Like many freshmen, Oklahoma State University graduate Corina Hernandez took a few semesters to cement her chosen major of Human Development and Family Science in the College of Human Sciences. But then, while looking for electives to fill out her schedule, she enrolled in an intro to communication disorders course in CAS’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

“I loved everything about it,” said Hernandez, who hails from Elk City, Oklahoma. “And once I got my feet wet in [CDIS], it was straight ahead from there. I was so engaged in every lecture. I remember telling people how easy it was to go to class because everything was so interesting.”

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Jacee McCoy of Katy, Texas, wasn’t sure what she wanted to major in when she came to Oklahoma State University. Despite being unsure of the exact pathway that she would take to reach her goals, McCoy knew that OSU would give her the opportunities she needed to succeed.

“I knew I wanted to major in a science field but wasn’t sure exactly what science that was going to be. I just knew that I love school and wanted to continue my education somewhere I thought would allow me to grow and flourish. OSU allowed me to do that,” she said.

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In November 2018, OSU art history graduate and Stanford Ph.D. candidate Lora Webb moved to Rome to study Byzantine art and manuscripts for two years. But when COVID-19 began to rapidly spread through the country in February and March of this year, Webb had to make a decision: stay put or come back to the U.S. She ultimately decided to remain in Italy.

“It's a pandemic, so it's not like you can outrun it,” Webb said. “It seems like the best way to get out of a pandemic is to just stay in place. That's all you can do. Otherwise, you're going to be in it longer. You're going to run straight into it.”

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While Oklahoma and most of America has been in some form of lockdown over the past two months, Italy implemented one of the strictest versions in the world and did it earlier than most nations. That country has now begun easing restrictions, but we spoke with OSU art history alumna Lora Webb when they were still in place. She is in Italy working toward a Ph.D. from Stanford. Lora published a letter in the Oklahoman urging her home state to shut down to save lives, just as Italy did. We spoke about that, how her experience compares to what we are seeing in Oklahoma, and why her research area makes some people uncomfortable.

William Colt Chandler wanted to be a police officer as a child. Now he is using his education from Oklahoma State University – at both the Oklahoma City and Stillwater campuses – and his experience from the OSU Police Department to help others on a day-to-day basis and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a young kid, I fell into one of the categories of a typical male of wanting to be either a firefighter or a police officer,” said Chandler, now a captain with the OSUPD. “It kind of stuck with me in my teenage years. And then my oldest brother became a police officer.”

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Many graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences are on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. One example is Dr. Corby Smithton, a biology and zoology graduate who went on to earn his medical degree from the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. His wife, Colbi, is another CAS and OSU med graduate. They are both providers at Stillwater Family Care, where they are seeing patients who have, or think they have, COVID-19. Corby Smithton joined us to talk about what that experience is like, what he expects to see as we continue to face this pandemic, and why CAS graduates are key to pulling us out of this situation.

With the closure of campus mid-semester, OSU’s classrooms and concert halls alike have been unusually quiet. But in late April, the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts got a welcome visitor: Dustin Boatright, a music education major in the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music, came to record a three-song set for CAS Spring Commencement with the help of his voice professor, Steve Sanders.

“It was just us in the building,” Boatright said. “We set up the stage, had a little podium there, I threw on a cap and gown and we recorded three songs: the national anthem, ‘Oklahoma!’ and the alma mater.”

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Ten-year-old Annagrace Lewis sat in the backyard inspecting each flower. She gazed at the shape, inhaled the smell and most importantly, considered the color. The color is what she needed. She picked the perfect color and ran back inside. Her mom took the little flower and taught Lewis to crush it, add water and witch hazel, and then brush her small cheeks with a little color.

“Those were the first moments I realized a plant could be so much more than just a plant,” Lewis said.

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