College students are less likely to go out and vote despite wanting political change


Students vote because some see it as their civic duty, and some see it as a way to make their voices heard in a state that might not always reflect their ideals. In the current political climate, students do not always try to make their voices heard, despite wanting change.

Over 2 million people were registered to vote in the state of Oklahoma. Lauren Schueler, the director of the N.E.W. (National Education for Women’s) leadership and civic education, which educates women to participate in politics, said 76 percent of University of Oklahoma students were registered to vote in the 2016 elections. Of those students, 64 percent actually voted.

Schueler has been working with the Carl Albert Center at OU since 2015. In that time, she said she has seen a shift in engagement. She said this past midterm had the largest youth turnout in decades.

In the last midterm, the national youth vote was 31 percent, going up from the 2014 midterms that had a rate of 21 percent. Schueler said that voting rates for the OU campus are taken from the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement from Tufts University.

In the 2014 midterms, the voting rate at OU was 16 percent. While the Carl Albert Center does not have the data from the 2018 midterms, she said she hopes that percentage will jump drastically.

Voter turnout during the 2016 election was low compared to the previous elections up to 1996. In the 2016 elections, 55.4 percent of people voted and only 46 percent were people ages 18 to 24.

OU has many on-campus resources to encourage voting among its students. The Carl Albert Center has many resources to make the voting process simpler.

The Carl Albert Center has resources for students and faculty to look up their legislators, as well as the state questions, how to complete an absentee ballot, how to check your current voting status and important dates and times the help tables are going to be set up in Bizzell Library or in the Oklahoma Memorial Union.

There are student organizations for all different kinds of political parties. The two main organizations are the College Republicans and the College Democrats.

Wesley Forbes, the president of the College Democrats, voted in the 2016 election. However, this was not his first time to vote.

Forbes has voted in a mix of presidential and minor elections since he turned 18. He still votes at the age of 23.

“I see it as a civic responsibility,” Forbes said. “I’m a part of a society that requires the opinions of all the citizens so I need to give my opinion and if I don’t give my voice it’s going to be ignored.”

Forbes said he believes that people, particularly college students, are voting more in general. He said most issues that are in the foreground relate to student issues and he thinks that more issues that pertain to students will get more students to vote.

Voting ID laws and a lack of same-day registration has made voting harder for students, Forbes said. However, he said that he thinks it has become more worthwhile to go through the voting process.

When there was a push to legalize medical marijuana, many people went to vote because they wanted to change the legislature. Many people do not vote until it is something that matters to them, Forbes said.

Forbes said that he encourages his friends to go out and vote. Since Forbes is in the political science department, his professors also push students to vote.

While there are many outside forces that could make someone vote, Forbes said that he would have voted regardless of any outside pressure.

The challenge Forbes faced when he voted for the first time in 2014 was that he was registered to vote in his hometown. He had to drive 50 miles outside of Tulsa to vote and barely made it in time. Things are less complicated for him now, as he is re-registered in Norman.

While many students might change their political views once they go to college, Forbes said he had always been pretty liberal. However, he said that he is now more informed.

Forbes knows plenty of people whose views took a more liberal stance once they went to college, however, he said that he does not know anyone who changed their platform from liberal to conservative.

On the other half of the two main political party groups is the College Republicans. Logan Schoonover, the president of the College Republicans, voted in the midterm election this past November. She had to fill out an absentee ballot from Colorado.

Unlike Forbes, Schoonover did not get to vote in the 2016 elections because of her age. She did not have to go back to her state to vote in the midterms. Instead, she researched online and figured out how to fill out her absentee ballot, which she said made things easier.

Like Forbes, Schoonover believes that more college students are voting. She thinks that more media attention and celebrity endorsement has helped bring more people out to vote.

However, Schoonover thinks there are things keeping students away from voting. One such thing is the polarization between parties that she has noticed.

Schoonover said that a lot of people vote because they don’t like what they are seeing and she feels that it is her civic duty to vote.

“I feel like it’s kind of my way to voice the things that I feel,” Schoonover said. “When you go to the polls you’re showing what you believe in.”

