Who’s Who Among Students is a national award that recognizes students who excel in scholastic achievement. At Oklahoma Christian University, 125 students reached the Who’s Who list. In an upper level journalism class, students interviewed 13 names off of the list.
Among one of the few Oklahoma Christian University student-athletes from Alaska, Katharine “Katie” Jones, 21, is spending her senior year juggling two varsity sports, a position on The Talon and an internship, in addition to her studies.
Jones, a Who’s Who winner, is a senior journalism major with a sports wellness minor from Juneau, AK. She is a member of the Oklahoma Christian cross-country and track and field teams, as well as the copy editor for the Talon, the Oklahoma Christian student online newspaper. She is currently interning at Sunbeam Family Services in Oklahoma City and is engaged to Nick Russell of Fort Scott, KS. The two will marry on June 24, 2017 at the church where they met three years ago.
Jones is the oldest of six and her siblings include Addi, 19, Kaleb, 13, Adonai, 9, Sarah, 8, and Isaac, 6. She is the daughter of a Coast Guard veteran and was homeschooled for eight years. Born in Louisiana, Jones and her family moved to Alaska when she was four.
Jones qualified for the NCCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships during her freshman season in the 5,000 meters, where she finished 17th with a time of 19:56.94. Jones also competed at nationals her freshman year in cross country and indoor track and her sophomore year in cross-country, indoor and outdoor track.
Jones interned for The Christian Chronicle during the summer of 2016 and wrote a front-page story about Hispanic teenagers being pushed out of the Church of Christ because of old-fashioned traditions. During her time on the Talon, she has served as a reporter, sports editor and copy editor.
In her free time, Jones said she enjoys hiking with her dog, Kodiak, reading and biking. She participated in the Oklahoma Christian Study Abroad Program, where she traveled to Vienna, Austria in the summer of 2015. She has visited 11 countries and said her favorite stop so far has been London.
Q: How did you hear about Oklahoma Christian from all the way in Alaska?
A: There was a couple at my church in Juneau who attended OC and got engaged here. When I was a senior, I was planning on coming down and looking at York [College] and the couple said to me, ‘Hey, while you are down there, why don’t you go look at OC?’ So, I came down here in November of 2012 and it was 75 degrees in Oklahoma, and I thought that was just the greatest thing.
Q: What was the hardest part about moving from Alaska to Oklahoma?
A: I would say the hardest part was accepting the fact that I was entering an entirely new stage of life and kind of throwing myself to the sharks. Or at least that was how it felt to me because everything was totally different, totally new. I had no way of preparing myself for what Oklahomans were going to be like, for what the culture was going to be like, what the weather was going to be like — everything was completely different from everything I had ever known.
Q: How do you feel being homeschooled impacted your life?
A: It taught me to rely on myself and not on other people. No one is going to do the work for you because you cannot cheat off anyone when it is just you and your brother. It also gave me a good work ethic and made me closer to my family.
Q: How have you managed juggling two varsity sports in addition to writing for the Talon and working an internship?
A: It really does not feel like two sports. It just feels like running year round. It becomes a fundamental part of life, so the running has not been as difficult to juggle as the academics and the Talon. Because that is entirely new, it has been the most emotionally complicated part of having so much on my plate.
Q: What has your time at Oklahoma Christian taught you?
A: I have learned so much about myself and who I am as a person. Everything from a runner, a journalist, a traveler — I have learned a lot about myself and who I want to be for the rest of my life. It has taught me that having good morals and work ethic will take you places you never imagined. The thing I learned the most is that taking chances to do something you think is right typically ends up being the right thing if you follow your heart and believe God will take you places.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: At home with a messy bun, wearing sweatpants, with a baby on my hip and looking like a zombie. That is probably where I will be in five years.