My Take On TU: First-Generation Student Blazes Trail

Stephanie Mandujano personifies the definition of determination. As the first person in her family to attend college, she is blazing the trail for her younger siblings. The Tulsa native recalls a drive to succeed that began at an early age and says she always knew she would continue her education beyond high school. Acceptance letters arrived from The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the University of Arkansas and The University of Tulsa. Mandujano’s heart told her that one stood apart from the others.

Making TU Your Home

Katie Snyder is a 2017 TU graduate from Des Moines, Iowa. She graduated with a degree in Media Studies and recently accepted a position with JNA Advertising in Overland Park, Kan.

Katie Snyder does not wait for opportunity; she creates it. In four years at The University of Tulsa, Snyder has established a legacy of not only finding her place in nearly every TU community, but also making TU her home.

Leaving her hometown, Des Moines, Iowa, Snyder launched a new adventure in Tulsa. Without knowing anyone, “It was hard to put myself out there, but it is something that you absolutely must do if you want to get the full experience out of college,” Snyder said.

Her communications prowess was triggered her first year by assisting the TU Athletic Department. From softball to basketball, Snyder did media relations for more than 500 games. As a freshman, Snyder won an award from the Association of Women in Communications based on her sports and public relations experience.

Through the TU Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC), Snyder interned at the Tulsa Sports Commission for class credit. From the tourism perspective, Snyder learned the importance of room availability in hotels and even how to set up soccer nets for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship. “It was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done,” she confided.

Vince Trinidad, the executive director of the Tulsa Sports Commission, described Snyder as a “dynamo” and explained that her internship coincided with major national-level sporting events. No matter the challenge, “her enthusiasm and energy knows no limits,” Trinidad said.

Throughout her TU career, Snyder interned at Propeller Communication and Saxxum. She advertised for events like Tulsa’s Great Raft Race, Tulsa Oktoberfest and Tulsa Tough. It was not long until the Media Studies faculty found a rising star.

Media Studies adjunct faculty member Bill Hinkle knew Snyder was special on the first day of class. “There is nobody that is more committed, more polished and more driven to be successful than Katie Snyder, nobody,” Hinkle said.

With Hinkle’s mentorship, Snyder discovered advertising along with professional opportunities to test her advertising skills. The National Student Advertising Competition allows students to create advertising campaigns for a national company and present them at a conference. As a sophomore, Snyder was the runner-up presenter for a Pizza Hut campaign, which meant she was tasked to memorize the entire script.  On the first day of rehearsal, “She shows up Monday and had already memorized all 20 minutes, of everybody’s part. That never happens,” Hinkle said.

The following year, Snyder led the team in an advertising campaign for Snapple. Because Snapple is in a precarious glass bottle, grocery stores place them on the bottom shelf, and with the TU team’s tagline, “bottoms up,” Snyder knew they were taking a risk. To glorify the bottom shelf, they even rewrote the words to “Friends in Low Places.”  Snyder’s team chose humor to highlight where customers can find Snapple. Unfortunately, the judges were not amused.

“I’m proud that when we failed, it wasn’t because we came in with a mediocre idea that could be easily overlooked. We came in with something bold that makes them think differently about their product. I think that that’s our job,” Snyder explained.

The Snapple defeat did not deter Snyder, and she received the highly competitive Stickell Internship, which showcases the 16 best advertising students in the nation. The internship included placement in a top public relations firm. Snyder worked for PulsePoint Group in Austin, Texas, which focuses on digital consulting and crisis communication. Snyder’s first client was a Japanese energy company, which had a nuclear disaster in the past. When it comes to a crisis, “always have a human voice and be quick and decisive with your communication,” Snyder said.

Snyder flexed her public relations skills for TU in the NOVA Fellowship, which is managed by Associate Professor of Marketing Charles Wood. NOVA helps students problem solve and bring big ideas into fruition. “I tend to have big dreams, and I don’t know how to make them happen,” Snyder said. Her innovative project was to bring TEDx talks to TU. When Woods heard the TEDx plan, “I believe I shouted ‘Yes’ and threw my arms up like they had scored a touchdown,” he said.

After months of planning, Snyder interviewed 40 speaker candidates, and with the theme of “innomagine,” which combines innovation and imagination, TU held its first TEDx. The event was so popular that TEDx has agreed to be an annual TU event. “It’s a gift to TU that I get leave when I graduate,” Snyder said.

Snyder has worked as a university ambassador, freshman orientation leader, resident assistant, and she also won an Outstanding Senior Award. Snyder credits her accomplishments to supportive faculty and TU’s friendly environment. She advises incoming freshman to “jump in and take advantage of all there is here.”