Schoonover said that there are a lot of resources at OU that help get people ready to vote. Beyond the resources offered by the Carl Albert Center, the university offers students free rides to the polls for those who do not have means of transportation.

Schoonover has always had a strong interest in politics. She said that she thought conservative voices in Denver were not heard.

Like many students, she said her mindset changed when she started to do more adult things in college, such as the income taxes she will soon have to pay.  She is concerned about the lack of jobs for students after graduation.

The College Republicans have approximately 30 people at meetings, 110 people on the GroupMe, and many students outside of those numbers who go to campaigning events to volunteer their time. Seeing this participation encourages Schoonover to vote.

Another encouragement Schoonover said she has is that her family is a military family. She said that people in the military died for others to get the right to vote.

Professors influence students by expressing their usually liberal ideas, Schoonover said. Likewise, the media and their parents influence their students to vote. Schoonover said that most people will vote similar to their parents.

Schoonover said she thinks there are a lot of people not thinking for themselves because of professor’s influence. She said she thinks they are entitled to their beliefs, but she does not think they should push the ideas onto their students when people are in vulnerable situation.

“People are trying to find their identities on campus and like figure out who they are,” Schoonover said. “So they shouldn’t have a professor that they’re trying to learn from cloud their judgment with that.”

Dr. Keith Gaddie, who is the President’s Associates Presidential professor of political science, said that he had always tried to go out and vote.

Gaddie believes that if you come from a family of voters, then you will be more likely to vote. He said he experienced this by being in a family of politically active people.

His own kids are registered to vote. He votes because he believes it is his civic duty and that it is important to have input on the process.

The first time Gaddie voted was in the 1984 presidential primary in his hometown of Fisherville, Kentucky. He said voting in the midterms this November was easier than voting in the ‘80s because of the ease of access and resources to help people vote.

Gaddie said that families of a higher socioeconomic status are more likely to vote than those of low socioeconomic status. Likewise, white and African American people are more likely to vote. People who have been to college are more likely to vote than those who did not receive a college education.

To make voting easier, Gaddie thinks that there should be a total opt-in when you turn 18. This way, you are automatically registered to vote and now can choose to vote or not without the worry of being registered.

There are some forces that try to keep people away, though most voter suppression comes from the right, Gaddie said. However, Gaddie said that the law tries to keep this from happening.

Motivation to vote Democrat is usually caused by dissatisfaction with the Trump administration. About 70 percent of 18-24 year old voters went all Democrat in the past election, Gaddie said.

Gaddie said that people might not vote because they are not registered. However, approximately 70 percent of eligible voters are registered and actively vote in elections, Gaddie said.

Something that could keep people from voting is that they think their vote will not matter. A large number of voters could make someone think their voice will not be heard and therefore their party will lose.

In the electorate, young voters have a low turnout. However, the midterm elections had a higher rate of voting than it had before. Even so, many students still do not vote.

Voting has changed over the years, but one thing still stands-students do not always vote. Whether changes need to be made or not is something many discuss while trying to persuade more to go vote.


Story behind the story: Anna Bauman

Story behind the story: Anna Bauman

Lauren Owen

There are many prominent names within civil rights history. Some however, often go unnoticed. One such person is Clara Luper. Anna Bauman, a reporter at the OU Daily, wrote a story about Luper and her legacy.

The story opens with a reenactment of the event Luper is known for-a sit-in to fight for equal rights. The reenactment is done in a class for the African and African American studies department.

J.D. Baker, who knew Luper, is one of the students who helped reenact the event. While this was just a reenactment, the stories told are still relevant today.

At the beginning of this semester, Bauman pitched this idea while brainstorming with other OU Daily members about longer pieces. The story came about when the African and African American studies department was elevated to department and then named after Luper this past March.

Before she began the project, Bauman had not heard of Luper. During an interview for the three-part story about influential black women of OU, Dean Stanley Evans of the OU law school revealed he was a part of the sit-in Luper organized.

