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Senior Highlights


We're excited to highlight a group of students from this year's graduating class! We've asked each of them to share some words of wisdom, favorite memories, and future plans.

The 2017 commencement ceremonies will take place on Saturday, May 6. You can find out more details on the day's events here.

For those who are unable to attend in person, we'll also be live streaming on our website and on YouTube.

Enjoy these Senior Highlights!


Ali Wonderly - BA Music, BA Theatre Performance, minor in Mass Communications


"OCU is a big family and it really feels like I’m leaving home all over again."

Hometown

Tulsa, OK

Describe your senior year in three words.

Exciting, Busy, Emotional

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Do anything and everything your freshman year while you still have time to figure out what works for you. Don’t let yourself get to senior year and have regrets that you didn’t try something. Set yourself up to graduate knowing you made the most of your time here!

What will you miss most about OCU?

I’m going to miss walking down the sidewalk and knowing every person I pass, or going to Alvin’s or the quad just because I know at least one of my friends will be there. OCU is a big family and it really feels like I’m leaving home all over again.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

My mass comm professor Dr. Kenna Griffin started out as my adviser for Student Publications as a freshman, but she saw promise in me and was the main reason I added a minor in Mass Communications my junior year. She introduced me to a world of opportunities and professions I didn't know I was qualified for. She also took a personal interest in my education and I know without her support, I wouldn’t be graduating as a current working professional in digital marketing.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

My most memorable moment was International Women’s Day on March 8th. I was able to gather a bunch of my friends on the quad for a quick photo shoot. There was a moment before it started where 30+ of my female artist friends were just standing around talking and I just looked around silently because I was so in awe of the talent, love, creativity, and support that surrounded me in that moment.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am moving to New York City on May 8th to spend 6 weeks working with Marathon Live Entertainment, a Broadway digital marketing company that I interned for last summer. My hope is to move to NYC permanently in the fall and continue a career in the entertainment/performing arts industry.

Halston Strange - American Dance Pedagogy


"One thing that I will miss most about OCU is the sense of community and inclusion on campus."

Hometown

Wichita, Kansas

Describe your senior year in three words.

Exciting. Fulfilling. Exhausting.

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

College is one of the greatest times of your life so really take hold of everything that OCU has to offer. Get out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in the many new opportunities that will arise. These four years will fly by so why not jam pack them with greatness while here?

What will you miss most about OCU?

One thing that I will miss most about OCU is the sense of community and inclusion on campus. Everyone is so special and talented in their own way, and each and every student is accepted and celebrated for their individuality.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

I have been so moved by many of my professors but one who has impacted me beyond words would be Professor Tiffany Van der Merwe. Van der Merwe is a part of the Jazz Faculty in the Ann Lacy School of Dance and Entertainment. She teaches with such passion, purpose, and personality and she has helped me grow into the dancer that I am today. Her pedagogical approach has inspired me to teach children of all ages with the same drive and genuine love for the art of dance that she holds dear to her heart.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

As a Senior Pedagogy Major, I have had the opportunity to teach dance to children of all ages in the Community Dance Center. It has been such a rewarding and memorable experience to have an impact on their lives as they have on my own.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduating, I will be working with Celebrity Cruise Line, performing on their ship The Summit! I will be traveling to Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and Canada for six consecutive months. This is a dream come true and I very much believe that I would not be here without the guidance and push of OCU.

Kat Evans - Elementary Education

"I was able to study abroad in Costa Rica with Dr. Kauffman for 12 days. I’ll always remember my senior year for this extraordinary trip!"

Hometown

Yukon, Oklahoma

Describe your senior year in three words.

Accomplished, Joyful, Exciting

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Have fun, but don’t have fun, but have fun.

What will you miss most about OCU?

I’m going to miss late night walks to Alvins in my PJs, studying on the 4th floor of the library with my friends and the amazing staff that runs the caf in the mornings.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Out of all of my professors I’d have to say Dr. Stancamp stands out from my time at OCU. I took his Maymester Yellowstone class, the trip was amazing… BUT he stopped the bus every thirty minutes on our way to Wyoming to look at birds. At first I thought it was a joke but it wasn’t, not at all.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

During Christmas Break I was able to study abroad in Costa Rica with Dr. Kauffman for 12 days. I’ll always remember my senior year for this extraordinary trip!

What are your plans after graduation?

In August I will begin teaching 4th grade at Grove Valley Elementary in Deer Creek Public Schools.

Katherine Wicht - Nursing


"Reach out and believe you can make an impact."

Hometown

Santa Rosa, California

Describe your senior year in three words.

Do great things.
Never too late.

