Freshman year seems like it happened a lifetime ago, and with all of the experiences that I’ve packed into these past three and a half years, it very well could be. However, one experience that stands out from that year is the Pink and Black Ball. The Pink and Black Ball is organized every year by the Women’s Outreach Center and raises money for breast health awareness programming at the university. The dress code is semi-formal and everyone is encouraged to wear pink, black, or a combination of the two!

Right before the night of the ball, I realized that I didn’t own any dress suitable for the occasion. That gave me the perfect excuse to shop! I went with my roommate and our best guy friend, who we decided to share as our date. That year, the ball was held at the Natural History Museum, which is just south of campus. The main area in the museum was outfitted with a dance floor and pink and black décor. Everyone was just starting to get on the dance floor, and we didn’t hesitate to join in on the fun.

We spent the night dancing, eating way too much delicious food, and taking pictures. I remember dancing in heels for about four hours, which of course I regretted the minute I walked out of the museum. Despite the foot pain, I giddily ran around my friends and couldn’t stop talking about how much fun the night had been. The Pink and Black Ball should be on everyone’s list of events to attend.

Tatyana Gubareva

Art History and Psychology

Yukon, OK

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10923227_648305935298198_149904853308503585_nI have officially been in Italy for a month and a half, and I couldn’t be enjoying my time abroad more! My weeks have been filled with classes, traveling on the weekend, teaching English to some Italian friends, and getting used to life here in Arezzo Italy. My good friend and roommate, Adriana, always talk about how a year ago, I would have never imagined myself studying abroad for a whole semester. I kept going back and forth between actually taking the step to move away for four months. Now that I’m here, I couldn’t imagine not coming! I know I would have been filled with remorse and regret. It has been a whirlwind of experiences, memories, and lots of lessons being learned.

The list of places I have traveled to so far has been endless (Venice, Florence, Rome, Barcelona, Padua, & more!). In a few weeks, I’ll be attending Spring Break in Santorini, Greece, and then flying to the south of France…WHAT?! Life is so cool, and I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given to live out my dream of traveling! Sometimes, my semester abroad feels like a complete vacation (but don’t tell that to my mom). Even though I have been traveling around the world, I have made sure to keep my classes a priority.

At OU Arezzo, I am taking Art History, Migration to Italy, and an Italian Cultural Literacy class. I have thoroughly enjoyed traveling to many different places for Art History (next week, we get to see the statue of David created by Michelangelo…I may pass out). In our Migration to Italy class, we learn about Italians who have migrated to different countries, and people who are migrating to Italy as well. Our Italian Cultural Literacy class focuses on learning the Italian language and the history of Italy, specifically in Arezzo. My classes have kept me incredibly engaged, and I love being able to learn from some of the greatest professors OU has to offer. The learning environment at OUA truly adds to the experience of studying abroad.

The friends I have made here in Italy are some of the coolest people I have ever met! Being able to travel the world together, or study for midterms at our favorite brunch voucher place (Bar Stefano, yum) has kept the homesickness at bay. We have created timeless memories together, and we still have two months to go! I cannot wait to see what the rest of this semester brings. My next update will be after my lovely week spent on the islands of Greece!

Ciao bella!

Blessing Ikpa

The University of Oklahoma ‘16

Criminology & Human Relations

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Reflecting on my time spent here at OU, I have started to think about where I was really able to enjoy myself on campus. No other areas come to mind more than the Student Life office. Student Life is a place where friendships are made, lasting relationships are formed, and leaders are born.

When I first started at OU I was a bit reserved. Having previously had my friends from high school, I found no need to go out and meet new people. Then I joined Campus Activities Council Crew, advised through the Student Life office, and this allowed me to meet one of my first advisors in this location. This relationship became one of the best advisor/mentor relationships that I have had at the university to this day. Soon after, I proceeded to get more acquainted with the staff of Student Life. This process was facilitated by the spot which I think is the best part of Student Life, at their big table that has become a hub for meeting new people and making new friendships with staff, students, and leaders across campus. For me, this table is where I have come to meet some of the most influential people in my college life, and where I have had some of the deepest conversations with complete strangers. This table and more importantly, this office are a place that is welcoming and wonderful for growing as a college student. Sitting in this office is like being a part of a big family. There are always tons of laughs shared and memories recounted.