The subject of that interview was then changed to Luper. Evans told her what it was like to participate in that sit-in, which added another voice to the story.

The project, which took approximately 3 months of switching between daily journalism and interviewing for the Luper story, took a lot of interviewing and research to make. Bauman read the autobiography of Luper to help prepare.

“Their stories are just really interesting and they interested me for sure so I was doing the research and looking into them.” Bauman said.

The idea of having a 3-part story about influential women at OU began after Bauman read a special called “Overlooked” by the New York Times where they wrote obituaries of influential people. This was a special because, beforehand, the only people who got an obituary written by the Times were white men.

Just as the Times aimed to recognize a more diverse group of people, so does the Daily. Bauman said the “Overlooked” series inspired her to reach out to people Luper knew and share her story.

“It was really inspiring to read about and see how strong and courageous and brave that these women were.” Bauman said.

The challenges she faced while writing this story is that she was unable to get in contact with Luper’s daughter. However, she was able to get other interviews with other people that knew Luper.

While the story was not as timely as it could have been, Bauman said that she wanted to make sure she got the project done before she graduated.

“These people can be recognized at any time of the year.” Bauman said.

Bauman has been working at the Daily for three years since she was a sophomore. She was originally an engineering major, but decided to switch to English because of her enjoyment of writing and other liberal arts.

In high school, Bauman was on a part of the school paper. She also did internships at the Oklahoman and Omaha World-Herald.

This coming spring, she said she is participating in the Gaylord in D.C. program to report on the Oklahoma legislature. She said she is not sure what she will do after college.

“It’s a scary thought, but it will be okay.” Bauman said.

The advice Bauman said she would give to future aspiring journalists is that they need to always be curious about the world around them. She also said that reading the news and interacting with ideas they had never considered before would help as well.

The biggest piece of advice she gave was to get hands-on experience. Her advice for OU students in particular is to work at a place like the Daily, due to the hands-on nature of the journalism profession.

To make a great story, Bauman said that the stories need to engage not only the audience, but the writer as well. She said that if they are passionate about the subject, better stories will be told.


Amid political change, the Gender and Equality Center is trying to keep things the same


The small office of the Gender and Equality Center is almost hidden within the lunch-time chaos of the Oklahoma Memorial Union. The GEC, which was without a director until November, has faculty, interns, and students that work to bring inclusion to the University of Oklahoma.

On Oct. 21, The New York Times revealed the Trump administration is considering defining gender as being based on the biology of a person. While there have been no changes so far, many members of the LGBTQ community are protesting to try and keep this change from happening.

At the beginning of November, Erin Simpson was named the new director and OU advocate coordinator of the GEC. According to the GEC Instagram, Simson has served the GEC as an OU advocate for the past 12 years. In those 12 years, she has also gained experience in residence life at OU.

The mission of the GEC, according to the OU website, is “To foster social justice by advocating for the rights of women and LGBTQ students, empowering those without a voice, and challenging inequality.”

Although the GEC is staying out of the political side of the situation, much is being done by the faculty and interns to make sure students know the office doors are always open. Students can have people to talk to, to voice concerns to and have resources to help ease their fears.

Crissy Young, the office manager and assistant to the director in the GEC, said there are many LGBTQ support groups on and off campus that are there to listen to any concerns students may have. Young said it is important that students have someone to talk to.

“They aren’t alone in their struggles and there are people that understand,” Young said.

Eli Sullivan, who is the case manager and in charge of OU Advocates at the GEC, said they try to make students feel safe and included. She said when the news of the possibility of a change in the definition of gender came out, she had a concern for her students. She said she wanted to make sure that they know that they matter.

Within the last year, the GEC office has been affected because it works with minorities and victims of trauma. Sullivan said she first and foremost wants students to know that they are heard, supported and believed.

Sullivan said the administration knows the GEC is necessary for students. She said the GEC wants to help students feel valued and be able to succeed on campus and in the future.

The mission statement of the GEC says that it challenges the injustices of society. Sullivan said that they are there for those who feel like they do not have a voice.

