This year, we’re shining a spotlight on the fantastic OKWU professors and staff members who dedicate their lives to helping students achieve their callings.
Today, we speak with Jana Russell, Academic Advisor and OKWU Prep Coordinator. Russell was born and raised in Bartlesville, attending Oklahoma State University for both her Bachelor of Science in Interior Design and her Master of Science in Interior Design, Facilities Management Emphasis. After completing her education, Russell worked for the Phillips Petroleum Company and ConocoPhillips for 28 years. Jana and her husband, Steve, have been married for 30 years, and they have three children together.
Describe to us your role at the university. What does a typical day look like for you?
“My official title is Academic Advising and OKWU Prep Coordinator. Since April, my days have been filled with advising incoming students, either conducting student advising meetings or preparing for student advising meetings. Additionally, I am working to grow the OWKU Prep program, our concurrent enrollment for high school students. Dr. Fisher and I are actively working to increase the number of partner high schools and enrollment.”
How did you end up here at OKWU?
“It had been a long-time dream of mine to work for a university; in fact, I earned my master’s degree for the purpose of teaching at a university one day. I had the opportunity to leave my job in the corporate world with a severance package, and this gave me the ability to pursue my passion for working in higher education. I watched the employment page at OKWU for several months, and one day an opening for a GPS advisor appeared. While I had always seen myself serving traditional-age students, I loved my time with GPS. I admire the tenacity of adult students who earn their degrees while working, and often while raising a family. When the academic advising role for traditional students was created, I was excited to pursue an opportunity on the traditional side of campus, too.”
What makes you passionate about your job? What’s your favorite part of the role?
“I love to serve people! My entire career has been in roles where I serve others in various ways. The opportunity to help students realize their goal of a college degree is really exciting to me. I treat each student’s schedule as if they were my own son or daughter – I want the very best for each of them. I am an advocate for OKWU students. I look for ways to help them earn success.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“I love to spend time with my family and friends, and I try to make sure I have time to run every single day, as this is the one consistent thing I do for myself. In the summer, I love to mow my lawn; it’s very relaxing to me. Organizing my life (my home, my garage, my files, etc.) is another thing I enjoy doing when I have time.”
What sets OKWU apart from other places you’ve worked?
“The Chimes and the Chapel! I have said multiple times that I hope I never quit hearing the chimes on campus. They are one reason I love college campuses so much. Chapel is another special part of what makes OKWU unique to other places I have worked – the student worship leaders are so talented. The services keep things in perspective and remind me of our mission. How blessed I am for the privilege to participate!”
Do you have a favorite spot on campus?
“OKWU’s campus, in general, is a favorite spot for me. The mansion is really beautiful and special. However, I would have to say: the view from my office window is my favorite. I love catching glimpses of students and their activities from my desk. College students are filled with energy and optimism that is contagious!”
When you’re looking for something to watch, do you go comedy or drama?
“Definitely comedy. Life without laughter and fun would be very boring to me.”
Do you prefer vacations to relax or vacations to do fun activities?
“I don’t relax very well. Even when I take a vacation to relax, I set goals to achieve. I love to hike in National Parks. Kayaking is the way I relax at the lake.”
Where’s your favorite place to eat in Bartlesville?
“I love to order salmon from the Painted Horse or Frank and Lolas!”
What was your favorite subject in school?
My least favorite subject was math. I enjoyed most other subjects – I’ve always loved learning!”
What would you say to a student thinking about committing to an OKWU education?
“Do it! OKWU has outstanding faculty in a close-knit community that helps students succeed and discover the Lord’s purpose for their life.”