As if this office wasn’t good enough, the existing advisors are top notch at helping all students at becoming successful leaders. I have been more pushed and challenged to do my best as leader, as I have been in this office. Following the example set by our President David Boren, all of the advisors here have an open door policy allowing students to come to them whenever they are in need. They are always within earshot, with a helping hand and an abundance of guidance. It also helps that most of the staff are OU graduates and have shared many of the same experiences we are facing now, so more than often they know what works and what doesn’t when fulfilling our leadership roles.

This office is filled with some of the most supporting and caring staff that our university has to offer. They have created a Sooner experience for me that will be unforgettable and still continues to make my time here even more enjoyable!

Isaac Hill

Junior

Chemical Engineering w/ Biomedical Option (Pre-med)

Midwest City, OK

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After making the decision to go to OU, I still wasn’t totally satisfied. I couldn’t help but think that I might have picked the wrong school. When I went in for my first advising appointment, I felt very uneasy. Later on that day, I went to the Student Union where I received my student ID card. I thought, “Wow, I’m finally an official student.” As I walked out of the Union to head home, I glanced at a picture of George McLaurin, the first African-American student at OU. Suddenly, a quote from Maya Angelou popped in my head saying,

“Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” 

Then it hit me. While I was still fighting with myself over school choices, I reflected on the African-Americans before me and realized the great privilege I had in my ability to choose a school of my choice. I do not believe Mr. McLaurin fought for his own personal right to attend this great university, but for every student that came after him, in hopes that they would not be denied admission based on race and skin color. No one in my family has ever attended OU and I had the opportunity to achieve what was once unachievable. When I hear the names and stories of people like George McLaurin, Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher (first black student admitted to OU Law), Prentice Gautt (first black football player at OU), etc., and have the opportunity to sit and speak personally with Dr. George Henderson (beloved OU professor, first black homeowner in Norman and founder of OU Human Relations Department), I feel overwhelmingly fortunate that such individuals fought for me, even though they never knew me. What really hit home for me was when I found out my lifelong dentist and personal mentor, Dr. Dunn Cumby, was the first African American to graduate from the OU College of Dentistry. Now that I am here, I realize that I have a legacy to continue and a responsibility to fulfill. OU is the place I want to be and the place where I belong. I must progressively challenge my peers and myself each day.

From my Camp Crimson experience to this very second, I have been so incredibly blessed and have enjoyed each second. The late nights studying, 3 am trips to Whataburger, the numerous people I have befriended, the course work, the professors and faculty who I have connected with and class discussions have all been so rewarding to me and I feel so fortunate in this moment to be a Sooner. Last time I heard Dr. Henderson speak, he mentioned the unofficial motto of OU, ‘Live On, University’ and stated, “It’s not about the university living on, but how it lives and what it will live for.” That is our challenge today as Sooners; We are responsible to ensure OU lives on and lives for better.

J.D. Baker

Freshman

Public Relations Major

Public Affairs and Administration Major

Edmond, OK

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Every freshman gets the opportunity to go to an involvement fair, consisting of nearly every organization with those members begging you to come to their table and hear more about what they do. Now, personally, I signed up for probably 50 things, got about 1000 emails, and I went from wanting to get involved to a potential over-commitment problem. While you have all these people reaching out to you, you still have that intimidation factor going on. What if I do something stupid? What if I’m not qualified enough? Coming from a student who wasn’t very involved in high school, I didn’t really know if I would have the appropriate experience to take part in some things. Getting involved on a college campus as a freshman can be one of the most intimidating experiences. You have all these upperclassmen whom all know each other and probably have been apart of different groups for years, and you’re a little freshman who happen to go to this meeting, and you’re nervous.

My first official attempt at getting involved was going to hang out with the women’s rugby team, which was an experience that was unforgettable. Now, when you sign up for different organizations, you don’t really know what to expect, or even if you’re going to be a significant member. I’ll be honest, I was not cut out for that particular organization, but it gave me a boost of confidence, because there I was a freshman who walked from the dorms to the soccer fields by Lloyd Noble (and got lost) and these girls welcomed me in, as if they had known me forever. After the sad realization that rugby was not my thing, I went to a Campus Activities Council Crew meeting with some friends, and let’s just say you feel a lot better when you realize that there are hundreds of freshman that are just as eager and lost as you are. I’m at this huge meeting, learning about CAC and other cool things on campus and I liked it. One could say I started to find my place a little.

