Recently, 125 Oklahoma Christian University seniors received national recognition for more than scholastic accomplishments.
According to its website, Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities is the pinnacle of scholastic achievement by students and is an exclusive honor at more than 1,000 colleges in the nation, one of which is Oklahoma Christian.
Henry Pettus Randall, Jr. started Who’s Who Among Students in 1934. Randall attended the University of Alabama and received several opportunities to join honor societies but could not join due to the membership fees. He decided to build an honors program based on academic merit rather than financial ability, thus beginning the Who’s Who Among Students program.
Stephanie Caldwell, executive assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, said she is responsible for compiling the Who’s Who Among Students list for the Oklahoma Christian campus.
“Each year Who’s Who sends me a packet which alerts me to the deadline and quota for submission,” Caldwell said. “For this year, the quota for Oklahoma Christian was 125 students.”
The selection of students to be included on the Who’s Who Among Students list is made each fall with nominations from the university’s faculty and administration.
Caldwell said after receiving the quota, she requests a list from the Registrar of students who hold senior hours — 90 or more credit hours — and who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The list of students is then shared with department chairs. From there, the department chairs rank the students for Caldwell and she takes the top 125 and submits those names for inclusion in the Who’s Who Among Students list.
Who’s Who Among Students Honoree Erika Carter said she saw the recognition as a big deal, especially pertaining to her future.
“It adds to a resume but on top of that it can distinguish you from a pool of people that someone is looking through in the interviewing process,” Carter said. “I feel like now in the job market it’s not just graduating from college that matters, it’s showing leadership skills and good work ethic that gets you hired, not just a list of achievements.”
Honoree Garrett Andrews said the recognition allows him to honor his parents as they have helped him financially with school. Andrews said receiving the award shows his parents he does not take their involvement for granted.
“If students don’t have a mark to strive for other than a 4.0 GPA, sometimes they’re just OK with ambiguity or mediocrity,” Andrews said. “The Who’s Who list gives a marker to aim for outside of just being academically successful. Students can actually attain something like this if they are willing to work for it.”
The students on the list are recognized not only for their academic accomplished but also for their contributions to their community and university.
“It’s a good feeling to be recognized by your university as someone who could be a potential leader,” Andrews said. “All these little things on campus I’ve been involved with such as a social service club, Earn Your Wings and being a Community and Ministry Advocate for Phase 3 stand out to department chairs and the administration. It’s an encouragement that I think most students are subconsciously looking for to say you’re doing the right kind of things.”
Honoree Lydia Harlow said the award encourages her to continue her hard work, and also helps her stand out when applying for jobs.
“I’ve built a really good relationship with a lot of my professors in my department, which has been really nice and it means a lot that they recognize that,” Harlow said. “It’s good motivation for me to keep working hard at school. It’s nice to have a little reminder that you’re doing well. I think it’s a positive aspect for my resume, especially as I’m getting closer to looking for summer internships and eventually a job.”
However, not all honorees agree on the importance of the Who’s Who Among Students list. Honoree Austin Wondra said he had heard of the list once or twice but didn’t exactly know what it was.
“It was more of a ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ recognition,” Wondra said. “I think the biggest thing with it is there is a scholarship opportunity I can apply for but other than that I don’t think it’s a huge deal for me. I’m not going to put it on my resume or anything, [but] it’s still cool to be recognized.”
Recipients receive an award certificate and the opportunity for scholarships exclusively available to those on the Who’s Who Among Students list.