On the Hill: Emily Chadwick

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

For all students, the road to deciding what to do after high school is different. Junior family science major Emily Chadwick never expected to be where she is today.

“What lead me to OBU?” Chadwick said. “That’s a funny story. I never had any plans of ever going to college.”

Chadwick was working as a nanny for her brother in the area when they decided to move away.

“I needed to figure out what I was going to do in the next season of my life,” Chadwick said. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I was friends with a bunch of OBU students, and they were all like ‘Why don’t you come to OBU?’”

Chadwick had all sorts of excuses for not wanting to come to OBU.

These included claims about not being smart enough, or not having a high enough ACT score to be admitted into the school.

Chadwick’s thinking flipped after she found the determination with-in herself to want to be at OBU to learn and grow.

Chadwick was familiar with the OBU community because of her friends and family.

“I’ve always been amazed at and in love with the professors here,” Chadwick said. “Because all of my siblings previously at-tended OBU, I already knew some of them, and I knew that I liked them.”

Chadwick decided on a family science major during her time at OBU.

“I love family science because I love talking about people,” Chadwick said. “I want to know everything about people. I want to know why they do the things that they do, and what they want to do.”

Chadwick has a love for people and making relationships.

“I want to continue to learn and grow myself, while also helping those around me to learn and grow in healthy ways,” Chadwick said. “One of the biggest reasons I love family science is being able to learn about people and how people affect people.”

In the future, Chadwick is thinking about pursuing counseling as a career, though she is currently undecided.

“I really like hearing about people’s problems,” she said. “I like to love on people and listen.”

Chadwick currently works at the Hope House, a Youth and Family Resource Center in Shawnee. Her job involves making sure that kids are doing what they are supposed to be doing, like homework or another activity.

“It’s like babysitting or parenting,” Chadwick said. “It’s a very fluid job. You never know what is going to happen next.”

While the job is often demanding or challenging, Chadwick sees the reward in the eyes of the children she is caring for.

“The most rewarding thing is seeing that the kids are loved and cared for,” Chadwick said. “So, we have two little kids right now, around the ages of eight and nine. They have started asking for hugs. When they first came, they were afraid to ask. But now, they come up to me and look at me and say, ‘I just need a hug.’ It is the sweetest thing, and sometimes it makes me want to cry.”

Chadwick often looks for small ways to share the gospel with the people around her, and often does this by showing love to whoever she is around.

Junior biblical languages major Chloe Stokes has seen firsthand the qualities Chadwick displays. They attend church together at Temple Baptist Church.

“Emily has the unique ability of making everyone feel welcome,” Stokes said. “No one can feel alone when they are around Emily.”

Stokes also appreciates the way that Chadwick affects the people that she is around.

“Emily brings all of the energy to a room!” Stokes said. “Her laugh is contagious, and she is always laughing. Her love for everyone is evident, her friendship is invaluable, and she brings light wherever she goes.”

Terry James brings care, experience to OBU

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

If you were to sit in on one of associate professor of education and director of teacher education Dr. Terry James’s education classes, you would probably hear him say, “I think the teacher is the most important person in society today.”

James values education, learning and most of all, students.

James originally came to Oklahoma Baptist University in 2008 and served as an assistant professor of education.

During his time as an undergraduate student, James studied at Indiana State University and obtained a bachelor’s degree.

He completed a master’s program at Indiana University, and ultimately, a doctorate program at the University of Oklahoma.

James has always respected the profession of teaching and the function that it serves for society.

“I really decided in the eighth or ninth grade that I wanted to be a teacher,” James said. “I liked my teachers. I respected them. I thought that what they were doing was important. I guess I was fortunate, in a way, that I decided early.”

James is originally from Indiana, where he went to school.

“I majored in English, and taught English, Physical Education and coached some football and track in Indiana, then moved out to Oklahoma,” James said.

James has had many roles in the education system that vary in responsibility.

He taught in the public school system for many years, worked as both assistant superintendent and superintendent in different school districts.

When he was teaching in the public school, James taught English because of his love for literature.

“I thought, if I’m going to have to read all of this material, why not let it be something interesting and fun to read,” James said. “Would I rather read a chapter of a history textbook or would I rather read Dickens or Wordsworth? I’m actually reading the Canterbury Tales right now. I thought it would be more interesting and fun to read things that are considered great literature.”

James came to OBU after he retired from the public school system. He said he is very happy to be here working with future teachers.

“I can think of no greater privilege than to get to work with my future colleagues,” James said. “I am absolutely convinced that the teacher is the most important person in education.”