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Try as many different things, with all different people, and you will make some of the best memories. Trust that you have a way and you will find your spot in this community. Reach out and believe you can make an impact. When you feel stressed, remind yourself to not sweat the small things. Because believe me, there can be a lot of small things. Understand that FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a real thing, and you must learn to control it and act on it in a balanced manor. Say "thank you" to those who teach you and serve you on this campus and in this community.

What will you miss most about OCU?

The community and the individuals that make up this special community.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Wow, this is a hard one. I would have to say my mentor in the nursing school, Dr. Blackmon. She has been with me through my entire nursing school journey, pushing me to do my best and believing that I can do it. She has been a constant supporter during my highs and not so highs of nursing school.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

There isn't just one.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plan is to stay in Oklahoma City and work as a Registered Nurse in the NICU at the OU Children's Hospital!

Liz Larsen - Theatre Design and Production with an Emphasis in Stage Management with minors in Directing and Psychology

"Everywhere I go on campus, I am surrounded by people I know and love who support me so generously."

Hometown

Springdale, AR

Describe your senior year in three words:

Rewarding, Exhausting, Memorable

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

I would tell them to stay involved and say yes to everything you can; those will be where you will make your memories. But at the same time, don't be afraid to say no and take care of yourself. College is where you learn what's important and what you can and can't handle. 

What will you miss most about OCU?

I'll miss the people. Everywhere I go on campus, I am surrounded by people I know and love who support me so generously. 

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Jeff Cochran, for sure. He is one of my professors of Stage Management and one of my mentors. We've been through so much over the past 4 years and he has really helped me develop my confidence and my professional abilities. There are also other professors who have helped me as well and I am very grateful to each of them for helping me to develop as an artist and a professional. 

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

I think my work on Hairspray will stay with me for a very long time; it was my last show at OCU, I was surrounded by people who loved what we were doing and the story we were telling, and I was able to be recognized for my work at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. I am so happy I had the opportunity to be a part of the production. 

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be staying in OKC over the summer to work at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma as an Assistant Stage Manager for their summer shows Disney's When You Wish, West Side Story, and In the Heights. 

Lucas Ribeiro - Economics


"Enjoy your college life. It is unique, interesting, and it goes by faster than you think."

Hometown

Campinas, São Paulo Brazil

Describe your senior year in three words.

Intense. Amazing. Hardest.

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Enjoy your college life. It is unique, interesting, and it goes by faster than you think.

What will you miss most about OCU?

The people, including professors, co-workers, and employees.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Dr. Willner, because he is brilliant and passionate about what the subject he teaches (Econ).

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

Last soccer game as a student-athlete.

What are your plans after graduation?

Work and make money, yeah. But, most importantly, enjoy life as intensive as I possibly can.

Monica Joyce Thompson - Honors Double Major in Vocal Performance and Music Theatre


"It's true that you can walk across campus and know the name of every single person you pass."

Hometown

Aurora, Colorado

Describe your senior year in three words.

"I need sleep." 

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Do not use the excuse, "I'm too busy." Everyone on this campus is dedicated to numerous activities. Make time for what is important to you so that you can make memories at this great
school.

What will you miss most about OCU?

The friends I have made here! It's true that you can walk across campus and know the name of every single person you pass. It's one of the things that makes OCU so special.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

My voice teacher, Dr. William Christensen. I actually transferred into his studio my sophomore year, and he made me feel at home right away. He was so incredibly patient as I found "my voice." He has been more encouraging and understanding of my goals than I ever could have thought.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

Being nominated for Homecoming Court and representing my sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, was a huge honor. But I was also able to pass on my Miss OCU crown in October. It was the end of my reign but also a really special moment as I saw the tradition being passed on.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be competing for the title of Miss Colorado in June! Afterwards, I will be pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.

Morgan Mitchell - Youth Ministry

Dr. Enchassi is an interesting and incredibly kind person and will break down a lot of stereotypes you may hold.

Hometown

Bixby, OK

Describe your senior year in three words.

What a whirlwind!

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

The clock tower chimes two minutes early. Don't freak out thinking you're late for class.

What will you miss most about OCU?

My professors and friends.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Dr. Enchassi is an interesting and incredibly kind person and will break down a lot of stereotypes you may hold.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

Finally finishing a presenting my senior paper and project!

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be a youth pastor at a church in Oklahoma.

Patience Williams - English with a minor in Spanish

"There's much more interesting content that you learn in college, and it really teaches you about yourself as well."

Hometown

Oklahoma City, OK

Describe your senior year in three words.

(an) excruciatingly challenging thrill

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

There's much more interesting content that you learn in college, and it really teaches you about yourself as well. Try and interact with your coursework as much as you can.

What will you miss most about OCU?

The people I've met, and the professors. OCU isn't like the rest of Oklahoma—once you leave campus and the arts districts, it's a completely different vibe. 

