By Abigail Kent
Turner Smith is a senior history and pre-law major at Oklahoma Christian University, hailing from the Chicago, IL, area. He grew up in the world of sports, rather than academics, and invested much of his time in baseball and running the student newspaper at Metea Valley High School. Upon arriving at Oklahoma Christian, Smith turned his attention to the numerous academic programs available at the university.
Smith is a member of the social service club Kappa Sigma Tau and is a student in Oklahoma Christian’s Honors Program. He is the president of Phi Alpha Theta, the history department’s honor society, and has presented several papers at national conferences, as well as regional conferences where he received first place his sophomore year and third place his junior year. Smith was Newman Civic Fellow his junior year, qualifying for the award in recognition for his potential in public leadership. He is also invested in the Taking Sides debate chapel which promotes dialogue on social, theological and political topics.
The legacy Smith will leave at Oklahoma Christian upon his graduation includes the development of Oklahoma Christian’s mock trial program. Founded in 2018, the mock trial program has grown remarkably under Smith’s leadership and expertise. He received Double All Regional awards two years in a row for his performance as an attorney. After graduation, Smith plans to attend law school and pursue a career as a practicing attorney.
Q: What was your childhood like growing up in the Chicago area?
A: I was actually born in Edmond and moved to Houston when I was two years old. We moved back to Edmond when I was four, then moved to Alabama where I lived until I was twelve or thirteen. At that time, we moved to Aurora, IL, in the Chicago area. I count Aurora as home the most because that is what I remember the most because I went through high school there.
Q: Was there a reason for all the moving around?
A: My dad is a preacher for the Church of Christ. Especially when preachers are starting out, their job seems to warrant a lot of movement.
Q: What is one of your fondest memories from your time in Chicago?
A: In high school, our newspaper would come out every month. We would do 10% of the work for three weeks and then the week of final deadlines would be insanity. On final deadline day we would stay at the school until 7 at night getting everything finished. That was so much fun because it was 20 of my closest friends hanging out and working on something we all enjoyed.
Q: How did you end up at Oklahoma Christian from Chicago?
A: When we lived here in Edmond, my dad was the campus minister at Memorial Road Church of Christ, and both my parents went to OC. My dad went all four years and my mom went for a semester before she got married. When we moved back to Edmond from Texas, my dad was the vice president of church relations at OC. So OC has always been in the family, and my parents had an expressed desire to attend a Church of Christ university.
Q: What was your motivation for starting the mock trial program at Oklahoma Christian?
A: Most of my friends were involved in public speaking through our high school newspaper and speech and debate program. They all went to big state universities and got involved in mock trial programs immediately because they wanted to go to law school. My first year of college, all I heard from them was how great and beneficial mock trial was. By the time I was a sophomore, I was frustrated at not having the same opportunity, but that boiled over into my desire to start something at OC.
Q: How would you describe the structure of a mock trial tournament for someone who is new to the program?
A: The easiest way to think about a mock trial tournament is like an extremely simplified trial in the real world. Most tournaments include four rounds over two to three days. Participating universities get two rounds to argue the position of the plaintiff and two rounds to argue the position of the defense. Members of each university’s mock trial team fill the roles of attorneys or witnesses. The structure of a round includes opening arguments, witness statements, cross-examinations and closing arguments. The whole round lasts about three hours.
Q: Pineapple on pizza?
Q: Favorite color?
Q: Favorite baseball team?
Houston Astros, though I am repentant at the moment because they just got caught in one of the biggest cheating scandals in baseball history.
Q: Books or movies?
Q: Best book?
A: The Harry Potter series. I like the last book the most because everything comes together, but “The Goblet of Fire” is really fun because J.K. Rowling does the most with her writing.
Q: Alternate career path?
A: Teaching. I would love to teach history and maybe even coach.
Q: Last meal?
A: I would choose to eat pizza, chicken nuggets from McDonalds and apple pie.
This article was completed as an assignment in an upper-level journalism course. It was edited by Talon staff and approved for publication.