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International Women's Day

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International Women's Day

Pop culture features superheroes like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel who empower women of all ages, but there are also countless everyday women making an impact and making their voices heard in their communities.

On this International Women’s Day, we want to recognize some of the impressive students, faculty, and staff at the University of Oklahoma who are achieving success across a variety of disciplines. Christine Murrain, Katherine Ho, Dr. Lynn Soreghan, and Lynnetta Eyachabbe have completed exciting internships, pursued their passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, and taken up leadership roles through which they help train the next generation of students.

Keep reading below to learn more about these incredible women who are part of the Sooner family.

Christine Murrain

Christine Murrain

It’s been a star-studded few months for Christine Murrain.

The public relations senior from Lawton, Oklahoma, completed an eight-week publicity internship at Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank, California, through the Television Academy Foundation (TAF) last summer before returning to Hollywood for the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

In her publicity role at Cartoon Network, she had the chance to work on press releases and media kits, do media relations, pitch to different outlets, and attend San Diego Comic Con. She even heard from HBO’s West Coast Head of Productions on how they make “Game of Thrones,” which she said is one of her favorite shows.

As a TAF intern, Murrain attended the Creative Arts Emmys, which recognizes winners in technical categories like animation, sound, and editing. Some of the LA-based interns were set to serve as trophy presenters the following week at the Primetime Emmys, and Murrain made a comment to the internship coordinator that she would come back and sweep the floors for that awards show.

"You don’t get what you don’t ask for, which means that you have to do a lot of self-reflection on what you want and then be really confident to ask for it because a no is a no, but a yes can change everything.”

Although it was mostly a joke, she heard from the internship coordinator the following Tuesday offering her a work assignment in the Gifting Suite at the Primetime Emmys. Here she engaged with the talent, telling them about the TAF, sharing her experience as an intern and how the foundation has shaped her career thus far. She said this taught her how to carry herself in a professional manner while in a setting that was in no way normal to her but was normal to the celebrities.

“It truly was the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Murrain said. “It’s people coming in after they’ve won their Emmys and people coming in during their rehearsals to present Emmys. Sandra Oh came in, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve loved you since I was 12.’”

Murrain, who is active both in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and on campus in roles like the chair of the Gaylord Ambassadors and of the CAC Speakers Bureau and as a Burr Scholar for the President’s Leadership Class, is the current Outstanding Senior for Gaylord. Her internship experience confirmed that she would like to begin her career in public relations and publicity work, and after graduation, she hopes to land a job with Turner Broadcasting, which is the parent company of the Cartoon Network, in either Atlanta or Los Angeles.

Saying yes to the initial TAF internship continued to open doors for Murrain, and she said the value of asking for what she wants is a major lesson she has learned in the past year.

“It definitely taught me a lot about how one yes can lead to a hundred yeses,” she shared. “The biggest thing I think I’ve learned since this time junior year is really that you don’t get what you don’t ask for, which means that you have to do a lot of self-reflection on what you want and then be really confident to ask for it because a no is a no, but a yes can change everything.”

Katherine Ho

Katherine Ho

Katherine Ho has always enjoyed maps. Throughout her childhood, she and her family visited multiple national parks in the western half of the United States. Ho recalls receiving maps of these parks at each stop, and as a “really nerdy kid” she was also drawn to the maps in the “The Lord of the Rings.”

While taking a geographic information science course as an elective at the University of Oklahoma, Ho realized there was an opportunity for her to apply this interest to her career and switched her major to GIS.

“I didn’t ever know that it could be a career, and I just thought it was a fun thing that I liked,” Ho said. “It was really nice that GIS course happened to be one of the classes I took.”

In this major, which is located within the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, Ho learns how to use spatial data to help make decisions. For example, someone with a GIS degree might help a restaurant decide where to open a new location by mapping out current locations and looking at some demographics, she said.

This year, Ho serves as the president of the OU GIS club, and she has also worked at the Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling, or CASS, since October. One aspect Ho enjoys is that it is an interdisciplinary research organization, meaning people from across all different majors contribute to the work. Ho works under Dr. Laura Alvarez on hydrology-based research, and one of the other students she works closely with is a computer engineering major. The organization also utilizes drones for atmospheric monitoring projects, so Ho has been exposed to that area of science as well.

“It’s really a mixed bag of different perspectives and skills, so it’s cool to work with other people and see what they’re doing,” Ho explained. “I didn’t know anything about drones or anything before I started working there, so it’s been a crash course to learn how drones work and how the sensing process works, but it’s been super fun.”

The senior from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, will start OU’s Master of Science in geography program next fall and wants to research natural resource management. She said this interest also stems from her family’s national park trips.

