10 things every first-time Drover should know
By Logan Webb
BFA Contemporary Sculpture, 2017
(in no particular order)
Drover Alum Since Day One
Unless you’ve been completely off the radar for the past year or two, you’ve heard the phrase “Drover alum since day one” at some point on your journey to USAO. It may have come in the form of green t-shirts, maybe printed down the side of a reusable plastic water bottle or on a roll of stickers. Heck, you might have seen it spray painted on cornhole boards or giant Jenga. But what you need to know from the get-go is that Drovers are much more than a mascot or part of a catchy phrase screen-printed on a shirt. By choosing USAO, you are choosing to become part of a much larger family, a wild network of people you can count on long after your time at USAO comes to an end (you’re stuck with us for life, I’m afraid). But the Alumni Association and Alumni Development office are your best friends even before you graduate. Especially before you graduate. From alumni-funded scholarships (seriously, don’t let these pass you by) to the new Pathways Alumni Mentorship Program, USAO Alumni Development has got you covered—and hey, they throw a mean party and love a good swag bag.
Clubs & Orgs
Try ‘em on for size. This isn’t an engagement ring or a cult-- there’s no commitment. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t show up to ASL Club if you aren’t a deaf ed major or to Cooking Club if you’ve never touched a slotted spoon in your life. Getting involved with campus clubs and organizations is one of the best ways to interact with people you wouldn’t normally see every day. Consider it [Green &] Golden Corral: there’s something for everyone. Love party and event planning? Try the Student Activities Board (SAB). Spend all your downtime with a controller in your hands? Gamer’s Guild is the group for you. From Art Club to Zombie Survivalists, you’re sure to find your perfect fit. Not seeing something that appeals to you? Establishing a new club couldn’t be easier. Don’t be afraid to step into leadership positions in more than one! The buffet’s open, and it’s all-you-can-eat. Grab a tray and load up.
[insert Law & Order gavel bang here]
Filtered water fountains. Peepholes in the doors of Sparks Hall. Gender neutral housing. Campus observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Some of the best ideas for improving the quality of life on campus have been a direct result of legislation written and passed by the USAO Student Government Association (SGA). While you absolutely don’t need to be a senator to address thoughts or concerns before the Senate or Supreme Court, everyone is encouraged to campaign for a seat. I was appointed my freshman year after another student dropped their position, and I loved it so much I stayed heavily involved until graduation. Elections are usually held at the beginning of the trimester, and, believe it or not, freshmen and first-time Drovers have just as much a chance of securing a seat as anyone else (sometimes more of a chance--they campaign harder!). In addition to directly affecting change on campus, USAO SGA is also represented at OSGA, a two-day event that sees all Oklahoma colleges and universities banding together to draft and vote on legislation that is presented directly to the State Regents and Oklahoma Legislature. Even if you decide not to run for a seat and serve up some RBG realness, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with your campus representatives. They’re happy to sit down with you and work through writing and presenting official bills and resolutions. You just might be sitting on the next big idea for university advancement. SGA exists to make that idea a reality.
Gweddw crefft heb ei dawn.
One of USAO’s many strengths is its commitment to providing students the opportunity to participate in both short- and long-term study abroad programs. By partnering with Oklahoma-based study abroad and travel companies, they are able to offer prices that are astonishingly low and usually all-inclusive (air and ground transportation, accommodation, most meals, etc.). The short-term (anywhere from 10 to 14 days) programs are open to all and vary from year to year, but have included the United Kingdom, Italy, Central and South America, as well as multi-stop tours of Europe. You can earn up to five credit hours for these trips!
USAO also has a unique partnership with Swansea University in Wales through the Brad Henry International Scholar Program, and sends one student abroad to study on full scholarship each year. I am not exaggerating when I say this program completely changed my life. The application process is open to any student with at least 60 hours of academic credit under their belt. If that’s not you just yet, keep it on your radar and apply more than once! Did I mention this is a FULL SCHOLARSHIP to study in Wales for a semester? Because it is a FULL SCHOLARSHIP and includes all tuition and accommodation costs, as well as reimbursement for travel costs to and from the UK at the beginning and end of the semester. Keep your eyes peeled for emails and flyers around campus. The application process usually begins in the fall. Someone’s going to Wales- why not you? (Have I emphasized that it’s a FULL SCHOLARSHIP?)
Take a class that intimidates you. Or one you’ve never heard of.
I know, I know. Hear me out. Every Drover needs two things to graduate: a physical credit and an artistic expression credit. I understand that the idea of enrolling in an athletic course when you’re not an athlete or in arts course when you’re not an art major can be anxiety-inducing. One of the coolest things about USAO is that it forces you to expand yourself, to push the limits of what you think you’re capable of. When it comes down to it, you’re going to be tempted to sign up for what you believe will be the easiest—I’m here to tell you to rethink that decision. 8 a.m. yoga may not be your thing, and that’s okay. I (begrudgingly) enrolled in weight training and ended up falling in love with it, despite the burpees. Explore all of your options! Live your Lindsay Lohan Parent Trap fantasy and take up fencing! Sign up for pottery on the wheel; you’ll be such a pro by the end that you’ll be able to throw blind-folded (and you’ll have to)! Beyond mandatory credits, always be on the lookout for experimental and specialty courses year-round, which are usually advertised on the bulletin boards around campus or through your student email. (Some past favorites include BioArt, Leadership in Film, Concepts of Portraiture, Introduction to Forensic Science, Food Science, among many, many others.)