James is passionate about education as a system and as a deep need in our society. He said he believes that teachers are becoming even more influential and needed in society because of the functions that the schools serve today.

“I believe that the teacher is the most important person in our society right now, with everything that they are expected to do,” James said. “Teachers now have to analyze the deepest needs of a student and figure out how to respond to them. I have seen the role of the school increase over time, and the importance of the teacher, which was always important. So, what greater privilege is there than to get to work with my future colleagues?”

James currently teaches many education classes at OBU. He also serves as the director of the Teacher Education department.

Dr. James loves OBU and its students. He strongly believes that OBU prepares students to become great teachers.

“I think you all are wonderful,” James said. “I was involved in hiring maybe a thousand teachers over my career. I would hire you all in a second. I think the average OBU student is mature, a person of integrity, responsible and dependable. I just respect the students here, just who they are as people.”

Teacher Education students seem to appreciate Dr. James for all he does for the program.

“Dr. James really cares about you as a person and wants you to succeed,” freshman elementary education major Sadi Hostettler said. “I have learned so much more about our education system a how to become a great teacher.”

Blitz Week brings campus together for a cause

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Last week on Bison Hill was Blitz Week, a week focused on raising funds for a specific charity or cause.

This year, money was raised to help mitigate the cost of OBU’s Global Outreach trips, so that students can go out to many different parts of the world and serve people who are in need of the Gospel.

Currently, the co-chairs of Blitz Week are Braeden Mastin and Olivia Dudley.

“Blitz Week is a week in April every year dedicated to helping a charity/cause of our choice,” co-chair of Blitz Week Braeden Mastin said. “This year we focused on helping students afford GO trips. We strive to be light of the world by helping others, bring the campus together and to leave a positive impact on others.”

Last week’s events included a multitude of activities that raised money for the cause.

The first Blitz Week event was the Paintathon. Students gathered in the Gieger Center Sunday Night to paint canvases. The paintings were put up for auction all week in the Gieger Center. The starting bid for each painting was five dollars.

Another event that spanned the entire week was a campus-wide game of Humans versus Zombies. For two dollars, students could sign up to play the game.

Humans vs. Zombies trans-formed campus last week. Students and faculty had Nerf guns in hand, ready to defend themselves from the zombies.

To distinguish those who were playing the game, and which side they were on, players wore pink bandanas on their arm or on their head.

Humans could use their Nerf guns to stop a zombie from tagging them, which would cause them to switch sides and more their bandana.

Players often had to alter their plans so that they were not exposed outdoors in high traffic areas. Players could not be tagged on or off campus.

“The wildest experience I’ve had so far is when me and my friends, Sam and Noah, got surrounded by seven zombies in the library parking lot,” freshman Christian ministry major Silas Bell said. “We had to sprint from the library to Agee, and I thought I was going to die from exhaustion.”

Bell’s sprint must have been worthwhile, because at the time of the interview, he was still on the human side. On Friday night, the remaining humans and zombies gathered in the Oval for a final showdown to end the game.

Blitz Week also hosted a faculty versus varsity basketball game, an escape room in the library, a percentage night at Qdoba, trivia night with UCS and the Mr. Bison pageant.

The Mr. Bison pageant was held last Thursday in Yarborough Auditorium.

The contestants were Cole Kliewer, Caleb Newton, Caleb Dyer, Caleb Corff, Grady Liston, Jimi Parker, Joel Tetmeyer and Noah Graves.

The competition was hosted by Kirt Henderson, director of Student Success.

The judges of the competition were Resident Directors Kyle Opskar, Dayla Rowland, Lanie Allred, Tanner Roberts and Erin Gulserian.

The event began with a dance number featuring all of the contestants choreographed by Sarah Cordle, a sophomore cross-cultural ministry and sociology major.

“My experience with the Mr. Bison pageant was one for the books for sure,” Cordle said. “I have never choreographed before and most of the guys never learned a dance before, so that was interesting, to say the least, but they all worked hard to learn the dance. What made it so great is that they were having a great time doing it. It was so much fun watching them finally perform it and they all did a really great job!”

Then came the introduction of the contestants and their escorts. This also served as the formal wear category. Henderson’s introductions of the contestants included hilarious fun facts about each of them.

Next up came the talent portion of the pageant. Talents included, but were not limited to neck wrestling, cooking demonstrations, lightsaber reenactments, interpretive dancing with a puppy and more.

After the talent portion, the contestants went into the audience to collect money from their fans as votes for the audience favorite award.

Then, the final five were announced: Caleb Newton, Caleb Dyer, Caleb Corff, Grady Liston and Jimi Parker.

They moved on into an interview portion. Each contestant was asked a couple of questions.