One day, while exploring different websites of organizations on campus, I found an application for CAC Howdy Week Vice Chairs. At this point in my early college days I was applying for nearly everything I came across. Yes, I was that kid. I applied for so many things that I forgot that I had applied for that particular position. A few weeks later I received an email from the chair in which he told me that I had gotten the position of Secretary on the Vice Chair staff. As a freshman I was still rather confused as to what I had gotten. I remember going to Vice Chair Development Day for CAC, and finally figuring out what I had been selected to do. After a few weeks, and meeting different people, I started to realize that getting involved wasn’t as scary as I thought it was. Because of that opportunity I was more motivated to sign up for other clubs that interested me and I’ve met a lot of people who I love to be around.

All in all, getting involved is a baby steps kind of process, unless you’re a kid like me, that dives in head first and decide to literally sign up for everything. It takes one brave attempt to fill out that application to gain the confidence needed to let yourself know that you can do it. It doesn’t matter how involved you were in high school, how many people you know, or how outgoing you are; all that matters is that you take that chance, even if you might be the only freshman at that meeting.

Kennedie Akinwande

Psych/Human Relations Sophomore

Dallas, Texas

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Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetWell, my first three weeks in Italy have been…astounding! I never thought that I would have the guts to leave my home for 4 months to make a new home in Arezzo, Italy. Having to step out of my comfort zone is something that takes a lot of energy out of me. But here I am, and I have loved every single second of my new adventure. These last three weeks have been a whirlwind of new faces, too much gelato (but can there REALLY be a thing like too much gelato?!), train rides to new places, and learning something new about myself in the process.

I didn’t think I had what it took to be able to study abroad, and leave my comfort of home. I am born and raised in Norman, Oklahoma. I grew up with the same group of friends for 10+ years of my life, so I never needed to make new friends until I came to college. If I was ever in trouble, I had the comfort of being able to drive 15 minutes to my mom’s house. I was completely familiar with the four corners of Norman, but I was itching to find a new adventure. Being at OU for my first two years have been some of the best times of my life to date. Why would I want to leave everything for a whole semester, to be totally out of my comfort zone? That didn’t exactly sound like a great time to me. Before I knew it, I was purchasing my ticket to Rome for the spring semester of my junior year. I was actually going to study abroad.

I don’t have that much experience under my belt just yet, but I urge anyone reading this (and who is considering study abroad) to look into the different programs and start talking to people! Whenever the idea to study abroad in Arezzo popped into my head, I talked to every single person I knew who went. Advisors, friends, OU in Arezzo ambassadors, mentors, my mom, EVERYONE. You can never start early about planning to study abroad (I started a full year and a half….I was a bit eager). People are always willing to answer your questions, and if you feel nervous, still talk to someone! I know for a fact that if I had let my fear stop me from coming to Arezzo, I would have regretted it. The lessons and experiences I have had in just three weeks blows me away. To think that I still have months ahead of me to experience all that Italy has to offer me makes me excited. Stay tuned!

Blessing Ikpa

The University of Oklahoma ‘16

Criminology & Human Relations 

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When I first came to the University of Oklahoma, I honestly did not know what I wanted to major in. I really enjoyed science in high school so I felt like biology was the way to go. I came to the University of Oklahoma as a Biology/Pre-Dental major. Although I liked a couple of my classes, I remember I had a sudden realization while taking my final lab practical in Introduction to Biology. I realized that I actually hate animals and IDK WHY AM I DOING THIS. So what was a young Bunty going to major in? I’ve thought about Political Science, Engineering (HA!), and Meteorology. Heck, I even considered Drama as a major. I went to the Majors and Minors exploration office within Wagner Hall to take some tests and meet with a counselor to talk about what I wanted to do. Every single aptitude test that I took told me that my destiny was to become a business major. It made me think a little bit. I remembered taking accounting in high school and looking back I sort of enjoyed it. I looked up information about the Price College of Business and felt like “Hey! I could actually do this business thing!” So I made the switch my Sophomore year.