Tayana Ghosh, a master’s candidate in architecture and the residential mentor for the fifth floor of Headington Residential College, is a LGBTQ ally through the GEC. Last summer, Ghosh went through LGBTQ Ally training.

During the training, Ghosh said she learned about LGBTQ experiences through role-playing situations and hearing guest speakers from both people from OU and off campus. She said the training was similar to the mandatory online training students do, except that it LGBT Ally training is in person.

Ghosh said that she also was taught the definitions of terms used within the LGBTQ community. She said she thinks it is important that the GEC teaches people these terms because, as someone not in the LGBTQ community, she does not have the same life experiences.

Before Ghosh became an ally, she said she had friends who were LGBTQ. She said she always imagined their life was the same as hers, but now knows that is not the case.

Ghosh said that students have come out to her throughout her time as an residential mentor. She said that she thinks that if she had not had the training, she would have responded to them differently.

“It was really life-changing,” Ghosh said.

Ghosh said that the GEC has expanded and become more inclusive since her freshman year. She said she thinks it is important to have this training to be an residential mentor because residential mentors interact with students with different backgrounds.

Ghosh said that she tries to push students out into the community to interact with people similar to them. She said she gives out any resources students need.

Young said that the GEC relies on input from students for things like campaigns, pink and black ball planning, and other events. They also rely on input on how to address issues within OU.

Young said amid recent changes that the GEC is trying to keep everything consistent on campus by staying out in the public and staying approachable to students.

“We wanted to make sure that people knew that even though we were searching for a director, that the GEC was still there for them.”

Between this past June and November, the GEC did not have a director. Both Young and Sullivan said the leadership role was being filled by all the faculty of the GEC, as well as the interns and other students.

Kristen Partridge, the interim for Student Affairs and associate dean of students, has taken over the role while the GEC was without a director. Partridge, who took over for Clarke Stroud, has many jobs at OU.

Sullivan said the GEC made a search committee for a new director. She said they want to make sure more voices are heard and that everyone had had different experiences with the director.

There were three rounds of interviews to make sure they could find the best candidate. The third round of interviews included faculty and students.

Sullivan said the challenges the GEC faced before November when it was without a director are that they did not have a direct supervisor. She said that Partridge is often busy, making the GEC rely on other workers.

The interns of the GEC help support the full-time staff through events, said Sullivan. They help organize and put on events for the GEC. The LGBTQ Advisory Board, peer educators, and student volunteers also help put on events.

Beth Nondorf, who is a fifth-year math and computer science senior, is a member of the LGBTQ Program Advisory Board. She has also gone through ally training.

As a member of the LGBTQ Program Advisory Board, Nondorf holds office hours every week and lets people come to her for concerns about the LGBTQ lounge in the Oklahoma Memorial Union. In the past, Nondorf said there were issues in with inclusivity and intersectionality.

Nondorf said that they are trying to organize social events, but have gotten busy and not all of the events have worked out. She said she has gotten help from Jordan Weaver, the program coordinator and advisor, who is also in charge of the LGBTQ programs. She said he took over the initiative for Fahl.

“It’s been nice to have to know there’s a place I can go if I needed that help.” Nondorf said.

Nondorf said that being apart of the GEC has helped her get more involved in the LGBTQ community.

Sullivan said that the GEC, before Simpson was hired, was missing the core person to fill the mentor role that a director has. She said that the last director, Kathy Fahl, was a mentor who helped supervise, guide and develop staff and students.

Sullivan said that Fahl knew the positions and knew what was needed to be done. Fahl had been the director for 11 years before her departure. Fahl is now the assistant dean of students at Ohio University. She said that, without a director and new staff members, the office has had more time to bond.

“We’ve really bonded as an office.” Sullivan said.


Profile: Dr. David Anderson is the second senior fellow of Dunham

By Lauren Owen

Books line the many shelves of Dr. David Anderson’s office. More books are on his desks and on another table. Down the hall is where Anderson’s wife, Abby, son, and unborn child live in a part of Dunham’s living space. While he has not been working as a senior fellow at Dunham College for very long, the office is well-lived in.