After that, the judges deliberated, and the new Mr. Bison was crowned.

Caleb Dyer won third place. Caleb Corff won second place and the Audience Favorite award. Caleb Newton won Best Talent with his impressive neck wrestling. Taking home the big prize was Jimi Parker, who spent the entire competition dressed in a Nacho Libre costume.

For his talent, he gave the audience a cooking lesson involving raw hot dogs. “It has been extremely rewarding and fun leading and facilitating fun events, and bringing the campus all together,” Mastin said

Dr. Abigail Mace brings experience to OBU

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Dr. Abigail Mace is new to Bison Hill. She joined the faculty for the Fall semester of 2018.

Dr. Mace is an assistant professor of music and is currently the director of OBU’s Music Preparatory Department.

“I teach applied lessons, piano ensemble, piano accompanying and harpsichord,” Mace said.

Mace has a love for music, especially piano and harpsichord. Mace attended Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance.

She later attended the University of Texas at Austin to complete both a masters and doctoral program in Piano Performance.

“One thing that drew me to OBU was the fact that I had a similar background in my undergraduate experience,” Mace said. “The combination of strong academics and a strong music program was so similar to my undergraduate experience, and that drew me to OBU.”

Mace received the honor of being a recipient of a Full-bright Fellowship.

This program allows for recipients to study at an international school of their choice.

Mace chose to study at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in Holland during 2010 and 2011.

Mace said that the biggest challenge in this process was finding someone to sponsor her while living in the states.

“Through God’s grace, miraculously, it worked out,” Mace said. “I got a sponsor over at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague. The reason why I chose that particular school was that it has the largest early music program in the world. It has some of the top names in the whole field of Historically Informed Performance”

Historically informed performance, also known as HIP, seeks to know how music would have been performed in the time period that it was written or performed in, so that it can be performed in a manner truer to its time period in modern settings.

“[It] was a movement that started in the 1960s, that started to really flourish in the 1970s,” Mace said.

Mace is passionate about this area of study, and this movement. She said is a major reason why she chose to study at the Royal Conservatory of the Hauge.

“So, there’s this whole movement trying to perform music accurately, how the composers would have heard it, how the people of the time would have heard it,” Mace said. “My Fullbright Fellowship was to go and study harpsichord at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, with Jacques Ogg. He was my primary harpsichord instructor there.”

This field of music is still very popular today with many people in the community who love and care about the historical context surrounding classical music.

“It’s still a very popular area with many CDs of harpsichord music being put out all the time,” Mace said. “A lot of orchestral music is being recorded on historical instruments with gut strings, which has a totally different sound than the steel strings that we have nowadays. They don’t project as much, but they have a warm, rich tone to them.”

Mace believes that God had a major part in her travel and study to Holland and other European countries.

“It was amazing to be over in another country, living there, studying with these people that I’ve heard about,” Mace said. “It was just incredible. God did a lot of amazing things in my life during that time, too. He gave me a wonderful church home, Trinity International Baptist Church…I got travel to Italy, Germany, Belgium, and of course, all throughout Holland while I was over there in Europe.”

Mace is grateful and happy to be part of the Oklahoma Baptist University community.

Faculty speak at Half-Past Three

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Thursday, March 28, the English Department hosted this month’s Half-Past Three gathering.

Half-Past Three is a time for English major, minors, faculty and anyone interested in the subject to set aside a little bit of time to hear from English department faculty or guest speakers and meet and spend time with those at OBU who have a love for English, reading and writing.

This event provides everyone with the opportunity to discuss with English faculty in a more relaxed setting than the classroom.

Four English faculty members were present at this March’s gathering: Crouch-Mathis professor of Literature and English Dr. Benjamin Myers, assistant professor of English Dr. Lindsey Panxhi, Associate Dean of College of Humanities and Social Sciences Division Chair, Language and Literature and professor of English Dr. Christopher Hair and associate professor of English and Spanish Dr. Charles Swadley.

Held in a room in the upper Geiger Center, this month’s gathering was focused on why students should, at the very least, consider being an English major or minor. Myers led an insightful discussion over the topic.

Myers was formerly the Poet Laureate for the State of Oklahoma. He currently teaches a multitude of English classes at OBU, including Western Civilization and Creative Writing.

During his lecture, Myers gave information about becoming an English major at OBU and defended the major against criticisms it: that it is unreasonable or impractical.

Myers encouraged students to pursue fields and careers that they love, and ones that they will want to do their entire lives.

For many students, English and reading are things that they feel a pull to, but do not pursue as viable career options due to the lack of understanding about the possibility that having an English degree brings.

