort your family as we all rejoice in a life well lived and in the hope of a coming Resurrection.”

His thirst for knowledge was inspiring to all and his love of words shared with both students and faculty.

Dr. Travers earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English at McMaster University in Canada.

He went on to earn a degree in education from the University of Western Ontario before also earning a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University.

His educational expertise influenced many faculty members.

“When I first met Dr. Travers, I was a bit intimidated as he was a brilliant man with an amazingly quick mind,” student publications advisor Holly Easttom recalled.

“Even though I never lost my awe for his intellect and professionalism, he was always so easy to talk to that the intimidation quickly became steadfast respect. He was elegant . . .every word, every gesture thoughtful and deliberate. Words were important to him, and he treated them with deference—that intrinsic elegance he had echoed in every one.”

Even as his cancer progressed, Dr. Travers took what most would consider a burden, and turned it into a tool for learning, honoring the Lord in the midst of a trail.

His faith that he upheld throughout his treatments was a testiment to students and faculty, showing that life’s trials can still be filled with blessings.dr-michael-travers

“We had multiple conversations about things ranging from our favorite literature, the concept of Christian scholarship, and as his cancer progressed, we shared ways in which God had encouraged us through the trials in our lives,” Cole said.

“Not only that, but my siblings and I were blessed to enjoy the Travers’ hospitality last January for a faculty open house, and the time we spent with them was so refreshing.”

Travers’ love for his wife was clear to all and you rarely saw the two separate.

“Aside from visiting with him personally, I think the thing I will miss the most about Dr. Travers is seeing his interaction with Mrs. Travers,” Cole said. “It always brought a smile to my face to see them walking to and from the cafeteria together each day.  They were always the picture of a lady and a gentleman, and it was obvious that their daily ritual brought them joy.”

A verse Dr. Travers quoted often was Lamentations 3:22-23:

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

His testament of faith will be remembered by all who knew and loved him.

In honor of his memory, his family asked, instead of flowers, that donations be made to the Gideons International, an organization that provides free Bibles to all.

They are often recognized for placing Bibles in hotel rooms for whomever may come across them.

You can donate in honor of Dr. Travers’ memory by going to