Just a few weeks before move-in in August, Anderson took the place of senior fellow from his predecessor, Dr. Mark Morvant. Morvant now works at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas as the associate vice president of academic administration.

“I’m kind of haunted by the need to make a difference,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he is haunted because he was given this opportunity by OU that not everyone would have had. He said that he cannot take that for granted. However, he said that this is a healthy pressure to him.

Anderson has worked at the University of Oklahoma for 10 years. He started as a professor in the English department living in Cate. Now, however, he lives with his family in Dunham College as a senior fellow. He still teaches 16th and 17th century literature for the English department, but he is also a senior fellow, a husband and a father.

“There are a lot of people who would love to do what I do for a living, but can only do it as a little bit of a hobby,” Anderson said.

Anderson said his jobs as a professor and a senior fellow are related. He believes in teaching and studying literature, and said he wanted to be a senior fellow to bring meaningful education to students who he believed wanted more from their education outside of a classroom. He also said that he believed that taking literature seriously will make you a serious person.

“Books are not magical. They can’t solve all our problems, but if we take them seriously and if we really learn to gather around them, they can give us more than mere credentials,” said Anderson.

His favorite books are “King Lear” by Shakespeare, “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen and “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens.

Anderson said that his favorite part of being a senior fellow is having one-on-one conversations with students, alongside the high table dinners.

“It’s about making ideas fresh and exciting for undergraduates. That’s exciting,” Anderson said.

When he has time off, he said he likes to do things such as throwing a football around in the Dunham courtyard. He said he also likes eating with people and likes the buzz of the cafeteria. Golf, cooking and reading are his other favorite pastimes.

He also spends time with his wife, who is currently staying home for her pregnancy, and their 21 month old son. She has worked for the last two years in south Oklahoma City to start Saint Paul’s community school, which is a school for low income families.

Anderson said that it is fun, rare and exciting to have Samuel growing up in Dunham. He said that Samuel is usually brought out to the courtyard to play. He said that he has a desire to have his kids look at him as a person with principle.

Anderson said that he also enjoys spending time with his friends and making dinner for them. His favorite meals to cook are French cuisine, homemade pizza, grilling, mixing cocktails, Italian cuisine and Indian food. He said that he knew Morvant because they were in the same group of friends.

Morvant said that he knew Anderson back when Anderson was the faculty in residence in the Honors College in Cate. When it was time for Anderson to take Morvant’s place, the two met and talked about Morvant’s vision for Dunham.

Morvant said that he would have loved to stay longer at Dunham. However, he wanted to take the opportunity to live closer to his parents. He said he wanted his kids to get to know their grandparents and so living in Texas made that easier.

Morvant said that there were some things he would have loved to have expanded on from what they did the first year. He said he also would have liked to have made more connections with students if he had chosen to stay longer.

Dr. Ronald “Keith” Gaddie and Morvant worked on the residential colleges early on to discuss the architecture to make the building a community for the residents. Morvant said that they worked with Residential Life and Student Affairs to build a model that put academics and student and residential experiences into one.

Morvant said that he worked closely with Mr. Dunham to build the crest and motto. The current traditions of Dunham were based off the motto “Integrity, perseverance, wisdom.” Morvant also said he liked to help set up activities for local schools at Dunham.

Morvant said that Residential College director Yolande Graham and assistant senior fellow Zac Stevens helped give each floor its own identity and crest. He said he also helped design the Thanksgiving dinner at Dunham, as well as putting up the Christmas tree. He said that for some it was their first time putting up a tree. Since international students cannot go back home for the holidays, Morvant made Dunham welcoming for the holidays.

Stevens said that Anderson wants to explore the humanities and great books. Stevens said that Anderson has been keeping many things the same as they were when Morvant was in charge.

“When he talks about that vision of wanting to gather around these books and conversations I think the students are like ‘yeah I can get behind that.’” Stevens said.

A new feature that Stevens said Anderson has brought to Dunham is what he calls the high table dinners. Stevens said that these dinners are to gather around and talk about the big ideas and the big questions of life.