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Tracy Floreani has been a very memorable professor I've had. She was the chair of the English department, and she and I conducted research at Yale last summer and that experience alone was soul-enriching. She also helped me with my credits for when I went abroad to Oxford University, and that entire process made me nervous and stressed but she helped me to figure out a lot of things.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

Talks with Harbour Winn, who's also an amazing professor and who has taught me so much about film and life. Also, hanging out with my friends around campus. Many of them are leaving to Chicago and New York, and it's been important to me that I recognize that these times with them are winding down and I really need to appreciate them.

What are your plans after graduation?

I was accepted into three MFA programs—one in Colorado and two in New York—but I've decided to take a break to write and work. I'm currently working on a collection of short stories titled “Melancholic Celebrations of Midwestern Youth,” and I'm also applying for a few writing workshops and literary journals.

Phillip Oliver - Entertainment Business



"One of my favorite memories of this year was working with my brothers in Kappa Sigma at our service event helping the Humane Society renovate an old building."

Hometown

Bethany, Oklahoma

Describe your senior year in three words.

So little time.

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Get involved! There are so many opportunities to make OCU one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life and there are many organizations that can help you develop in your major as well.

What will you miss most about OCU?

The people! I'll miss all of the conversations you have as you go about your normal day walking around the campus, the mentors I've found here, and just simply being surrounded by such positive and talented people.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Professor Rachel Suggs has been one of the most impactful teachers that I have ever known. She really gets to know her students and helps them to each develop in their own ways. Suggs stands out from other professors because she emphasizes critical thinking skills and taking initiative to problem solve in her classes. When you have a class with her, you know that you will need to pay attention, work hard, and think creatively rather than just working down a checklist of assignments. I really feel like she has prepared me to be successful in any career.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

One of my favorite memories of this year was working with my brothers in Kappa Sigma at our service event helping the Humane Society renovate an old building. It was a fantastic combination of manual labor, playing with puppies and brotherhood, and it was a great way to serve the community. I remember realizing then how much I would really miss OCU after graduation.

What are your plans after graduation?

Napping and Traveling! After that though, I have an internship with the International Association of Venue Managers in June. I am going into the venue management industry and hope to eventually own and operate my own entertainment venue.

Sarah Cason - Psychology with a CAST minor


"I'm most going to miss being part of Greek life, Relay for Life, and Psi Chi. I've had so much fun in these groups and I'm so sad to see them go."

Hometown

Norman, OK

Describe your senior year in three words:

End-of-adolescence crisis

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

For freshmen psych majors: join labs, do research, join Psi Chi, go to conferences.

For general freshmen: College students tend to glorify overworking and equate exhaustion and anxiety with success. Don't fall into this romanticized script of unhealthy habits. Know your limits, don't overload yourself your first year and burn out. Take gen eds (and cheap summer classes at OCCC), try some clubs, and get used to the new chapter of your life before making any rash decisions about your future.

What will you miss most about OCU?

I'm most going to miss being part of Greek life, Relay for Life, and Psi Chi. I've had so much fun in these groups and I'm so sad to see them go.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

This is difficult because my department has a small handful of professors that I've had consistently for the past 3 years. Dr. Shao and Dr. Hakman both have high expectations for your success but also for your well-being, they push you but they're very nice about it and believe in you. Dr. Jowaisas kicked my butt during my Capstone but I'm much better at APA format for it. It's hard to pick one because they have all been influential in my academic career at OCU.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

Going to SWPA (psychology research convention) with some members of Psi Chi and presenting our research!

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to get a job and continue to prepare for grad school applications.

Spencer Gualdoni - Musical Theater

"College is an incredible place that is going to challenge you, while also allow you to make some amazing memories that will last a lifetime."

Hometown

Energy, IL

Describe your senior year in three words.

Memorable, Fantastic, Bittersweet

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

I would advise them to always remain their true self over these four years. College is an incredible place that is going to challenge you, while also allow you to make some amazing memories that will last a lifetime; thus, I would encourage each student to always stay true to their moral values. Don’t let anyone try to change you. Be the best YOU, you can be and it will get you so far in life.

What will you miss most about OCU?

It is hard to narrow it down to just one thing, but I am going to miss the amazing professors I have had the privilege to work with, the friends that I have made over these four years, and just the atmosphere in general of this wonderful university.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

The professor that stands out to me is Dr. Sarah Sarver. She was my Music Theory III and IV teacher. She always went above and beyond for every student in her class. She never wanted you to fail, but always succeed. If you ever had any struggles or questions, she would always stay after class or take that extra time to meet with you outside of class. Her love for teaching is infectious and having Dr. Sarver as a professor solidified for me how blessed I was to be at OCU.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

HANDS DOWN the most memorable moment for me was performing on Broadway with Kristin Chenoweth back in November. Sixteen musical theater majors had the dream of a lifetime to fly to NYC and perform as backup vocalists in Kristin Chenoweth’s one woman show, “My Love Letter To Broadway.” It was an experience that I will cherish forever.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plans after graduation are to move to New York City this upcoming June. I am currently still in the process of interviewing for a couple jobs, so I am crossing my fingers that one of the options will work out. If not, I am still pursuing my dreams by moving to the Big Apple to apply for more jobs and to let the audition process begin.

