Thinking, learning growing - L&L's recipe for success Department flourishes in classroom, contests, community

When asked why OC’s Department of Language & Literature consistently produces outstanding students, alumni and faculty, people give surprisingly similar answers.

“In my time as an English major, I have been challenged in my beliefs and grown because of it. All the members of our department strive to push one another,” said Justin Neill, a senior English writing major.

“While I was soaking in all this wonderful information about literature, I was actually learning how to think. I would say those have been the greatest blessings – learning how to think for myself, to think deeply, and to think from every possible angle, not only about literature but about my entire world,” said Rebekah Folger, a recent graduate with English and chemistry degrees.

“Our department invites open discourse, encourages critical thinking and works to make the classroom an environment to foster individual growth in a communal setting,” said Dr. Cami Agan, Language & Literature department chair.

Because students are allowed to stretch their own intellectual and faith limits, they also are able to reach the highest levels of academic achievement and personal growth.

Recent graduates of the department have gone on to flourish in fields as varied as their gifts and passions, such as academics, law, marketing, education, ministry and publishing.

Majors are also making a name for themselves while still at Oklahoma Christian. The OC chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the national English honors society, is a strong and constant presence in the national arena.

The student-produced literary journal, Soundings, was awarded Best Literary Journal at the 2008 Sigma Tau Delta National Convention. Led by Soundings sponsor Dr. Peggy Gipson, the students followed that up with a national runnerup finish in 2009.

Members of the Department of Language & Literature not only excel in academia, though; they also find ways to integrate their faith and learning and transform it into action.

The Community Literacy Project, spearheaded by professor Gail Nash, combines those who appreciate language and desire to serve with those who can benefit from it.

OC students and staff meet with people seeking to learn English as a second language in weekly tutoring sessions, developing relationships and imparting valuable skills to others.

A weekly departmental chapel service also integrates the mind and soul. Faculty and students come together to express their faith, oftentimes through a poem, passage or thought they have come across in their classes. The department also offers Spanish chapel services.

“This allows students the chance to worship in a second language, or for some, their first language,” said Dr. Tina Ware, professor of Spanish. “It also helps prepare students for experiences they may have abroad doing mission work.”

These opportunities and many more combine to create the atmosphere of openness and challenge described by so many students and faculty.

“I know I’m supposed to talk about our outstanding classrooms, innovative curriculum and nurturing community,” said Dr. Scott LaMascus, professor of English. “But the real truth is that giving our best to Christ in all things is one of the amazing things about the atmosphere here. We’re on a quest for meaning. Study hard, ask good questions and work together with friends and faculty. That’s my idea of a recipe for success.”

By Ann White (04)