Check in with your advisor. No, really.
This one’s easy to forget. You show up for your designated enrollment meeting each semester and then life gets busy. I get it. But I PROMISE checking in with your advisor every couple of weeks will make your time at USAO a little less stressful. Most (if not all) advisors have their office hours posted just outside their doors. Familiarize yourself with them. Take a photo of them. Write them inside the cover of the five-subject notebook you got for 99¢ at a Walmart clearance sale. This may sound cliche, but I really don’t know where I would’ve been without the two incredible academic advisors I had at USAO (and the countless other faculty members who advised me even when they didn’t have to). I was very involved on campus and always found myself having to juggle or massage my schedule quite a bit to make everything work, but we always made it work. That brings me to another point: do your research before making an appointment. While your advisor is absolutely there to help guide you, keep in mind that they’re also advising many other students, as well as teaching multiple classes simultaneously. The more you familiarize yourself with your own requirements and available courses, the smoother this whole process will be. Treat the relationship between yourself and your advisor as a team sport—I guarantee they’ll be some of your biggest cheerleaders.
If you’re bored, you’re not paying attention.
This is where the connections you make through clubs and orgs come in handy. There’s always something going on, even if there’s not much marketing involved. Word of mouth is HUGE on a campus as small at USAO’s. Support Drover athletics (especially the newest teams, volleyball and golf!).
Show up for the truly remarkable Theatre Department, which puts on some of the most underrated and thought-provoking productions I’ve ever seen. Attend (and/or contribute to) one of the many exhibition openings in the on-campus Nesbitt and Third Floor Galleries or the new ArtWrecker Studio downtown. Keep an eye out for intramural volleyball at Lawson Court or ultimate frisbee on the oval. SAB and Residence Life plan and host SO MANY fun events year-round, like karaoke in Dusty’s or late-night outdoor movies. Clubs love nothing more than hosting epic potluck dinners. Worried there’ll be nothing going on during the summer? Don’t be. Alumni Development hosts the Listen Local summer concert series at the Greek Theater all summer long. Now get out there and soak it all up.
Symposia and Performing Arts series
Margaret Atwood (author of The Handmaid’s Tale). Neil Gaiman (author of Coraline, Stardust, American Gods, etc.). Andrea Elliott (Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist). Eric Kandel (Nobel Prize-winning doctor of psychiatry). Jay Shuster (award-winning designer of Wall-E and the Cars series). David Henry Hwang (Tony Award-winning writer of M. Butterfly). The list goes on (and on and on). What do all of the aforementioned have in common? They’ve each delivered keynote lectures in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium. USAO hosts not one, not two, but THREE symposia series a year: The Emerson-Weir Liberal Arts Symposium, The Ray, Mary & Nita Giles Symposium on Citizenship and Public Service, and the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. They are *FREE*. When else will you get to engage with world-famous scientists, actors, artists and experts for [did I mention] *FREE*? Attend them. I promise you won’t regret it.
In addition to the multiple symposia listed above, USAO also hosts the Davis-Waldorf Performing Arts Series each year. Each season includes four incredible performances by world-renowned artists, creators and music-makers, from acrobats to improv troupes, hip-hop crews to classically-trained ballet companies. Though not always free, tickets for these performances are offered to students at a highly discounted rate and are worth every penny.
This College Takes Care of Me
Ok, this one’s really cool, you guys. A few years ago, it became apparent that a need existed for alternative food and wellness options during times in which campus dining wasn’t operating (spring break, holidays, etc.). Enter the ‘This College Takes Care of Me’ Task Force and cue the birth of the Campus Co-op. The Co-op, located on the first floor of Lawson Court Clubhouse, is a free food source for Drovers in need stocked completely by donation. The Task Force facilitates on- and off-campus food and wellness drives in addition to making sure everything operates smoothly. But it doesn’t stop there. This College Takes Care of Me has also hosted clothing drives and Drover ride-share programs, providing transportation to and from the airport for out-of-state and international students, as well as occasional shuttles to and from Walmart. This is a resource that exists for the sole purpose of meeting the needs of Drovers like you. Use it.
Be sure to follow USAO Task Force on Facebook for important news and updates and to get acquainted with the awesome group of people making it all happen!
And finally: You don’t need to have everything figured out, but actually checking your student email is a good place to start.
Forward it to your phone. Forward it to your Gmail. Set a reminder. Have IT walk you through it. Do whatever you need to do, just check your student email. Seriously. sErIoUsLy. S E R I O U S L Y. Do it. Promise?