Often, there is much apprehension surrounding a student pursuing an English degree from a parent.

“What you’re doing in your education is laying a foundation,” Myers said.

He said that having an English degree will open up job possibilities because of the writing, communication and critical thinking skills that a student would learn during the process of obtaining that degree.

It is also important to note that English is a very popular undergraduate degree for those planning to study law in the future.

Other beneficial aspect about Half Past Three is the opportunity to ask questions of the English faculty. They are genuinely interested in what students have to say and want to help find an answer to those questions.

Panxhi elaborated on a question from a student. The question was “Why minor in English?”

Panxhi cited many similar reasons to Myers. She also encouraged students to fulfill their dreams and passions in the literary world.

Panxhi also shared her experience of wanting to do something with reading and writing when she was in high school. She went to John Brown University and pursued English as a career.

Another option for students who love literature and English is to take courses as electives.

This gives students an avenue to explore their love for the subject without having to commit to an English degree.

The faculty presented important information regarding what is required to minor in English.

According to resources posted on okbu.edu, the English minor requires 18 to 19 hours of selected English courses. There are many different course options to choose from to fulfill these requirements.

Overall, it is evident that those present at Half Past Three are passionate about what they do and teach and are excited to share the possibilities of English with students.

At the end of the event, students were encouraged to stay and discuss their thoughts with faculty members, who were happy to discuss student’s academic plans with them.

Dr. Donnelly brings experience to Bison Hill

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Dr. Paul Donnelly has a PhD in Criminology and is currently an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Oklahoma Baptist University.  

Donnelly studied sociology in his undergraduate years at Biola University in California. He earned a Master of Science in Public Administration at the University of Texas at Tyler. Finally, Donnelly earned his doctorate degree in Criminology at the University of Texas at Dallas.  

Prior to working in education, Donnelly worked in the criminal justice field for many years. He mainly worked in juvenile field of criminal justice.  

“I had an adjunct teacher who was a juvenile probation officer, and one of the assignments was to either write a term paper, or you could volunteer with one of the kids on her caseload,” Donnelly said. “Well, that was easy for me. I didn’t want to do a paper if I could avoid it.” 

Donnelly began volunteering with one of the kids, who was eventually arrested. It was during this time that he found his calling.  

“Then I started seeing him in juvenile hall,” Donnelly said. “I was pretty good at relating to this kid. I was kind of a bad kid in my own way, not criminally necessarily, but rebellious. It was like a light came on: this is what I want to do with my life. So, that led to a couple of part-time jobs working with kids that were involved in the system.” 

Many of the children Donnelly had worked with in his early career in California were either gang members or on the path to becoming one. 

“I was really good at it and I really enjoyed it,” Donnelly said. “After I graduated from college I moved to Texas, from Southern California, and got a job working for the Dallas County Juvenile Probation Department in the detention center.” 

He thrived in his job and received many promotions. He spent this next period of his life working in positions that gave him more and more responsibility, and he also went to school to obtain a graduate degree.  

“When I finished that I got a job offer as a chief probation officer in Corpus Christie,” Donnelly said. “I was there for three years. I really love Corpus Christie. It was one of my better jobs. Then, I was hired to run the largest juvenile correctional facility on the East Coast, which happened to be in Maryland.”  

Donnelly has held numerous positions in the criminal justice field that carry great power and esteem. He spent nearly 30 years working in the field, and then made a switch to education. When Donnelly retired from the criminal justice field, he went back to school to earn his doctorate degree.  

“I went back to school and got my PhD at the University of Texas at Dallas in Criminology, which studies the correlates of crime, because I wanted to teach,” Donnelly said.  “I had always hoped to teach so that I could take 30 years of actual experience and combine it with what I learned in the sciences, and then present it to students so they can be prepared to be Christian leaders in the 21st century.” 

One of the many classes that Donnelly teaches is Introduction to Sociology, which many freshmen and sophomore students take. In addition to an introductory textbook, Donnelly employs the use of “Generous Justice” by Timothy Keller to intertwine faith and content learning. He also teaches criminal justice courses. 

“I’ve been here six years, and the first three years I was teaching sociology and preparing a criminal justice major,” Donnelly said. “For the last three years we’ve had the criminal justice and the forensic psychology majors.” 

Donnelly hopes to prepare and inspire leaders who might come out of his classes. Amber Rodriguez is a freshman political science major who has taken class with Dr. Donnelly.  

“My greatest take away from Dr. Donnelly’s lectures was the importance of diverse worldviews and experiences,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone experiences life differently and that can be a very valuable thing to consider when learning. Being aware that there is more to life than what we know is the greatest tool and lesson that Dr. Donnelly has given me.” 