The University of Tulsa is Snyder’s home away from home: “We’ve got enough for it to be home to anybody, and if you don’t have it, you can create it.”

My Take On TU: Top 10 Cool Spots On Campus

Today’s blog post is written by Brittany James, a senior Mechanical Engineering major from Lee’s Summit, Mo. Brittany will be graduating in May and recently accepted a position with Kiewit Engineering and Design Co., in Kansas City.

It’s hard to miss the beauty of Tulsa’s campus on a gorgeous spring day. With the bright sun, vibrant blue and yellow flowers and pristine courtyards, it is a gem like no other. However, the best spots on campus are sometimes those places outsiders don’t know about.  Get the 411 on the Top 10 Cool Spots on Campus below!

It’s not every day you can read a first edition Frankenstein or a bible straight off the Gutenberg press, but TU’s Special Collections has everything you need from original World War I memorabilia to more James Joyce artifacts than you knew existed. 10/10 recommend stopping by to pay them a visit!

Whether it is sunrise, mid-day, or when the stars populate the sky, nothing beats the view of downtown Tulsa from McFarlin Library’s steps. It’s where I go whenever I need to think or update my Snapchat story. Stick around long enough and you’ll probably witness a TU proposal first hand.

There’s nothing that compares to a sold-out basketball game with everyone on their feet cheering the Golden Hurricane on to victory. Running across campus because your 10 minutes late for your honor society initiation since the atmosphere had you too fired up is different story…

Tulsa GIF by SB Nation - Find & Share on GIPHY

To the untrained eye, it may look like a heap of unorganized metal and wood, but it’s actually student innovation at its finest. From the 3-D printer to the laser cutter and the mill to the lathe, nothing is beyond the imagination of TU students hard at work.

TU students are incredibly talented in all fields and art is no exception. The Alexander Hogue Gallery exhibits the best of the best. It’s always a good time to appreciate fancy art, eat some mini appetizers and pretend you’re not a poor college student for the night all while admiring the talent of people you’re lucky enough to consider your friends.

It’s not every day you can pretend you’re going long for a Hail Mary on your very own Division 1 football field with your friends, but I’ve lived the dream on Skelly Field. Students turn it into an intramural softball diamond in the spring or simply stop by to kiss the 50 yard line excited to be a part of the tradition.

Whether it’s Phi Mu Alpha and Sigma Alpha Iota serenading us with their velvet voices or the TU theatre department bringing down the roof with their next Broadway production, the talent in this building is phenomenal. I sometimes hope when I’m in there some of their talent will rub off on me considering I can’t even clap on beat.

The closer we get to summer, the more and more TU students you’ll find throwing a Frisbee around on Harwell Field or soaking in some rays. Sometimes you’ll get extra lucky and people will bring their dogs along to play. Don’t forget your sunscreen though because that after-finals nap on the fresh grass might not be as nice as you might think.

What’s a better way to appreciate our campus than relaxing hammock style?? With the fresh smell of flowers and bright blue skies, a hammock can even make reading a textbook a tolerable afternoon activity.

Whether it’s a slightly chilly night or a warm summer day, the Student Union pergola and fire pits are the best place to go to relax. With twinkle lights, a warm fire and comfy seats, it’s incredibly easy to curl up and pretend you’re in a lodge in Colorado. It gets your mind (and stress levels) off campus without even leaving.

I hope you can tell the less than square mile coverage that makes up the place I call home is full of surprises and fun spots. What makes it even better is the amazing people you get to share these great places with.

Following My Passion for Music…as a Communication Major

odssey picToday’s blog post is written by Erin Jones, a junior Communication and Spanish major from Bemidji, Minn.

Music has always played a very important role in my life.  At a young age, I started playing piano, and not long after, I picked up the harp.  During fifth-grade band, something within me decided that trumpet was a good idea, but my band teacher knew that I was meant to play the French horn. On top of that, singing has also been a passion of mine.  I often find myself with a tune in my head and many times, my friends let me know when I’m singing softly and I don’t realize it! Okay, so maybe not as softly as I think.

I participated in band and choir all throughout high school, and coming to TU as a wee little freshman in 2014, I thought I would take a break from music. That was my biggest mistake of freshman year.  I quit the one thing that I enjoyed most for no good reason.  After speaking to my friends who were members of TU’s outstanding music school and the various ensembles here at TU, I realized that I wanted to share their experiences; I wanted to play music again.  Not because I had to, but because I wanted to…because I longed to.

kathleen and erinIn 2015, I joined the Sound of the Golden Hurricane Marching Band as a sophomore.  Yes, it was weird to be a Communication and Spanish major in a group largely composed of music majors, but that didn’t make a difference in this group.  In the Sound, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a music major or a nursing major, whether you play clarinet or baritone.  This outstanding group of musicians knows when to be serious. They know when to have fun, and most importantly, they know how to make people feel at home.  Music brings people together, and that’s exactly what the Sound does.  In the Sound, we are a family.  Every family is unique, and our 100+ members come from all different majors, backgrounds, and cities across the U.S.

