Earn Your Wings is one of Oklahoma Christian University’s biggest, wildest events, and it requires enthusiastic directors to lead the freshmen orientation week.
The Talon sat down with 2020’s Earn Your Wings directors Jacob Knox, Kennah Foster and Diego Zavarce to learn about their perspective and goals for the week.
What is your hometown and major?
Knox: Dallas, TX/Biology and Vocational Ministry
Zavarce: Edmond, OK/Sports Management
Foster: Dallas, TX/Human Development and Family Sciences
Why did you become an Earn Your Wings director?
Knox: I loved Earn Your Wings. It was such a great time to meet other people and helped me to feel welcome at Oklahoma Christian. I want the exact experience for every single freshman. I truly want them to have a week where they come in, get comfortable and see all the things we love about it before school starts.
Zavarce: My Earn Your Wings experience was amazing. Personally, I saw myself grow, personality-wise and who I wanted to be around. I saw how the upperclassmen cared about me when I came here, and I want to do the same for these freshmen when they come here scared or nervous about starting college. We were in the same shoes they are in just a couple years back.
Foster: I was in the back of the auditorium at the end of closing ceremonies during my freshman Earn Your Wings. I remember thinking, “This was the best week ever.” I could not have been more excited to be at OC. I was so unbelievably nervous coming here because I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t know a single person, so I was very vulnerable and scared. After this week, I was so excited and ready to take on OC and become friends with as many people as I could. I knew I wanted to be a director at closing ceremonies freshmen year, so it has been a dream of mine for a long time
What makes Earn Your Wings important to you?
Knox: Definitely for me, the people. The upperclassmen want to get to know the freshmen and the freshmen want to get to know each other. It’s all about getting to know others. Yes, I go here for school, but more importantly, I go here because this is where my best friends are.
Zavarce: It’s getting comfortable being at OC, being around a bunch of people you don’t know. The upperclassmen are part of it too. [Freshmen] are nervous, so seeing how upperclassmen are wanting to get to know you is good. In high school, you think upperclassmen hate you, so coming from high school, [freshmen] think “Oh, these upperclassmen don’t want to talk to me.” At OC, there is a community.
Foster: I think it gives a week for all the freshmen to be really valued and know they are important to the upperclassmen, faculty and staff and the Freshmen Experience team. It lets them know they have a place here and I just want everyone to feel so accepted.
What roles have you played in previous Earn Your Wings and how did they prepare you to become a director?
Foster: I was a Hub leader twice. Being a Hub leader, you really get to see what is going on in the freshmen’s minds, such as what they are feeling and what they are nervous about. I think that is really going to help us, as directors, realize how we can help them not be scared, nervous or apprehensive starting off college.
Zavarce: I was also a two-time Hub leader. The last two years, I have been that person who my Hublings want to come ask questions about campus or what’s going on in Earn Your Wings. I know what to expect and what questions they ask. I know some better responses I can give to them.
Knox: I was a Hub leader my sophomore year and then I got to be an assistant director. It was super fun. I love getting to be with the freshmen and those interactions. It’s super fun to plan stuff and then seeing the stuff that I planned play out and the freshmen getting to enjoy that.
Will there be changes to this year’s Earn Your Wings?
Knox: Oh, will there!
Foster: Nobody will be separated from the Hub, which is so unique. [All staff members] are going to be with a Hub group, but they’re going to have different jobs. Total, there are going to be five staff members to approximately 15 students. There will be two Hub advisors, who will reach out to students who are not coming to events, taking attendance at Hub times and keeping up with points for their Hub group. We’ll have two Hub parents, who are in charge of facilitating conversation, asking questions and staying on topic during Hub time. The last is Hub coordinator. They are in charge of planning events and setting up or tearing down events. This way, everyone gets the opportunity to be with the freshmen.
Knox: This way, every upperclassmen gets a one-on-one connection with freshmen.
Zavarce: With a 5:15 ratio, there’s a better chance for a freshman to connect with at least one upperclassman.
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