Students and faculty alike acknowledge that the method in which Donnelly teaches is helpful and thought-provoking.  

I appreciate that Dr. Donnelly encourages us to learn from each other, his Socratic approach really opens up the classroom to engage in discussion,” Rodriguez said. “He really makes it easy to find a connection to the lesson on a personal level rather than feeling like it’s just test material.” 

Dr. Kaine Ezell, an associate professor of English at OBU, shares similar thoughts. 

“Dr. Donnelly is a great professor because he himself is a seeker of knowledge and wisdom,” Ezell said. “Because he is seeking, it allows him to provide his students with space to seek solutions to problems based on their own experience and observation. He does not see himself as one who lectures students on the responses he thinks are appropriate to a given question, but he encourages students to provide input into seeking solutions.” 

Learning languages creates opportunity

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Last week was National Foreign Language Week. The week celebrates the learning of languages and culture.

Oklahoma Baptist University currently requires all students to complete at least 2 modern foreign language classes. Most students take French or Spanish to fulfill this requirement.

Some students see the requirement of studying a second language to be unnecessary, but that is not the case. Learning a second language has benefits across many areas of life.

“Many students sadly don’t understand the value of knowing another language, and how beneficial it can be,” freshman physics major Nathan Murillo said. “I know many of the conversations I’ve had with students on campus about language classes has gone along the lines of ‘I’m never going to use this. Why do I need to learn it?’”

Dr. Lyda Murillo Wilbur, assistant professor of Spanish, has an answer to that very question.

“Learning a world language such as Spanish, French, or German opens the door for students to look at what is happening in the world, not only as a mere spectator but also as someone who can be a part of that world,” Wilbur said. “Without language acquisition visiting a world country is as if the student is going to a museum where he or she perceives the world from a distance and cannot feel, smell, taste, or move around what he or she sees. The student does not get to fully experience the world or be fully empowered to influence it.”

There are benefits to learning additional languages that reach beyond personal use.

“When I’m speaking to someone who’s native language is one I can speak, it makes communication much easier, and people are that much more willing to talk with you,” Murillo said. “Knowing a second language also brings a unique aspect to job applications and internship applications that employers like to see. I realize that is sometimes thought of as an overused cliché, but I have experienced how much it helps personally. Along with that, knowing a second language makes it significantly easier to pick up a third, fourth, fifth, and beyond.”

Kristin Dodd is a senior multilingual communications major deeply understands the importance of language learning. She can currently speak 4 different languages: English, Spanish, French, and Mandarin.

“I absolutely believe it is important to know more than one language,” Dodd said. “I think Americans often don’t see the need to learn a second language, as we live in a huge country. In Europe, if you drive for ten hours, you can be in a few different countries that all speak different languages, but if you drive for ten hours in the USA, you might never leave Texas.”
The United States is home to a culture that is heavily influenced by various cultures and people of various backgrounds, which makes learning languages other than English very significant and useful.

“Our country as we know it is built on immigrants and we live in an increasingly globalized culture and economy,” Dodd said. “Learning another language is not only practical but opens doors in communicating with that world that surrounds us.”

It is obviously very helpful to know the language that is spoken in the country that you are travelling in.

“Learning a language when travelling is not a necessity, but it is a benefit,” Dodd said. “You get better prices in the markets and are less likely to be cheated by taxi drivers. You learn how to navigate places that are more a part of the everyday life of people around the world. Iconic places like the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and the Statue of Liberty are popular for a reason, but speaking a local language allows you to see and learn more about the local culture than many tourists never see.

Here on Bison Hill there are many bilingual and multilingual students and faculty.

“I was raised in a Spanish speaking country, the Republic of Panama,” Wilbur said. “At the time less than 14% of Panamanians spoke English. Therefore, my first language is Spanish. My experience learning English has been a journey. I came with my family to the United States in 1981 and I was immersed in a school where English was the only language spoken. Not many people looked like me or spoke Spanish. Back then the world felt different and was seen through a different set of lenses.”

OBU currently offers degrees in Spanish, multilingual communication and global studies, with many different minors to choose from, one of them being TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of a Second Language). This is similar to what is often called ELL or ESL.

Dr. Wilbur went to a school that offered English learning classes.

“I remember I had a kind teacher who took interest in helping me learn English, Mr. Gonzalez,” Wilbur said. “At the time, there were not many books in both languages, and the internet did not exist; therefore, learning American traditions or folktales, was not as easily accessible.”

OBU’s mission statement is: “As a Christian liberal arts university, OBU transforms lives by equipping students to pursue academic excellence, integrate faith with all areas of knowledge, engage a diverse world, and live worthy of the high calling of God in Christ.”

