EDMOND — The University of Central Oklahoma has some new faces on its campus this summer, and they don’t belong to UCO students.
For the first time, the university has opened its residence hall doors to interns working in the metro area.
The housing expenses are paid in full by the interns’ employers.
“We’re college students, so we don’t have a lot of money,” said Tanner Bowen, 19, an Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation intern from Weleetka.
The interns stay at the University Commons apartments on campus.
“It’s a lot better than I expected,” Bowen said. “I was expecting a dorm room.”
The apartments are fully furnished, have a kitchen, washers and dryers, free WiFi and cable.
“We thought that it would be a good way for us to build some relationships with local companies and at the same time maybe attract some students from out of state that maybe hadn’t seen our campus in the past,” said Jose Rodriguez, UCO sales and marketing coordinator.
They’ve had a better-than-expected turnout.
“When we first started talking about what we thought would be a good target number this summer, we were thinking about 15 to 20 residents,” Rodriguez said.
There are about 63 nonstudent residents.
Bowen enjoys the social aspect.
“When I’m at work, I’m in my own lab and don’t really get to interact with the other interns,” Bowen said. “It’s been really nice to really get to know the other Fleming scholars and hang out with them.”
The five OMRF interns staying at the residence halls carpool to save money. Their only expenses are gas and food.
The money brought in from the program is used toward upkeep and maintenance of the residence halls.
“It’s something that the students, when they come back, get to enjoy,” Rodriguez said.
Weleetka is more than an hour away from OMRF. Bowen would have had to stay with his sister, who lives in Oklahoma City, if UCO’s residence halls weren’t an option.
“I didn’t really want to sleep on my sister’s couch for eight weeks,” Bowen said.
Planning to attend Oklahoma Christian University this fall, Bowen said this experience has helped him prepare.
“It’s been nice to get to know the town before I start in the fall,” he said.
Not just for interns
About 15 teachers from Spain coming to work in the Oklahoma City Public Schools will come to the UCO campus later this week.
The teachers were hired for two-year contracts by district administrators who traveled to Spain to interview them after the state Education Department and Spain signed a memorandum of understanding to bring guest teachers to Oklahoma in September.
The bilingual teachers will teach subjects in English, but will be able to communicate with Spanish-speaking students.
“We want them to feel like there’s someone there to help them,” said Deivi Santizo, bilingual communications coordinator for the district.
The teachers will stay at UCO until Aug. 1.
A couple of companies already have shown interest in utilizing UCO’s facilities next summer.