I love being a Price student. There are so many opportunities for success while you’re in the business college. Price students as a whole come into the business college with the mindset of getting an internship, building yourself professionally and networking. Need help revising your resume or need work on your 30-second elevator speech? Visit Robert Harper and Dena Newhouse in the Professional Development office. Robert Harper was the one I ran to when I needed help on my resume my sophomore year and he took my average resume into a real winner at career fairs. Did I mention that we have career fairs once a semester? Companies throughout the United States will come here to OU and recruit students and even have their interviews on campus so you don’t have to travel. IBC (Integrated Business Core) is a program where students will essentially start a business every semester from scratch, design, make and market a product for the general public to purchase. All the proceeds from IBC go towards the company’s charity. Since its inception, IBC has raised over $1 million in charity! Study Abroad, the Business Communication Center, JC Penny Leadership program, the list goes on and on about how great Price is.

After bouncing around majors in Price, I am now an Energy Management/Supply Chain major and I feel that I have found my right fit. The Energy Management program is the first of its kind in the nation and since it is the first, it is obviously the best of its kind in the nation as well. Although it is a business degree, it is a very unique one. It blends teachings from College of Business, Mewbourne College of Earth & Energy, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences and the College of Law. Supply Chain Management, which is a major  focusing on logistics of business operations, is a top #20 program in the nation and its value here at OU has been steadily rising every year with the help of Ronald Davidson, the head of the Supply Chain department.

If you’re still thinking about what you want to major in, don’t worry. You have a lot of time in college to truly find out what you want to do. If you don’t like what you’re doing right now, don’t do it, you don’t want to be doing it for the rest of your life. College is a time to learn and build yourself. Price was the right fit for me, with all its programs, faculty and staff, and great job placement. If business has ever crossed your mind, take a chance. Who knows? You may be a CEO one day.

Bunty Patel

Energy Mgmt/Supply Chain, Senior

Wilburton, OK

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It would make sense for a private school kid to go to a private college, right? Well, this was the mindset for many of my peers, as well as myself. Going into the college transition, I wasn’t looking to stray too far from the comforts of my private school. What was I going to do if my teachers didn’t know my name in my college classes? Better yet, what was I going to do if I couldn’t find my place amongst the thousands of students at public university? I was afraid of drowning in a sea of students. All roads pointed away from public universities, but one fateful visit to OU would change my perspective completely.

Upon arriving on the Norman campus, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when my first glimpse at college life consisted of peering into a lecture hall that contained more students than were in my graduating class. “Here we go. Can’t wait to get this over with,” I thought to myself. However, after learning about OU and all of its many facets, I made an important realization that did away with my previous apprehensions about its public identity.

At the end of the day, I looked back and tried to soak it all in. Every time I tried to digest a certain aspect of the school, I kept coming back to the fact that there were just SO many students here, compared to my small private school. Then, however, I had my “aha” moment when I started to think about all the social clubs and organizations that existed on campus. In a similar fashion to the large student population, there seemed to be an overwhelming amount of opportunity available to anyone that was willing to pursue it. It was then and there that I realized that I didn’t have to worry about having a place on campus. My college experience could be whatever I wanted it to be, and at OU I found that there was nothing holding me back but the amount of hours in a day.

The college transition can be daunting to any incoming freshman, but for those coming to a public university from a smaller high school setting, it can be an especially rattling experience. The key thing to realize, however, is that all the comforts of private school exist at OU, you just have to seize them. They might not be apparent at first, but teachers love getting to know their students. Getting to know you is just as exciting for them (if not more) as it is for you, especially when they must teach hundreds of students at once. Scared of not being able to make friends? There are countless organizations and clubs that want you to join. Between Campus Activities Council, Greek life, and Student Government Association, the tight knit feel of a private school community can immediately be duplicated.

Overall, everything I wanted in a college was right there all along, I just had to look closer. I truly enjoyed my private school experience, and I was so excited when I realized that OU could offer all those comforts to me, on an even bigger and better scale. The question started off as, “will I be successful here?” but soon changed to “how much success do I want to experience?” I might’ve been afraid of drowning at such an immense college at first, but after truly learning about OU, I dove right in and was surprised at how well I could swim.

Adam Siddique

Tulsa, OK

Biology Junior

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When you come to OU and Norman, you enter a sort-of bubble. You realize you are getting older, you become a sophomore then a junior then a senior, but it never really hits you. Well, as a senior staring at graduation (in about 20 days), I can tell you that it hits you. The feeling that you may have to leave Norman, your friends, the place that started out as college and became home, all hits you like a train crossing by The Mont.

