As the spring semester winds down and students look forward to summer and the next semester ahead, 227 Oklahoma Christian University seniors will say goodbye to their home of 4 (or more) years and step into the "real world." This will also be Oklahoma Christian's first graduating class of nurses.
Several eager seniors have their sights set on exciting career opportunities, while some will be continuing their education.
Emily Smith, an upcoming graduate, hopes to further her education after leaving Oklahoma Christian. Smith, who is visually handicapped, will graduate with a 3.9+ GPA, and has been accepted for graduate study to Oklahoma State University in Modern European History.
"I plan on teaching at the college level, and I plan on getting my doctorate, but it's best to start out on the Masters level," Smith said.
Smith looks forward to a new perspective of life after being an undergrad.
"I'm looking forward to the chance to keep going with my education and to work with new professors—just the newness of everything," Smith said.
Smith, a history major, was inspired early on to be a history professor.
"I decided I wanted to be a history professor the first or second semester I was here," Smith said. "I was in Dr. John Thompson's class, and I loved his teaching style. So I decided that I wanted to be a history professor, and going to graduate school is one of the requirements."
Smith is involved in many activities on campus, including Tau Sigma (Oklahoma Christian's local chapter of the National Historical Honor Society), Alpha Chi (National Honor Society), and is a library worker.
Smith's career goals trace back to where she first received her inspiration.
"I'd like to come back [to Oklahoma Christian] and teach some of the European history courses," Smith said.
Dacia Dodson, a Broadcast Journalism major, looks forward to a slower pace after graduation.
"I think the hardest thing is that I'm a full time student and a full time employee," Dodson said. "I'm taking 16 hours at school and working 40 hours a week."
Dodson looks forward to the relief graduation will bring to her busy schedule.
"I think after I graduate I'll have more time to focus on the next phase of my life and be able to transition to the professional world spectrum fully," Dodson said.
Dodson hopes to continue her current job after graduation and looks to gain a Masters in Business or Communications.
"Most likely I'll continue to work at 'The Oklahoman' as an online editor for NewsOK.com," Dodson said. "If I decide that a Masters in Business is the path I want to take, I will definitely go through OC's program. I am still unsure about a Masters in Communication, but I am certainly open."
Dodson is a member of Pi Zeta Phi, and worked as assignment editor and reporter for Eagle Angle, Oklahoma Christian's television station. She has also been a participant of Relay for Life and is Vice President of fundraising for the Oklahoma Christian chapter of the National Broadcast Society (NBS).
While Dodson enjoys her current job, she hopes to broaden her horizons.
"I used to think that I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and now that I'm about to graduate, I really feel like it's an open door," Dodson said. "I enjoy my work as an online editor at 'The Oklahoman,' but I don't know if that's what I want to do for the rest of my life. It's a great way to get your foot in the door, but I would like to get my MBA in Communications and teach at a college level."
Michael Patton, a political science major, hopes to have a future in law.
"I am looking forward to accomplishing this goal and moving on to the next phase in my life," Patton said. "I am also looking forward to law school, which should be a great challenge."
Patton plans to move back to Topeka, Kan., with his wife and start preparing for law school. Patton's ultimate career goal is to go into the family business.
"My dad has his own law firm which I hope to someday take over and expand," Patton said.
Patton also has some political aspirations.
"I have not decided when I will run for office, but I will most likely begin with running for State Representative in Kansas and then move from there," Patton said.
Patton is involved on campus in various activities including membership in the history honor society of Phi Alpha Theta.
"I also served as president and vice president of the political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha," Patton said.
Liz Ekpo, a biology major, also plans to return home after graduation.
"I plan on returning home to California to work in the hospital I worked in last summer," Ekpo said. "Next fall, I will attend medical school if I am let in. If not, then I will just re-apply and attend next year."
Ekpo looks forward to earning a degree after all the hard work of five years in college. She also plans to eventually go overseas with her career plans.
"I plan to become a neurosurgeon and eventually go to Nigeria to be a medical missionary," Ekpo said.
Ekpo enjoyed her time being involved on campus.
"I am a member of Lambda Chi Zeta, and I was secretary last year," Ekpo said.
This year, she served as spring sing director and was a member of Chorale, for which she was the Vice President last year and the historian this year.
"I am also in Multicultural Student Association and last year I was the treasurer, but this year I am Vice President," Ekpo said. "I also have volunteered at the Lighthouse Clinic in downtown OKC. I am a member of Philiatros, the pre-professional science club on campus."
In the past, Ekpo also taught children's classes both at Memorial Road and Edmond Church of Christ.
"I also loved participating in campus activities like basketball games and View 63," Ekpo said.
Though each student's direction is different, all of them will miss things about campus life.
"I will definitely miss the friends I've made and the lack of responsibility that goes along with being a college student," Patton said.
Dodson will also remember the people at Oklahoma Christian.
"I think the thing I'll miss the most is the professors," Dodson said. "When you've been here four years, you really come to admire them, and you get to know them very well. I know that I can always come back to OC and those professors, and they'll be here for me if I have a question or need a letter of recommendation, but it'll be hard not to see them everyday."
Ekpo and Smith will miss the closeness and friendships on campus.
"I'll miss all the closeness of everybody and I'm pretty close to my professors so I'll miss them," Smith said. "I'll also miss the family-like feeling here."
Ekpo will miss both friends and family alike.
"I will miss my friends the most, especially my two little sisters, since they will both be back at OC next year and I won't," Ekpo said. "I love the close relationships I have built at this school, and I thank God for them everyday."
Students will officially take part in commencement at 2 p.m. on April 25, 2008.