“Just being exposed to that a lot as a child and doing all the hiking and seeing the natural environment made a big impact on me,” Ho shared. “I think they’re really important and as much as we can protect but still allow people to see and learn from all of this country’s natural resources would be really great.”

Dr. Gerilyn S. "Lynn" Soreghan

Dr. Lynn Soreghan

A sedimentary geologist, Dr. Lynn Soreghan primarily researches paleoclimate, or past climate, which she studies mainly by looking at ancient dust deposits. Soreghan is especially interested in the late Paleozoic time period of about 300 million years ago, which was the most recent time the Earth was an "icehouse" before today, meaning there are large ice sheets on the planet.

Soreghan attended UCLA for her undergraduate degree before going to the University of Arizona for her Ph.D. program. She then accepted a job at Amoco for about three years while working on getting academic papers published on the weekends. This led to a job at OU in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy in 1996, and she and her husband, who also teaches in the department, have been in Norman ever since. In January 2018, Soreghan became the first female director of the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics.

The youngest of eight children, Soreghan recalled taking hikes around Los Angeles with her family while growing up. When she received UCLA’s course catalog as a prospective student, she started looking through it from the very beginning at accounting. When she got to Earth and space sciences, she thought it sounded like it combined her love for the outdoors with science. Soreghan, a first-generation college student, ended up putting the major on her application, loved her first geology course, and never looked back. She continued to grow her love for the science and connected with her fellow students through department field trips, including one to Hawaii. At OU, she leads a field trip for her Depositional Systems and Stratigraphy class that visits several locations in southern New Mexico and North Texas.

Geoscience is about the Earth, Soreghan explained, and OU alumni with degrees in geoscience work in the broad areas of industry, government, and academia. This includes jobs at the Environmental Protection Agency, United States Geological Survey, Oklahoma Water Board, in the oil and gas industry, in education from the K-12 level to the university level, and in geoscience law.

“As a geologist, I like to tell students there’s no better time to become a geologist and there is nothing more important to the future of humanity than looking at the intersection of Earth and the environment, Earth and energy,” Soreghan shared. “We need energy, there’s no doubt about it, but we need to make sure that we don’t destroy our environment. Thinking about the Earth as a system and how it’s really connected — the atmosphere is connected to the biosphere is connected to the solid rock part of the planet is connected to the hydrosphere —and how that interacts is critical.”

Lynnetta Eyachabbe

Lynnetta Eyachabbe

During her first semester at the University of Oklahoma, Lynnetta Eyachabbe wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to study, but meeting someone who was studying management information systems provided her with clarity. The major was described to her as working with both computer information systems and people, and Eyachabbe instantly knew that’s what she wanted to do as well.  

Now, Eyachabbe works as the security awareness and outreach coordinator for OU Information Technology, a role through which she brings awareness to cyber security issues and helps show members of the campus community how to be safe with their online data. Eyachabbe is in her fourth year in this role and her 11th year overall with OU IT.

Through her job, Eyachabbe speaks with students, faculty, and staff across campus about cyber security. She also oversees activities, emails, and marketing for events during Cyber Security Awareness Month each October, helps with policy writing, and coordinates the department’s blog.

“It’s neat because I get to hear and see what different people are doing across campus,” Eyachabbe stated. “It’s neat to hear about the different areas, and I enjoy meeting people.”

Eyachabbe grew up in Coweta, Oklahoma, and graduated from Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, with a class of about 65 students. Even though she came from a small school, Eyechabbe said she did not find OU intimidating because she found a group of people who had the same interests as her, and she encourages future students to become involved with student organizations to find their fit on campus as well.

"It will be challenging, but it’s something you can do … You can do pretty much anything you want to if you’re trying to, and there’s a lot of support here.”

As for her love of computers, Eyachabbe said she has a middle school computer teacher to thank for that.

“There are several of us that actually have gone through the MIS program at OU who were in her classes, so I think that’s kind of neat,” Eyachabbe shared. “I just liked it and could see that computers were going to affect everything, and so I wanted to be a part of that.”

Eyachabbe is also passionate about STEM outreach. For women who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields, Eyachabbe said “go for it” and to seek support through organizations and programs on campus like Women in Engineering, Women in Science, and the Alpha Sigma Kappa sorority, among others.

“We need you. We need people. We need people in our state. We need people in the companies here in Oklahoma. We need people in our tribal nations that are in STEM degrees. So go for it,” Eyachabbe encouraged. “It will be challenging, but it’s something you can do … You can do pretty much anything you want to if you’re trying to, and there’s a lot of support here … We need more female voices because we bring a different perspective.”