This year I will yield my space in Oracle so we can publish a tribute to all the awards our tremendous student media organization has won. This has been a landmark year for journalists at Oral Roberts University in other ways as well.
Our students from several classes were instrumental in researching and reporting on the case of Tondalao Hall, a woman who had been incarcerated for 15 years of a 30-year sentence handed her under an Oklahoma law called “failure to protect.” The man who actually harmed the child never served time in prison. ORU journalism students worked on the case for over a year and produced a short film documentary— “On Oklahoma Time” in 2019. The film was given to prisoner advocate Rhonda Bear, who used the powerful story to convince Kevin Stitt, the Governor of Oklahoma, to broker the release of Ms. Hall right before Christmas last year. After Hall was released, national media outlets such as Washington Post and New York Times picked up the story.
ORU students continue working on other cases of injustice in the legislative and judicial system, particularly those that reflect gender-bias toward women defendants. Senior students are presently working on a film documentary “The Isaiah 51 Project: The Real Story of Darlie Routier.” The research on this case has been a four-year project, which has resulted in the students solving and providing proof that a Texas death row inmate is innocent. Appeal proceedings are in process. Two other cases are being worked at the present; the sum of the cases are the core of a future Supreme Court cause.
ORU journalists have constantly been ahead of (and better than) mainstream media in their reporting across the board on all kinds of topics, including the environment, Covid-19, other health concerns, abortion, human trafficking and immigration. Profile feature stories and multimedia pieces have also won regional and national awards. Former graduates are working in high profile positions throughout the world.
This year we graduate an exceptional team, who are headed out to places like Washington D.C., New York City, London, Atlanta and Chicago for either jobs in the profession or grad school at prestigious universities like Georgetown and Columbia.
I’ve had several goodbye phone calls this week from students whom I’ve taught their entire time at ORU. They are the best of the best and I am excited to see their trajectory and future work. They are world-changers and whole leaders for sure!
I bid farewell to the following amazing students – I so look forward to seeing your names on major media bylines, credit rolls and book covers. I will miss you Lauren Brewington, Ashley Beal, Rejoice Christisking (Joice King), Staci McCoy, Pauline Yoo, Alejandro Contreras, and Callie Cotner. You will always have a place in my heart.