Learning a second language could prove to be essential to engaging a diverse world. Dr. Wilbur wants to encourage students to seize every learning opportunity they have during their time at OBU.

“Language is a tool,” Wilbur said. “More specifically, this tool can be used as a key to open new doors to new and exciting places all over the United States and the World. There are people groups from all over the world including the United States who are waiting to meet them; new people who also need to know about Jesus!

Wilbur said she wanted to challenge every OBU student to find ways to learn another world language and not to be afraid to listen, speak, read and write.

“All students should take advantage of the language classes offered at OBU and take the time to travel and learn another world language,” Wilbur said.

Kerr Resident Assistants build community

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Resident Assistants are students who live and work in residence halls to assist with issues or questions that may arise with the residents that live on their halls. They work the desk in their building and have their door open for a certain amount of time during the week. 

According to Oklahoma Baptist University’s Residential Life Handbook, “RAs and CLs [Community Leaders] are meant to assist residents in ways such as: answering questions, listening, assisting with roommate conflict, referrals, encouraging community on the hallway, and organizing hall/apt activities.” 

Kerr Residence Center is home to eight RAs, two on each floor. Many chose to become an RA because of their love for the Kerr community. 

“I wanted to become an RA because I love the dorm community, and I wanted to continue living in the dorm while instigating intentional relationships with incoming freshman girls,” sophomore and Kerr RA Emily Boyne said.  

Other RAs express the same sentiment.  

“I wanted to become an RA because I really wanted to be a leader on campus and build relationships with new freshman coming into OBU, and to walk alongside them through their first year on campus,” junior and Kerr RA Meghan Bowers said.  

Resident Assistants create a community among their halls. 

I wanted to become an RA once I realized what a great platform it was to build loving and lasting relationships with people at OBU,” sophomore Julianne Ford said. I wanted to make a direct positive impact on girls’ lives and show them the love and compassion that God has shown me.” 

In Kerr, it is typical to see RAs and their residents hanging out at the desk, watching a movie in the lobby, or taking part in a hall event. The majority of the time, RAs are responsible for making those events happen.  

I love to do movie nights, game nights, and dinners together,” Boyne said. I usually get a general consensus of what sounds interesting to them, and then I text the group chat, put it on my whiteboard, write it on the bathroom mirrors- anything to get the word out.” 

Other RAs hold similar events, as well as many others. 

The events I tend to organize are simply movie nights where me and my girls will get some ice cream and turn on a movie,” Bowers said. “I also schedule a day out of the week where me and my hall have a hall dinner. The semester can get really crazy so many of my events are simple ones.” 

Bowers held an event for her residents in the fall semester that is particularly interesting. 

“Last semester, along with the help of my friend Bryson over in Agee, we played a game called ultimate cow tongue, which is ultimate frisbee, but with an actual cow tongue,” Bowers said. “It sounds gross, but it was very exciting! If I have an idea for an event, I usually plan it about two weeks ahead so that my girls can take off work if they want to.” 

At the beginning of each semester, the Kerr RAs determine what kind of events their residents would like to participate in. Julianne Ford hosts many fun hall events for her residents. 

“The largest events we have had were Taco Tuesday, Friendsgiving, Café Disco, and Galentine’s Day,” Ford said. “We are having an 80s-themed Skate Night, taking a trip to Pop’s in Arcadia, and going out to a fancy dinner in OKC this semester. I plan the events based on what my girls indicate they are interested in on the Information Sheets we give them at our first meeting. I plan all of my events before the semester starts and give them schedules so they can plan ahead.” 

As so many know, maintaining a job while taking a full class load can be difficult at times.  

“The most challenging aspect of being an RA is managing my time,” Ford said. “Being an RA is much more than a full-time job because you never leave your place of work. It is difficult to close my door and admit that I need time to work on my school and myself.” 

When RAs work the desk, they are able to do homework if there is not something else to be done. 

When we are at the desk, any resident that comes up to the desk is our priority,” Bowers said. Yes, we can work on homework then, but the residents of Kerr come first. Luckily, we are able to do work at the desk because the long weekend shifts would be very boring if we couldn’t do anything while being there. I try and manage my time wisely before work for the day and try and get the bigger assignments done first and save the smaller assignments that require less attention for when I am at the desk.” 

Working with the same people throughout the year builds relationships and friendships between the RAs and residents and can teach lessons.  

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned by being an RA is that if God calls you to do something, He will equip you,” Boyne said. “God called me to apply even though I felt completely inadequate. But obeying is so much more important than listening to self-doubts. God has given me the words to say in every situation when I have felt speechless. If you trust God to do what He has called you to do, then He will be glorified.” 