Anderson said that he thinks he could not have been the first senior fellow of Dunham. He said that Dunham needed Morvant because of the need to be able to deal with the architects and donors that were making the college possible.  Anderson said that he is not trying to change much about the college and is instead letting the other workers take the lead.

“Mark had a very student focused attitude it was all about the students for him. What he told me when I took the job was his piece of advice for me he said ‘When all else fails, just love on the students,’” Anderson said.

Stevens said that he thinks that Anderson has been happy to let things continue as they were and not coming in to change everything.

“I think he appreciates what’s already here and is looking to whatever changes do happen to happen primarily because of a difference in maybe what our target is rather than how we do things and anything like that,” Stevens said.

Anderson said that he has a long term goal of making a difference in Dunham. He said that he wants to impress upon the students that Dunham is a community of learners.

Graham said she thinks that he has a desire to see students be successful and grow. She said that she thinks Anderson wants the students to engage beyond the things they normally do so be on social media engaging in real depth of conversation and learning together.

Graham said that she thinks he takes a genuine interest in what her role is in the community and the work she is doing with students. She said that she thinks students who have talked with him have learned a lot from him and opened their minds to new ideas.

Anderson said that budget cutting season is close and that he does not know how the cuts will affect Dunham.

“That aspect is something I’m prepared to do,” Anderson said. “I didn’t sign up for that but at the same time if you’re going to be a leader, you don’t have the right to look the other way and let someone else deal with that.”

Anderson said he has not been as involved as he would like to be because his wife is in her ninth month of her pregnancy. He said that when they lived in Cate, they felt they didn’t know many of the students who lived there. Now that they live in Dunham with their 21 month old son Samuel, who Anderson said is like the mascot of Dunham, they get more students participating in events.

Graham said that Anderson is driven. She said that it is challenging coming into a community like Dunham where there are certain traditions that have already been set and Anderson coming in the middle of that meant he was learning as he went. She said that he is making an effort to engage and be connected with students.

Emily Marcum, who is the vice president of community and traditions of the Dunham College Council, said that he helps with the community based events. 

At first, Marcum said she was not sure if she would connect with Anderson because she is a science major. However, she said that she knows him better now.

“Now that he’s here, he’s just so fun.” Marcum said.

Q&A: Sierra Sizemore ‘New York is where I will be one day’

            Sierra Sizemore said she has dreamed of living in New York for a long time. She went to fashion school in New York. Her dreams had come true, but she quickly found out that her dream needed to be put on pause.

            Sizemore left New York and went on some adventures to find out who she was. She said that her unique experiences brought her here to the University of Oklahoma. However, her dreams of making art in New York is something she still is reaching for.

LO: You said you’ve gone on many seeking yourself adventures when you realized maybe this dream needs a pause on it. What was it like going on all these adventures like what was something unique that happened?

SS: At first it was like I was trying to escape. It was more of me trying to escape my reality. So it was just like trying to figure out what I really wanted in life because for the longest time it was fashion school and I didn’t really have a plan after that. I was like ‘I’m going to go to fashion school. I’m gonna live in New York City. I’m going to fulfill my dream.’ and then when that didn’t happen, I just felt really defeated. So I went on all these trips and then I kind of found all my adventurous spirit through that. So I had been to New York when I was 18 and that was my first big trip. From then, I knew I wanted to see more. I had been out of Oklahoma, but it was to Disney World when I was 10 and didn’t remember a lot of it. So I wanted to see more.

I just kind of had a thirst for that and I had a lot of cool experiences like when I went to Chicago…that’s the craziest story I have like I don’t do a lot of stuff like that often but yeah when I spent the night in Wrigleyville at a Santa-themed bar crawl and it didn’t end the best. When we were leaving the bar crawl, our phones had died and we didn’t have a portable charger. So we were trying to find a Walgreens to find a cord to charge our phones when we went into this sandwich shop and my friend was intoxicated to say the least and she kept walking around and said ‘I will pay you a $100 if you order us an Uber. Nobody would order us an Uber, but this girl that was working there she was 16 she got her three friends to come and pick us up which wasn’t the greatest decision. My friend would not walk back to the subway she’d say ‘it’s too cold I’m not walking back to the subway,’ so she got in the car with these three random strangers-obviously I’m not gonna let her in the car alone-so I went with her. On the way home, they tried to sell us weed and fortunately we got home safe. It was a very interesting situation. That’s probably the most interesting thing that’s happened to me to date, though.

