university of tulsa logo

June 2016

Past Experiences Shape Future Goals

IMG_3321Today’s blog post is from Brittany James, a senior Mechanical Engineering major from Lee’s Summit, Mo. Brittany is living in Chicago this summer while she interns for Burns & McDonnell.

During the school year, I spend extra hours in the library. I stay up late writing lab reports, and I spend all hours of the day studying for the multitude of tests I have every semester. But this summer, I’ve traded that in for kayaking down the Chicago river, shopping the Magnificent Mile, watching Broadway plays on the regular and witnessing the Cubs make history. You could definitely say I’m enjoying this summer. How did I go from a broke and tired college student to seemingly living it up in downtown Chicago? It definitely all points back to the opportunities and support I have found during my college career at TU.

IMG_3442My name is Brittany James, and I’m a senior Mechanical Engineering student at The University of Tulsa. In addition to all of the fun things I’m doing this summer, I’m also working 40 hours a week for the energy department in Burns and McDonnell’s regional office in Chicago, Ill. I am absolutely loving it. I’ve always enjoyed my engineering classes. I consider them a challenge, and one that I willingly accept. I like the engineering community at TU; I find my professors very supportive and friendly, and I have my own group of engineering friends. But this summer, the summer before I graduate, has encouraged me to look at where my engineering future is headed as opposed to the college life to which I I have become accustomed.

IMG_3238Last summer, I looked at my internship as a stepping stone. I saw it as something to do during the summer while also expanding my knowledge of the industry. I liked it. I found it interesting and considered it a summer well spent. But I was also living in my hometown, where I knew I didn’t plan on staying after graduation. I was working in a city because of it’s convenience, not because that’s where I wanted to be. I was more than excited to return to the familiarity I knew at TU and resume my daily life there as I felt my life had been on pause during the summer. This summer, I have a new perspective. My internship is no longer something “to do,” but it’s something I may do for the next several years. I’m no longer just working, but I’m analyzing the work I do, the people I work with and the city I’m living in. I’m trying to judge, as a young 21-year-old, if this is a future I can see myself living for the next several years. It’s daunting to say the least. I’ve decided that I can’t operate on pause mode any longer. The future is quickly approaching, and I’ve decided to live it to the fullest. I’ve no desire to press fast forward, but I do take each day as it comes and ensure it is worthwhile.

IMG_3264During the week, I wake up earlier than I’d like, make the 10-minute trek to my office and pick up my daily Starbucks from one of the 20 shops in my ½ mile radius. My day consists of a variety of tasks, but the best part is that they are REAL tasks. My office has me working on real projects and experiencing work as an intern that people would be doing their first few years out of college. Not only is this helpful in terms of determining where I see myself in the future, but it gives me a sense of satisfaction in the present. At the end of the day, I can go home knowing that I made a contribution. Not only is my work enjoyable in the professional sense, but I also enjoy the personal aspects as well. I’ve been welcomed into a young and vibrant working community where hard work is balanced with daily laughter and high spirits.

To be honest, as different as it may be, it’s a comforting parallel to the community I have found in my experiences at TU. It is that community that has brought out the best in me. It has refined my leadership skills, sharpened my desire for knowledge, and supported me through everything. TU has taught me the value that comes with a good education. More than that, The University of Tulsa has imprinted upon me the importance of community and how to identify an environment that I will prosper in.

IMG_3380My internship this summer is a two-way interview. It gives me the opportunity for my employer to judge my performance and compatibility and the opportunity for me to do the same with them. It’s that second part that I think people often forget; I, us, you, the young college students- we also have a say! After being spoiled by the experiences I have found at TU, I have absolutely no interest in accepting a job where I am not enjoying the life I live, both professionally and personally. Regardless of where I work after graduation, I take comfort in the fact that it will be a conscious and well-informed decision on my part. And hey, let’s face it, riding Segways through the streets of Chicago, running along the waterfront, and exploring world class museums are some pretty nice bonuses along the way to figuring that out.

TEDx Returns to TU

IMG_5118Today’s blog is from Katie Snyder, a senior Communication major from Des Moines, IA. Katie has organized the TEDxUniversityofTulsa event the last two years.

Last year, a classmate and I organized the first ever TEDxUniversityofTulsa. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, seeks to spread powerful new ideas through moving, interdisciplinary talks. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

In my first year as an organizer, I had the benefit of not knowing just how arduous a task I was taking on. However, planning this event for the second time gave me the opportunity to improve it and build a great team. This year’s event was aimed at sparking discussion and connection around our theme, “Truth and Dare.” We chose this theme because truth often requires us to be daring, and daring often leads us to new truths. Our speakers and performers shared their truths and challenged attendees with their dares.

04-08-16 TEDx-164This year my co-organizer, Sam Beckmann, a sophomore computer science major, and I worked to make this event a campus tradition. We chartered the organization through TU’s Student Association and put out a call to campus for team members. We got fellow students to help with everything from film to stage management to budgeting to graphic design. TEDxUniversityofTulsa is completely student run and dependent on the skills of the students on our campus. Similarly, our speakers and performers are all University of Tulsa students and faculty, which allows us to showcase the incredible ideas and talents of our community. We had speakers on topics ranging from energy and sustainability to history and museums to psychology and professional development. We had two musicians perform, one folk singer/songwriter and one indescribable remix of a popular song, as well as a spoken word artist.

