First Year Adventure
First Year Adventure Begins for Honors, 2011
Back to campus not only means back to the books, but back to the city. Oklahoma City sites were the text for learning by 40 students from across the U.S. and around the world as the OC Honors program launched its 2011 First Year Adventure, in which students will connect classroom learning and community engagement. The event was facilitated by Ben Langford, OC’s Director of the Center for Global Mission. Langford is a former missionary to Uganda.
Students first were asked to consider the idea of place and how Christ calls them to fully engage the world. Sitting in beautiful parks around the Oklahoma Land Run Memorial, near the Oklahoma River and canal walk, the students could view both the land run sculpture installation and the looming construction cranes of Devon Tower. “We began our day in a location where students could consider ‘staking their claim’ both in terms of the past and the future,” said Scott LaMascus, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Ben Langford asked the students to consider the difference between merely aspiring to a title and aspiring to a testimony that would make a greater and deeper impact.”
At each stop, students were asked to reflect on their own aspiration to complete an undergraduate degree and to take their places as Christian leaders. One student wrote, “Part of the fun of college is deciding what ‘piece of land’ you are going to claim. I don’t know exactly..." Another wrote, “I am going to ‘stake my claim’ in medicine..." Another reflected, “When I think of people involved in the land run, I can see a people who were never satisfied with their current state..." I should always be pushing and yearning for a better life. I should always be striving for a better relationship with God, regardless of the risk to comfort or convenience.”
Another stop for students in project was at the Walnut Street Bridge connecting Bricktown with the Deep Deuce neighborhood, where they were asked to encounter the poem “Deep Second” by Oklahoma City writer Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man. Ellison grew up near the site and has written about his return to Oklahoma City in Trading Twelves. Of course, prior to its current redevelopment, Deep Deuce was a segregated neighborhood. At the neighborhood once associated with Ellison and the jazz of Charlie Parker, students were asked to think about how an important element of maturation is dealing with conflicts, the past, and seeing a brighter future ahead through faith and community.
Finally, students visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial, where the U.S. Parks service has created a memorial to victims of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building at 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995. Students were asked to spend time at the reflecting pool located between two walls labeled “9:01” and “9:03”. Langford asked each student to walk around the pool and take an opportunity to look at their individual reflection in the water. Later, students wrote about the “defining moments” of their lives.
After their trip into the heart of the city, students returned to campus and former Oklahoma City mayor Kirk Humphreys addressed the students at a barbeque dinner hosted by OC President Dr. Mike O’Neal and his wife, Nancy. Humphreys reflected on his own life growing up in Oklahoma, his optimism for the future, and the key role of the faith of the people of Oklahoma in facing challenges. “Sometimes leaders today identify themselves as Christians when they’re running for office and we’d all be better off if they spent more time thinking Christianly in their leadership,” Humphreys said.
The day’s activities ended with brownie sundaes in the cafe of the new Honors House at Davisson Hall, a newly-renovated residence which is the hub of the living/learning community in Honors. The evening devotional was led by Taylor Murphy, a Music major from Chandler, AZ, and Logan Stringer, a Biology major from Colleyville, TX.
The Honors First Year Adventure is not a one-day activity, but includes “collaborations with many of the state’s leading cultural institutions” said LaMascus. For example, during this academic year all Honors students will attend the Oklahoma City Philharmonic as a group as a co-curricular involvement for their music history strand; during study of the Italian Renaissance, they visit the Kress Collection of the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa; during their study of the Impressionist and post-Impressionist era in art, they attend the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art; and as they study the Modernist movement in art, they visit the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. “We are so blessed that the administrations of each of these Oklahoma institutions welcome us into their amazing collections, environments, and performances. In addition to these co-curricular trips we conduct each year, the Adventure also includes taking advantage of one-time opportunities to catalyze the students’ learning,” said LaMascus. For example, students will visit “Passages”, a special fall exhibit at the OKCMOA illustrating the history of the Bible. Weekly Symposium meetings with guest, faculty, and student speakers also fill out the annual First Year Adventure in Honors. Past Symposium speakers have included Civil Rights attorney Fred Gray, astronaut Douglas Wheelock, and Constitutional Historian Rufus Fears.
The OC Honors program is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council and hosts more than 130 students from all of the Universities colleges in a core-based, cohort system designed for exceptionally prepared and motivated students. The Honors Core at OC includes six team-taught seminars led by the University’s teaching scholars. Each year about 25% of the students are National Merit Scholars and the average ACT score of entering Honors students is above 31. Recent Honors alumni have been accepted into graduate schools including Stanford University, professional programs such as the OU School of Law, and executive and professional placements with leading corporations. An Honors Summer Academy provides inspirational learning opportunities for students following the freshman year of high school.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Jim Baird