The Kerr RAs find it rewarding to see their residents succeeding. 

“The most rewarding aspect of getting to be an RA is the fact that I get a front row seat in all that God is doing in the lives of my residents as well as the other RAs,” Head Kerr RA Abigail Wendt said. “It is so neat to simply have conversation and hear how God has moved in hard situations, or simply is so prevalent in peoples’ lives, and while this can and should happen everywhere, being an RA has presented unique opportunities to connect with and hear from people that I would not have had if not in this position.”  

 

OBU grad is SPS Teacher of the Year

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Katie Thompson is a kindergarten teacher at Shawnee Early Childhood Center and was named Shawnee Public School’s teacher of the year. She has been teaching kindergarten for six consecutive years at SECC. She graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University. 

Thompson is honored to receive this title. 

“I am still recovering from the shock of being selected as Shawnee Public Schools Teacher of the Year. This recognition comes at a critical point in my teaching career,” Thompson said.  

Thomspon credits her success and decision to become a teacher to the adults in her life who guided her way.  

I have always said the adults in my life: my teachers, caregivers, mentors, and parents inspired me to pursue teaching as a career, but my students and my own daughter motivate me to keep teaching” Thompson said. “Because I idolized my educators so much, I felt like I was not good enough to become a teacher, so I settled for becoming an astronaut.” 

Thompson had a mentor in her later high school years that helped her find that her true calling was to education. They often went on walks and discussed. 

“One day on one of our walks she told me to interlace my fingers together and hold my hands,” Thompson said. “Then she asked me to describe how it feels to hold my fingers and hands this way. I told her, ‘It just feels right and natural. My hands fit together perfectly this way.’ ‘That,” she said, ‘is what your calling in life should feel like. It should fit you perfectly and it should feel natural and right.’ That was a profound moment for me. Before I could let go of my hands, I instantly knew that I was called to teach.” 

It is evident that Thompson cares deeply about the children in her classroom. She believes that relationship is an important part of education. 

“Teaching is my creative outlet and I am drawn to the challenge of meeting my students’ needs,” Thompson said. “But for me, the most rewarding aspect of teaching is the relationships I have with my students.” 

Thompson also ensures that students feel safe and secure in her classroom. 

“My students come from diverse backgrounds and many of them have childhoods that are very different from my own,” Thompson said. “I know I am the only safe adult for some of my kids and that drives me to be present with them every day. I could tell you stories that would break a grown man’s heart. My kids set my priorities straight. Each day before I get out of my car and walk into my school, I remind myself, Someone in there needs me to open my heart and be 100% present today. I am far from perfect, but I try to do just that. What I have learned is that whatever you offer to others, you strengthen in yourself.” 

Kindergarten is often the first time students are in a traditional classroom, and Thompson hopes to ease the transition for her students.  

“For many of my students, my classroom is their first experience in school. I get to give them their first habits and skills as little students and tiny citizens,” Thompson said. 

Thompson also gets to witness her students experience many things for the first time.  

“It is exciting, terrifying, outrageous, and downright hilarious to teach kindergarten,” Thompson said. “I also get the front row seat to a five-year-old’s first time going to the zoo, watching a seed sprout, seeing an airplane up close, and holding a dinosaur bone. There are moments throughout the year when you know your students are going to remember this for the rest of their lives. I get to create those exciting memories and experiences. 

Thompson enjoyed her time in school and had good experiences with those around her.  

“I am a product of the public school system in Oklahoma,” Thompson said. I have always felt comfortable in the school setting and I used to cry when school was out for holidays or breaksI have always loved learning and being around my teachers and peers. I was the kid who had to work hard to learn, it did not always come easy to me. Regardless, I still made good grades and was the best student I could be. I was very fortunate to have such a positive school experience from daycare all the way through college.” 

Thompson hopes that people will stay informed about the issues that are surrounding public education in the state of Oklahoma.  

“As an educator I feel like it is my responsibility to educate my family and friends about what is taking place in my classroom and how the way my community votes impacts myself and my students,” Thompson said. “I have open conversations about my students’ needs and how bills and policies can affect them, both positively and negatively. The recent walkout was very hard for me and I still have mixed feelings about it. However, I am so pleased to hear more people talking about, protecting, and supporting public education.” 

With so much still up in the air regarding education at the state level, Thompson encourages people to research and learn about the things that affect education and its funding. 