Sylvia Hayes - Cell and Molecular Biology


"Getting accepted to medical school was the best moment I had this year."

Hometown

Colorado Springs, CO

Describe your senior year in three words.

Fun, gratifying, challenging

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Get involved in everything you can while you are here! You won't regret the things you did.

What will you miss most about OCU?

I will miss my friends and professors the most.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Dr. Gaudin stands out to me. She is a supportive, intelligent, and competent woman who inspires me to do my best.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

Getting accepted to medical school was the best moment I had this year.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to start medical school at OU College of Medicine in August!

Syrina Lopez - Early Childhood Education

It's okay to make mistakes. It is also okay to not have everything figured out. You have time!

Hometown

Las Vegas, Nevada

Describe your senior year in three words.

Educational, Busy, Bittersweet

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Relax! Everything will work out. It's okay to make mistakes.  It is also okay to not have everything figured out. You have time! Enjoy the journey.

What will you miss most about OCU?

My teammates and my coaches and my education friends

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Dr. Lawler-Brown was an inspiration.  She fueled my desire to become a teacher.  Her high expectations motivated me to continue to work hard. She showed me that if you want something, you have to work for it.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

My most memorable night from this year would have to be our soccer teams' spaghetti night during season. There were endless amounts of laughter and I loved it!

What are your plans after graduation?

I am going to teach! (First grade at Myers Elementary in Yukon)

Tanner Pflueger - Dance Performance

"I will definitely miss all the incredible people I have met here. They have become family..."

Hometown

Norfolk, Nebraska

Describe your senior year in three words.

Bittersweet. Whirlwind. Worthwhile.

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Take every single opportunity to get involved or to spend time with your friends. Your homework will get done, but what matters most is the time you spend with your peers and the memories you will create. Those are the times you will remember from college, so don't throw that opportunity away.

What will you miss most about OCU?

I will definitely miss all the incredible people I have met here. They have become family and have been there for my triumphs and to pick me up when I have fallen. I know I can always count on them. They would drop anything to help me. Special shout out to my best friend Matthew, my fraternity family, and my sweet!

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

One professor that has been a role model to me from the beginning is Tiffany van der Merwe. She puts so much thought and time into her teaching and does everything she can in her power to provide the best education possible for the dancers. She not only helps us to improve our technique and dancing abilities, but she also gives us uplifting words of advice and wisdom that are inspiring and make you feel like you can conquer the world. She wants nothing but the best for us in everything we do.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

I can't choose just one so I'm going to break the rules and mention two. The first is Homecoming. I always love competing with Kappa Sigma in this school wide event. It gives our members the chance to come together and be creative and grow closer with one another. I have definitely made some of my fondest memories during this hectic, yet insanely rewarding time. The highlight of this year's Homecoming was that after 3 years, we finally placed first in LipSync, my personal favorite event.

Another memorable event was choreographing and setting my senior capstone in October. This was such a milestone as everything I have been learning culminated in this one event. I was so proud of everyone involved and felt so accomplished.

What are your plans after graduation?

My future goals are to move to New York City after graduation and to start auditioning for Broadway musicals, tours, cruise ships, and other performance jobs of the like. I plan to use the knowledge and skill set I have gained at this institution to its fullest extent.

Zack Travers - Business Administration with a Spanish minor

"The best way to get everything you can out of the college experience is to meet as many people as you can."

Hometown

Edmond, OK

Describe your senior year in three words.

Exciting, Fulfilling, Final

What advice would you give next year’s freshman class?

Get involved. The best way to get everything you can out of the college experience is to meet as many people as you can, and use this time as a way to figure out what you like and don’t like, and what your passions are. You’ll never know until you try!

What will you miss most about OCU?

Definitely walking across campus and seeing people I love and care about. At OCU I have to plan extra time walking to class because I know I’ll see people I want to stop and talk to, and I’ll miss that for sure.

What professor stands out from your time here, and why?

Jason Flores, Joe Meinhart, and Karen Youmans have been very supportive of me in my endeavors both in and outside of the classroom.

What was your most memorable moment from this year?

Homecoming was a blast, it was great to compete with my brothers and take home the Homecoming King crown!

What are your plans after graduation?

I will start working in the OKC nonprofit sector, and see where that takes me, eventually attending grad school for my Masters in either Nonprofit Management or Public Administration.