I can still remember that first day. It was at Camp Crimson, Purcell Family, Monnet Small Group. It was my first chance to really be at summer camp, but this was not just camp. This was an introduction to the next four years of my life. Those people I met at camp are still some of my best friends on Earth. We all “dropped our cool” and found friends, and a part of ourselves that we hadn’t known yet.

Soon it was August 2011 and I was moving all my stuff into Walker 6E, and I was terrified to be completely honest. My room had this picture perfect view of the stadium, the roommate and I got along, and my suitemates were some of the coolest guys I had ever met. That first night, I went fountain hopping, stayed up way too late, had the first (of many) cheese breads from Papa John’s. I knew that I made the right decision, and that I was going to fall in love while I was here. Then I had my first Sooner football game, and I’ll admit that when the intro video came on, I was crying. We sang the fight song, and the alma mater, and I had never really felt like I belonged to a huge family until then. That first semester was hard, I was homesick, I saw all my friends that went to A&M and UT having the times of their lives. I wanted to leave, to transfer, but I knew deep down that I would regret leaving because I hadn’t truly experienced OU yet.

Sophomore year and junior year flew by. I participated in Soonerthon. I changed my major a few (too many) times. I made friends and lost them. We all grew up in a way that none of us could have expected. We had our hearts broken, we failed a class or two, and we decided that college was not as easy as we thought it would be. Above all, we found out that our school was the one connecting the dots. We were bleeding Crimson and Cream and died for the idea of “Live on University.” Nothing felt real. We were separated from the newness of freshman year and did not want to think about senior year.

Then like a flash senior year comes. You realize that are beginning to have a lot of “lasts.” I gave my last tour as an OU Tour Guide the other day, and fought back tears the entire time. I ate at the Caf, where I had many times before, for the last time. I said goodbye to people in Student Life that have given me so much time over the last few years. It started hitting me that I was taking my last steps around the University that I love so much. You push these thoughts away for most of your last semester here, but at some point it is going to creep up on you, and it finally has crept up on me.

OU never leaves you because from that first time you step on campus to the last time you do, OU makes a mark. So much of the person I am today is because of the people I have met here. I formed opinions and friendships that will last a lifetime because of this school. My heart is here just as much as I am. When I get old one day, I will look back at those football games or late nights and realize that I had an experience to share with complete strangers. OU invites you into a family the moment you get that acceptance letter and it never lets you go. For that I will never be able to repay OU. The opportunities I have gotten here, the people who have become my mentors, and the family that I chose will never leave my memories. I love OU, and that will never change, no matter where I am.

Dalton Brasington

Senior

Political Science

Spring, TX

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Game day in Norman always brings an intense atmosphere but Homecoming produces a special kind of crowd. I remember standing in the stadium thinking, “Wow, I’ve never felt the stadium shake so much from a crowd yelling BOOMER SOONER!”

For many organizations Homecoming is an extravagant event with countless hours of hard work put into the floats, boards, banners, chalking, and the pep rally dance. Every year Campus Activities Council (CAC) organizes the long time tradition of Homecoming here at OU. This year our theme was Bound As One. Months of preparation have been put into each and every category. It is a time where the student body organizations work together to put on a campus wide event.

This year CAC aimed to create a Homecoming shirt where the same logo would be used again and again. I love being able to see a new tradition created at OU and yes the shirts are super cool. Another new thing CAC did this year was the Rah! Rally. The rally was on Friday, placed in the Lloyd Noble Center and in previous years it was somewhere else that didn’t really offer what the LNC does. Being able to see OU alum Gerald McCoy (All-Pro DT for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) come back was remarkable. Since I graduate here in December it was a refreshing reminder that once you become a Sooner, you are a Sooner for life. I am sad this will be my last Homecoming as a student but it was a great one to end on!

Needless to say the Rah! Rally was a blast and excited students even more for the game. The participating groups this year truly went above and beyond the normal requirements, every theme deserves credit for their creativity and hard work. The themes winning this year in the Homecoming competition were, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Water for Elephants, and Mary Poppins.

If you were unable to see any of the homecoming events in action check out @oucac or @UofOklahoma on twitter or search for the hashtag #BoundAsOne

Drew Purdin

Choctaw, OK

Senior Aviation Management

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