McCurtain GEAR UP students tour OU & visit Oklahoma City National Memorial


WILBURTON, OK (Dec. 13, 2016) – McCurtain GEAR UP students recently toured the University of Oklahoma. Graduate Assistant with the Office of Admissions and Recruitment Hunter Guarnera spoke with the students in Jacobson Hall Visitor Center before the tour began. The students watched a short video about OU and what the University of Oklahoma stands on. Guarnera pointed out on the slideshow the importance that OU stands for “WE are SOONERS, WE are INNOVATORS, WE are FAMILY, and WE are GLOBAL CITIZENS.”

OU was founded in 1890 by David Ross Boyd and now has 20,000+ undergraduate programs being offered. There are 575 faculty members with an 18 to 1 student to teacher ratio with honors classes having around 32 students in each class.

Hunter informed the students of various campus organizations and academic programs. There are 400+ student–led organizations and this number is always increasing. As long as there are at least 9 students wanting to participate in the club, it can be created. OU has 32 national titles with the last three being in women’s softball, men’s gymnastics and women’s gymnastics. All activities are free on campus with a student ID except for the men’s basketball and football games.

OU is a global campus with students from over 120 countries. There are also 1000+ students studying abroad. Guarnera explained that OU has set a goal for the next 3 years is to have at least 50% of its students study abroad. With this opportunity to study abroad, the student gets a flat rate of 15 class hours from OU so you get to travel across the country to get an education there for the price of an education here. He also discussed various scholarships, financial aid, and the ACT. Guarnera stressed the importance of volunteer work and campus involvement.

As the students were led through campus by OU sophomore business major Nick McGee, they learned of the history of the campus buildings, the myths of the campus and some events that take place on campus. Students were led to the William Bizzell Library where they had a firsthand look at the Great Reading Room and learned about the different benefits the library has to offer.

“There is no talking allowed in the Great Reading Room and it is absolutely beautiful,” said McCurtain senior Shakota Yeary.

McGee led the students by the Science Hall, the Chemistry Building, the Fred Jones Jr. Memorial Art Center and Gaylord Hall—the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications—where the McCurtain students were able to see products that OU students prepared and were on display.

Students were then lead through the Oklahoma Memorial Union where there are places to eat and lounge. McGee walked the students by the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium but due to construction, the students were not able to enter the facility.

Students then traveled to Oklahoma City to tour the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The memorial site was built to remember the bombing that took place at 9:02 am on April 19, 1995 at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. On the same day in 1993, compounds in Waco, Texas, were burned to the ground, killing more than 75 people. The attack on the Murrah Building was in retaliation. Agencies within the Murrah Building were the United States Customs Services, United States Secret Services Agency, Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, Veterans Administrations, Department of Health & Human Services, Drug Enforcement Administration and General Accounting Office. There was also a daycare housed in this building for the working parents.

“It is so sad to read about and see the pictures of the people that lost their lives,” said McCurtain senior Devin Blaylock. “But the kids break my heart.”

Students walked throughout the museum to learn about Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, the men, women and children that lost their lives, the survivors, the families that lost a loved one and even the stories of the community that was impacted by this act of terrorism. The students saw items from the destruction and heard stories. There are new interactive items for individuals to use to gain more information on that day that changed not only Oklahoma but America.

“I don’t understand how someone can do this to someone else,” said Marlin Rocha. “I just don’t understand.

“Visiting a large university gives my students a chance to see it is possible to achieve any goal they set their dreams to reach,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Dara Self. “I’m thankful my GEAR UP students get the opportunity to experience the Oklahoma City National Memorial. It is touching to see the impact it has made on their hearts. They may not remember when it happened, but they know the impact now.”

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature.

McCurtain students listen as to OU sophomore Nick McGee explains the different levels in the library and the benefits to studying here. McGee also explained to the students that there is no talking in the Great Room—not even a whisper.

McCurtain GEAR UP students gather in front of the Reflection Pool at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Pictured are: Marlin Rocha, Cassidy Collins, Paiden Arnwine, Wade Restine, McKayla Lovell, McCurtain Lead Teacher Veronica Lovell, Kendra Blaylock, Shakota Yeary, Devin Blaylock, Gillian Pennington, Tanner Bowden, Ashton Culwell, Triston Marris, Brylea Cooper, JP Free, Wesley Paul, Kaylee Franklin, Richard Bausworth, Brooklyn Nixon, Ashlie Lovell, Bailey Booth, Hallie Lovell, Tyler Satterfield, Trace Murdock and GEAR UP Education Coordinator Dara Self.

McCurtain senior girls standing by the Reflection Pool at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Pictured are Brylea Cooper, Gillian Pennington, Devin Blaylock, Shakota Yeary and Ashton Culwell.

McCurtain students gather around one of the interactive tables where the students can tap on an area and information pops up about that area before the bombing took place. Memorial Education Volunteer Carol Red explained each area to the students and answered questions they had. Pictured are: Marlin Rocha, Cassidy Collins, Ashton Culwell, JP Free, Wade Restine, Brylea Cooper, Bailey Booth, Kendra Blaylock and Memorial Education Volunteer Carol Red.

McCurtain senior Gillian Pennington reads about a survivor of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing that lost her leg to survive. A doctor had to amputate her leg with a pocket knife. Her sister and two children didn’t survive.

“This story is such a touching story and I can’t keep from crying but I can’t stop reading it,” said Pennington.

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