As a freshman, get involved with the activities that make you happy, the ones that bring out the best in you, and the ones that fulfill your happiness.  I know I am glad that I did!

Mellophones Sound 2016The Sound is my home. The University of Tulsa is my home. Welcome home, TU students. Welcome home.

One Heart, Many Homes

TUToday’s blog is from Katie Snyder, a senior Communication major from Des Moines, IA.

“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adeney

If you’re like me, college may be the first time that you’ve lived somewhere other than where you grew up. I didn’t know anyone in Tulsa when I arrived as a freshman, and I was terrified by the transition, but it quickly became a second home to me.

The only trouble with home is that you never want to leave it. Home is where you feel comfortable and in control. But you should leave, at least temporarily. When you live somewhere else, you discover more about yourself, find new people and places to love, and you learn to appreciate your home again for all new reasons.

Even if The University of Tulsa is right down the block from you, there are so many opportunities at TU to extend yourself and get uncomfortable (in a good way). In part, it is simply being open to new and different people. TU has such a diverse population of students that I now have friends not only across the country, but across the world. You can also join clubs and organizations that introduce you to new cultures, ideas and passions. Studying abroad allows you to not just visit another place, but live there and immerse yourself fully in the culture.

DesMoinesYou can also take jobs and internships across the country. I am spending my summer interning at PulsePoint Group, a crisis communication and digital consulting firm in Austin, Texas. For the second time in my life, I packed up my belongings and moved to a place I had never been and didn’t know anyone. In exchange for the familiarity of home and the comfort of having those I know around me, I have gotten an adventure that I will never forget. I live in a house with seven awesome roommates, who are mostly students at the University of Texas. I spend my week working for a company with clients all over the world, and I spend my weekends paddle boarding on Ladybird Lake, hiking Greenbelt trails, listening to live bands and shopping on South Congress.

AustinTXIn college, you get the chance to leave your heart all over the place. Part of mine is in Des Moines, where I grew up and where my family is. A part of my heart is in Tulsa, where I have had the opportunity to learn and change and meet incredible people. After this summer, I will leave another part in Austin, a city that has surpassed all of my expectations. It’s true, you never feel entirely at home in one place again. Instead, you get to claim a bunch of different places as a part of you, and that is so much better.

Fall In Love With Greek Life

IMG_1147Today’s blog is from Brittany James, a junior Mechanical Engineering major from Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Greek Life is love, encouragement, confidence, silliness, a community, an opportunity, a lifetime of truth and loyalty, and a support system. Greek Life is my life. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, most people from my high school were surprised I not only went through recruitment, but that I stuck with it. And I haven’t just “stuck with it”; I’ve fallen in love with it. Just what is it that makes Greek life so special? What makes me want to put my letters on everything I own and throw what I know in every photo with pride? Why should you give sorority recruitment a shot?

Check out the flow chart for some of the more basic arguments, but if you really want to get to the heart of it, for me it really comes down to three things.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 1.05.40 PM
IMG_0610The first is the idea of being a part of something bigger than myself. My sorority history, ritual, and values transcend both time and distance. Through it, I have had the opportunity to meet sisters from across the United States and prove to myself that my sorority is more than a dot on the map in the middle of Oklahoma. One of my favorite sisters I’ve ever met is a 96-year old woman named Fio. Fio has been a Greek woman for 75 years. She is a major donor to my organization, and she still joins in the dance party when Katy Perry is singing.

Women like Fio remind me that being a Greek woman isn’t about me, myself and I. Instead, it’s about the girl scouts I mentor, the sisters I make smile on a bad day, the people I help in our community, and the national and local leaders that inspire me. I have no doubt that my sorority has given me the confidence, tools, and support needed to be a part of the small acts of change in the world for the better. The grand scale Greek life composes is extraordinary and has the power to do amazing things with such amazing women involved. To be counted among those women is both a blessing and a continuous inspiration.

And although my little dot does extend beyond Tulsa’s boundaries, my sisters here are my support system, my encouragement base, and my best friends. They encourage me to do the things I never would have imagined myself capable of, and they don’t let me stop there.

From supporting me on our executive council as a freshman to pushing me to be President, they’ve helped me discover a lot about myself and changed the direction I want my life to go. They’ve also completely embraced all of my little quirks and obsessions. They fill my Facebook wall with cute corgi videos, banter about my baseball teams with me, and let me eat all the Mexican food I want.

