Kedrick Nettleton, Staff Writer

No matter how many college visits a student goes on, it can be difficult to get a genuine taste of the academic experience on a given campus. That’s where OKWU’s brand-new Engage conference comes in.

Engage: College for a Day was designed to give high school students a “sneak peek” of the Christian collegE experience.

Over 150 high school students from Wesleyan Christian School and Wright Christian Academy attended academic lectures, experienced individualized breakout sessions, and got a taste of campus activities. The idea is that the students headed for college—whether that be OKWU or any number of other Christian institutions—will find themselves well-equipped for the transition.  

“We want to be a starting point in that journey,” Dalene Fisher, Assistant Provost and Dean of OKWU’s School of Arts and Sciences, said. “Whether students choose OKWU or not, we hope that they walk away with a desire for Christian higher education. We firmly believe that Christ is integral to every subject matter, and failure to acknowledge this will always leave scholarly pursuits incomplete.”

Fisher helped organize the event, but it was a true team effort to see it through to completion. Teams from Admissions, Student Development, and Academics, along with a handful of dedicated students, helped tailor the day to the needs and interests of a high school student, maximizing the value for both high schools.  

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“It’s a conference about finding our identity in Christ, and it’s about how every aspect of our lives points in that direction— how even subjects like Literature, STEM, and History do that.”  

The idea for Engage can be traced back over a decade, when OKWU regularly hosted “Worldview Days” on their campus. During those events, students from all around the area attended an intensive day of apologetics lectures, providing academic, scientific, and philosophical support for the Christian faith. This time around, the focus is more generalized, with three academic lectures provided by OKWU faculty on topics critical to a high school curriculum. Dubbed “Words, Worlds, and Wonder,” the breakouts consisted of lectures concerning STEM, taught by Dr. Brian TurnerEnglish, taught by Fisher, and History, taught by Professor Julie Hufstetler 

“These subjects will remain consistent year-after-year, as they are core material for high-school graduation,” Fisher said. “We hope to partner with these high schools in providing this material for them.”  

Todd Landers, WCS Superintendent, was enthusiastic about the opportunity for his students. “I look forward to our students attending the conference,” he said. “I believe this experience will help them recognize the importance of continuing their higher education in a Christ-centered, academically rigorous, and culturally relevant institution founded on God’s truth.”   

While each year’s content and focus will remain more or less the same, this year’s conference held a specific theme – Where do I Fit In? “It’s a conference about finding our identity in Christ, and it’s about how every aspect of our lives points in that direction—how even subjects like Literature, STEM, and History do that,” Fisher said.  

Ultimately, the Engage team knows that the value of the conference goes far beyond admissions numbers, image, or even the knowledge imparted throughout the day. The true value is in building a foundation of pursuing truth for the sake of Christ. 

“We hope students leave with a fuller understanding of their identity in Christ, especially as young people in a world that is calling them away from that assurance,” Fisher said.  


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