Connecting With the Sooner Family Nationwide
During spring break, University of Oklahoma students head in all different directions. Some travel overseas for study abroad experiences or take vacations to the beach. Others go to their hometowns to relax and spend time with family. And some connect with fellow Sooners through programs offered by the university.
One such annual trip is Sooners on the Road, coordinated since 2010 by the OU Alumni Association. The purpose of this program “is to develop, strengthen and enhance the relationships between former students and current students.”
Each year, a group of six students visits two different cities in the United States to network with alumni both in social settings and in business environments. To be selected for the all-expenses paid trip, students go through an application and interview process. In 2018, the students traveled to Chicago, Illinois, and Nashville, Tennessee, and other past destinations include New York City, New York; Seattle, Washington; and Boston, Massachusetts; among others. This year, students are jumping on a plane and traveling to Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., to meet with OU alumni.
Kristen Williams, a junior majoring in musical arts with an emphasis in voice and psychology, participated in the trip last year while serving as the alumni relations chair for the Student Alumni Association.
Through networking with alumni, Williams realized just how deep OU roots run.
“The Sooner family’s a big deal,” the Houston, Texas, native explained. “Originally I just thought that it was here on campus – you make your friends, you’re in your organizations, and that’s the Sooner family – but the Sooner family is anyone who has graduated from here, from this university, and you’re tied to them just because of this school. That’s the sense of pride that we have at this school, and that’s something that is just so unique compared to others.”
Of course, the students did enjoy some tourist moments in Chicago and Nashville, like seeing The Bean in Chicago and eating at really good local restaurants, but the main focus of the trip was meeting with alumni. While the current students gained insight to life after graduation from the alumni, the alumni also wanted to hear about what is going on at the university now, Williams said.
“OU is not finished when you’re gone. Everybody still has this really strong sense of community as if they were still here,” Williams shared. “One reason I decided I wanted to do the trip is because I wanted to take advantage of all the experiences that I could have doing it. It was really eye-opening to see how OU is connected all around the country.”