“When a supporter asks me what I need most for my classroom, my first response is always this: Get to know your representatives and have conversations about public education with them,” Thompson said. “We need you to go to your polling place informed about the bills and issues on both the local and state levels. Our kids are depending on your ballot to make their future sustainable.” 

Admissions: The road to Bison Hill

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Many high school seniors are in the difficult process of narrowing down their college search. There are many factors to consider when choosing a college, and quality admission counselors can make all the difference in making a student feel informed and comfortable during an especially stressful time.  

For every student at Oklahoma Baptist University, the journey to becoming a Bison begins in the admissions department. OBU currently has twelve admissions counselors and an event coordinator. 

“The span of admissions overlaps.” admissions counselor Jordyn Woodward said. “We start working really intently with [high school] juniors coming June 1, but we are also very intently working with seniors on move in and all of that until August 1. I even have worked with freshmen and sophomores, so it depends on when the student starts looking into college.” 

large majority of OBU admissions counselors were once OBU students, who all have unique journeys and stories.  

“As the only admissions staff member that didn’t attend OBU, my path here sounds strange,” Assistant Director of Admissions Justin Moore said. “But honestly, I’m in this job because I didn’t go to school here. God took my path through some disappointments, with my intention to go to medical school, that ultimately led me to be able to invest in the lives of families as they prepare for college, which is one of the biggest transitions you make in life. Ultimately, going to a different school is what led me to OBU admissions.” 

Events and Visits Coordinator Kalyn Fullbright has a long history with the admissions department. 

“I worked in the admissions office as an undergrad,” Fullbright said. “I was the co-chair of The Herd. I really enjoyed getting to be a part of the college decision process for prospective students as a student. Understanding how transformative my time at OBU was further inspired me to pursue a position in our University Admissions department post-grad.” 

Admissions counselors are often charged with the difficult tasks of dispelling misconceptions about OBU. 

“The most challenging aspect of working in admissions is combating preconceived notions about not only OBU, but Christian education,” Moore said. “When students realize what kind of relationship they will develop with their professors, I’ve crossed the biggest hurdle in willingness to consider OBU.” 

As is the case at nearly every school, students are especially concerned about the cost of attending OBU.  

“I think a lot of the time people think that a private college is pretty unattainable, but in all actuality, sometimes it works out to where it is actually fairly affordable,” Woodward said.  

 Each counselor serves a group of students from different geographic area. The department mainly serves incoming freshman and transfer students. 

“We have twelve admissions counselors,” Woodward said. The way that we do our jobs, it requires a lot more than usual. We are a lot more personalized and intentional with our students, so we have to work in smaller areas.” 

The admissions department holds numerous events throughout the academic year, and even in the summer in an effort to get students to Bison Hill. 

“While we host students on campus in many ways, we mainly plan three types of events: Bison Day, Night on the Hill, and Preview Day,” said Fullbright. “Each of these events takes careful planning and preparation, but they don’t happen without the rest of campus pitching in. What I didn’t understand before I took this position was exactly how much our faculty and staff give of their time and energy in recruiting our students alongside our admissions staff. Additionally, some of my best friends on campus include our facilities staff. They tirelessly work and encourage me all at the same time.” 

These events allow students to get an up-close, real look at college life at OBU. 

“Bison Day allows our guests to act as if they were a student for a day,” Fullbright said. “This allows them to go to class, chapel, and eat lunch in the caf. Night on the Hill provides a more in-depth look at our campus as students are able to real-life residential life. Finally, Preview Day offers a buffet of options for our guests to choose from. Students and their families are able to choose options during three breakout sessions.” 

The most attended admissions event is typically Preview Day. Counselors stress the importance of visiting a college before a student commits to it.   

Individual campus visits are some of my favorite things our prospective students get to do,” Fullbright said. “Each student gets a personalized tour and a visit with her or his admissions counselor. This offers an intimate experience for our students to learn much about the college experience and what the next four years could be like. 

The admissions department is home to a student group called The Herd, who work in admissions and help with events and tours. The Crew is a new volunteer organization for those looking to help get students to Bison Hill. 

“The Herd and, our newest organization on campus, The Crew, have been one of my favorite parts of the job,” Fullbright said. “They make my life more fun and they make this job so much easier. They help me and our staff in a million different ways–we honestly couldn’t do it without them! Their perspective of recruitment helps to motivate me and understand more about the students that will be on our campus in the future. These students consistently motivate and encourage me–you should meet all of them.” 

Ultimately, the goal of an admissions counselor is to get a student to where they are meant to be. 

“Seeing new students actually get on campus, get involved, and begin to not need us is easily the most rewarding,” Moore said. “As odd as it sounds, the day I realize I’m not needed is the day I know I’ve done my job well.”