JR6A1026In the interest of keeping this event going each year, each organizer plans the event for just two years and trains the next leader, so sadly this was my last year in charge of this incredible event. It is bittersweet to realize I am passing this event on and entrusting it to someone new, but I know that it is in good hands with Sam and his next co-organizer. I can’t wait to see what this grows into as it changes and improves each year.


This is something special. Our campus will continue to be defined and inspired by events like this – events that are planned and executed by students for students, driven by innovative ideas and aimed at changing perspectives.

Staying Home to See the World

532361_457953810889039_1314322853_nToday’s blog is from Elissa Stiles, a TU Class of 2014 graduate with a degree in International Studies and a minor in Spanish. Elissa currently works as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Center of Global Education on TU’s campus. She will be attending TU Law School this fall.

Six years ago, I grudgingly added TU to my list of college applications because I knew it would make my parents happy. I had no intention of actually enrolling at TU or being anywhere near Tulsa for the next four years. “Home” was only twenty minutes from campus, I was tired of living in Oklahoma, and I intended to see the world. In spite of my own prejudices, TU kept creeping up toward the top of my college list until one day in April, I realized that my greatest opportunities actually were in Tulsa. I signed an acceptance letter and secretly hoped staying so close to home wouldn’t keep me from seeing the world.

11865318_1134090726618462_7456678881296704807_oToday, I’m writing this from my desk on campus as a full-time employee of the university. I’ve lived in three different countries and visited three others, I’ve studied four foreign languages, and the TU degree hanging in my office recognizes my international studies major – a self-designed program that TU allowed me to create and personalize.

Far from holding me back, TU was my springboard to the world as an undergraduate. I had planned to study abroad once, in Peru; only a few weeks into my summer trip, I knew that international travel was my passion and calling. After an amazing two months of Spanish immersion and Inca exploration, I came back to TU determined to save enough money to go abroad again.

10429364_881188131908724_2879651777751614473_nAs a student, I applied for a job with the Center for Global Education (CGE) and worked as both a peer advisor for TU students going abroad and a summer intern for a Chinese student welcome program. By senior year, I was ready for another adventure, so I packed my bags for a semester in Madagascar followed by a semester in Brazil. I missed my own graduation at TU because I was too busy doing field research during the 2014 World Cup in northeastern Brazil, and I’m so glad I did!

After graduation, I took a human resources job near Tulsa because it paid well. Within a year, I was ready to come home to TU. The CGE announced an open study abroad marketing position, and I applied immediately. After more than four years, I knew that TU was where I belonged – Tulsa taught me to be a world citizen, an ambassador for peace and a humble student. There is no job more valuable, in my mind than affording the same opportunity to every new student on campus.

My job here at TU is perfect, and the only thing that could entice me give it up is yet another opportunity for incredible experience. This fall, I’ll be starting law school – at TU, of course! I can only imagine which new countries I’ll explore through my Tulsa education during my law journey.

High-school “me” would be appalled at the idea of staying in Tulsa so long. Today, I think staying in Tulsa is the best choice I continue to make. TU gave me the wings to see the world.

TU Helping To Improve Mental Illness

This article was written for the Spring 2016 issue of The Univeristy of Tulsa Alumni Magazine. For more alumni stories, visit

Based on research of community needs, TU’s True Blue Neighbors Behavioral Health Clinic was formed to provide an experiential  learning environment for psychology graduate students while providing free services to the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood and a handful of agencies that require a mental health resource.

The facility, which opened near campus in 2015, offers therapy for individuals and families as well as testing for children referred by Tulsa Public Schools to determine what the underlying cause may be for academic issues.

However, the clinic was unable to serve some students from the nearby Kendall-Whittier Elementary School because many of the children are Hispanic and are just learning English or have parents who only speak Spanish.
BODY-jennifer-coronado-107That’s where Jennifer Coronado (BA ’15) comes into the picture. Coronado grew up in the neighborhood and attended Kendall-Whittier. Her native language is Spanish, and her undergraduate degree is in psychology.

“I love this community. I’m glad I can help open doors at the clinic to Spanish-speaking clients,” she said. “I chose psychology as a profession because I wanted to find ways to help people live better lives. Sometimes, someone’s psychological state affects their physical state.”

The Behavioral Health Clinic offers therapy based on the clients’ needs. Coronado said the graduate students, who are supervised by TU professors, employ empirically supported treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches clients to deal effectively with stressors, modify their thoughts and focus on their strengths. They also administer IQ tests to children and show them ways to cope with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“There’s been a high level of interest already. So far, we’ve been able to see everyone with only a short waiting list, mostly for Spanish-speaking clients. Now, we’ll be able to address their needs efficiently,” Coronado said.

She added that the teachers at Sequoyah Elementary and Kendall-Whittier Elementary, just a few blocks from the clinic, appreciate the university’s presence in the neighborhood. “TU volunteers and facilities mean increased resources for the school,” Coronado said.

And simply having a world-class college next door has opened the minds of the neighborhood children. “The children see the university as something attainable,” she said. “TU serves as a sort of role model, an example of how an organization can positively impact an entire community.”