Bartlesville, Oklahoma, wasn’t the likeliest destination for Ian Skor as a high school student.
Although his dad is an OKWU alumnus, Skor didn’t give OKWU much thought until a team from OKWU’s admissions department came to his church in Williston, North Dakota.
“I went because of the free food,” Skor noted with a smile. “And then a few weeks later, I just knew, that’s where I have to go.”
Skor was drawn in by the atmosphere of OKWU and his brief conversations with members of OKWU’s faculty, including Dr. Mike Fullingim. In fact, Skor began his freshman year as a Global Studies student with a special interest in linguistics.
Fast forward a couple of years, and Skor is set to graduate in December 2024 – as a biology major.
Finding the Right Fit
Skor has a lot of interests he could have pursued – science and music chief among them – and he decided after his first year as Global Studies major that he needed to make a change.
“I realized that, even though that’s something I do care about, that wasn’t something I was cut out for. After taking the classes, I thought, maybe I wasn’t the best fit.”
Skor had always had a love of science, in particular the area of conservation. His first book as a child was an animal encyclopedia. So after thinking it over, he made the decision to switch to a Biology major. It was the perfect fit.
Dr. Ackrion Mangimela serves as Skor’s academic advisor and has taught several of his classes. When Skor was beginning to look for an internship in his field of study last January, Mangimela brought an internship with the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center to his attention.
“The first thing that stands out about Ian is his calm demeanor,” Mangimela said. “I believe that his commitment to excellence in everything he does will open up great opportunities for him. He is a delight to have as a student.”
At Mangimela’s suggestion, Skor applied for the internship. After the interview process, he was offered the position. He started volunteering in April before the semester ended, and then began working there full-time in the summer.
Real World Experience
The Sutton Avian Research Center is dedicated to finding conservation solutions for birds and the natural world and is a leader in avian research and conservation. Skor’s role was to care for Attwater’s prairie chickens, ensuring they have food and water. The main goal of the program he worked for was for the birds to produce as many offspring as possible, due to their dwindling numbers in the wild.
“One of the big responsibilities was collecting eggs and incubating eggs,” he said, “and then raising the young either by hand or fostering them out.”
Skor had never worked with birds before, but he said he enjoyed the experience and learned a lot.
“It went from a job I didn’t think much of and blossomed into a lot of new connections and experiences.”
With those added experiences bolstering his confidence and his resume, Skor is now looking ahead to what might come after graduation. He hopes to find work in the field of animal conservation. While the specifics aren’t clear yet, he is thankful for the opportunities his time at OKWU has afforded him.
“The best part of my OKWU experience has been how helpful the faculty have been. There’s been a lot of times where I’ve had no idea what to do, but every time I’d come to them with questions or ideas, they were always right there to help me and support me in any way they could,” Skor said.
Thanks to OKWU’s Honors Program, Skor will bring the strength of his interdisciplinary training to whatever job he chooses after graduation.
“The Honors Program is about figuring out how to bring these different fields together. That’s one of the big appeals of the program – you become more well-rounded in general.”