The only thing they’ve put their foot down on is wearing socks with flip flops, but I suppose I can’t really blame them for that. And while those are the things I’m passionate about, my sisters have different likes and obsessions. There are those who can sing like Adele (I can’t even clap on a beat) and others are vegan (hello, have they heard of ice cream?). And while I don’t have those things in common with them, there’s more to us than our likes and our interests. Instead, it’s our values that unite us and bring us together. Be it as simple as sharing corgi videos or supporting me as President, there’s nothing quite like a sisterhood.

Lastly, I sincerely believe that my involvement in Greek life makes me a better person everyday. I don’t think it’s changed me; I’m not a different person because of Greek life. But I am a better person because of it. I always said, “Oh no, Greek life isn’t for me.” But that’s what society was telling me, and, like usual, society had no idea what it was talking about. If I didn’t care about academic success, becoming a strong leader, and making friendships based on my values, then yes, Greek life wouldn’t have been for me. But I do care about those things. I care about them a lot, and Greek life helps them become a reality for me.

I am a lot of things. I’m a girl. I’m an engineer. I’m a daughter, and a sister, and a granddaughter. I’m a community volunteer. I’m a Presidential Scholar. I’m a role model. I’m president of the engineering honor’s society on my campus. I’m a national leadership award recipient. I’m a corgi lover and a baseball fanatic. But above all, I am first and foremost a Greek woman in everything I do. So yes, I love wearing my letters and throwing what I know for artsy Instagram photos. But more than that, I love my sorority for the value it has added to my life. I would encourage anyone to take the chance and give sorority life a shot. Some may decide it really isn’t for them, and that’s completely okay. You will still have the opportunity to meet great girls and make friends through the process. But I would be willing to bet that the majority of people will surprise themselves and fall in love with it- just like I have.

Top 5 Reasons To Go Home On Spring Break

IMG_5118Today’s blog comes to us from Katie S., a junior Communication major from Des Moines, Iowa.

It’s Spring Break at the University of Tulsa, which means I could go to a beach or take a road trip with friends to somewhere exotic; but instead, I am taking one of my few opportunities during the year to go home to Des Moines, Iowa. It’s at least ten degrees colder than Tulsa on any given day, making it a less than ideal Spring Break destination, but once you leave for college, you’ll find there are a lot of reasons to enjoy going home. Here are my top five

IMG_6936 (1)1. Home is where the pets are. – Though I have made many strong, lasting friendships at The University of Tulsa, no one will ever be as loyal or loving as my dog. Each time I come home, she is so overcome with excitement that her whole body wags, rather than just her tail, and she leans on me demanding attention for hours. Pet deprivation is one of the most difficult things about living on-campus, so I soak up all the quality time with my furry friends that I can while I am home for breaks.

2. Food made with love. – No matter how good Chick-fil-a is (and I can confirm that it is very good) there will come a time when you miss meals from home. For me, it is my parent’s spaghetti that I miss most, and it’s the first meal I ask for when I get back. Not to mention the fact that by some mysterious magic, the fridge at home is always full! It is a welcome break for my stomach and wallet to stop eating out and enjoy some home cooking.

3. Enjoying all the local spots I miss. – However, if I do decide to eat out, I get to choose from all of the restaurants that I can’t visit while I’m at school – B-Bops, Centro, Zombie Burger, and more. If I bring someone home with me, I love to go to my favorite places in town and show off the local cuisine. This extends beyond just restaurants, as all of my favorite shops get a visit while I am home.

IMG_26494. You get treated like a celebrity. – Your neighbors, your friends’ moms, your parents’ co-workers…they are all so excited to see you and find out how everything is going. They ask you all kinds of questions about your life at college and make you feel very important for picking a major and waking up by yourself and all of the other little things that you accomplish on a daily basis.

Not only will the adults in your life be excited to see you, but also the reunion with your close friends from high school is a relief, because often these are friends that know you better than anyone. They have seen you through your various life phases (and braces) and they still love you anyway, and can’t wait to see you.

5. The ability to drive. – My freshman year, I didn’t have a car on campus, and while that was never a problem, I relished the opportunities I got at home to drive around my favorite place, blasting the radio and chauffeuring my friends and family. At college, you get a lot of freedom and independence, but it doesn’t match the feeling of being behind the wheel for the first time in a long time with a full tank of gas, especially when you are home and feel confident in your ability to drive around and not get lost.

College is great. It is exciting and hectic and challenging and fun. But sometimes, this means that you need a break to catch your breath. Home is a great place to get some rest and relaxation and see the people that mean the most to you.