LO: So do you think after that event it brought about that adventurous spirit? Like almost an exhilaration from that?

SS: Yeah I think that was like an adrenaline rush from that trip. At the same time it made me more cautious. So I was more aware of my surroundings and especially everything that’s going on in society. Things are crazy so it kind of brings things…puts things in a perspective. I think just looking on Pinterest…and seeing all these pictures of vacations it gives me vacation ideas. It shows all these cool things you can do and all these cool abandoned places you can go to. It’s kind of…everyday it’s a reminder of that. I wish i could go on more trips but unfortunately I’m poor [laughs] and can’t afford to go. But hopefully in the future I’ll go on more.

LO: You said this trip made you more cautious. Has that stopped the adventure?

SS: Not at all, actually! I think being more cautious means I’m looking more at my surroundings more and paying more attention to what other people are doing around me. I don’t live in fear of what other people are going to do I think you just kind of have to forget about that and just live like no one else is around you.

LO: Have you found other adventures here at OU?

SS: I think after taking that year off of school I got too much in my comfort zone because I had gone back home so I was stuck in that space-in that headspace-and so when I came back here it was really hard to get out of it again. So coming back here it’s really hard to do that again so I haven’t branched out much. Which is weird for me because I’ve always been kind of like the fearless kid I’ve just done whatever. But like anxiety, and everything like social anxiety and depression and everything has kind of kicked it up a notch since I got back to Norman. I think I just got stuck in a routine and I haven’t really created an adventure out of that yet.

LO: How do you think your life would be different if you didn’t go to New York?

SS: I wouldn’t have a tattoo of New York, that’s for sure [laughs]. I got this after I went to New York for the first time. If I didn’t go to New York I don’t think I’d have as much purpose. New York has so many opportunities. I think if I didn’t have that inspiration I would just be kind of stuck-I’d be in limbo. A small town Oklahoma girl with no purpose. I feel like a lot of people are like that until they find that inspiration and New York is that inspiration for me. Like that’s what I’m working towards.

LO: How do you think you got to that point to find out that that was your purpose?

SS:  Literally on my 13th birthday I was looking on Pinterest-it was before my 13th birthday-I was looking at cake ideas and I saw one that was like New York City themed and that was how I got obsessed with New York City. Since then, I just looked at pictures of New York City. I paid attention to movies that were based in New York City. It was like this is where I want to live every day. It was just that daily reminder just because it’s such a vast area for opportunity and so every movie is filmed in New York City.

So it’s like every time I see a movie that has new York city I literally say out loud ‘that’s my city’ and I get so excited and I don’t know how that came to be. It’s just one day it clicked and I was like that’s what I want to do because before that, my dad kind of projected his dreams on me. I went through a country phase when I was in middle school. I painted my room red and brown-the ugliest colors-literally I don’t know what I was thinking. I got all these western decor and I got western shirts and I got my first pair of cowgirl boots. Then literally a year later it was like a 360 and I said I’m gonna be a city girl that’s who I am that’s my identity and I stuck with that ever since.

LO: So what would you say is your identity now?

SS: I’m a city girl through and through [laughs].

LO: So no change?

SS: Not at all. I’m very adventurous and I don’t like to get stuck in a routine I feel like it’s hard to do that in New York City. But it’s also really easy to be adventurous because there’s something different around every corner.

LO: If you could go back in time and see your eighteen year old or even middle school self, what would you tell them?

SS: Work harder in school so your dreams will come true sooner. Because I didn’t work hard in high school. Just try harder because it’s really hard now, looking back. Knowing I didn’t put that effort in, knowing I didn’t care enough and I’m paying for it.