Leaving Texas Behind: A Bold Move to Wichita
By Emily Younger Barnwell
There are 92 four-year colleges and universities in the state of Texas, according to collegesimply.com. With dozens of educational institutions to choose from, one might wonder why Dallas native and Wichita State University (WSU) student Iris Okere dared to venture beyond the Lone Star State.
“I wanted to challenge myself,” explained Okere.
That challenge led Okere to the heart of the heartland – Wichita, Kansas.
The senior marketing student made the five-hour move north in August 2020, citing Wichita’s affordability and the university’s robust scholarship programs as deciding factors.
“Wichita State offers a Shocker City Partnership that grants resident tuition rates to students from specific metropolitan areas along the I-35 corridor making the cost of attending Wichita State significantly less than out-of-state tuition,” Okere highlighted.
But the cost isn’t why Okere stayed in Wichita. From the moment she stepped foot on campus, she immersed herself in the community, taking on a multitude of leadership roles.
The 21-year-old currently serves as WSU’s student body president, the vice president of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and as a resident assistant on campus.
“No matter where you come from (small or big city), Wichita will be a culture shock to you, but you make the experience what you want. I would’ve never thought as a freshman moving from Texas, that I would be the student body president. It starts with stepping out of your comfort zone and trusting yourself,” Okere emphasized.
Okere’s trusty taste buds have not led her astray either. In her three years in Wichita, she’s successfully navigated Wichita’s diverse foodie scene. Her favorites?
Beyond the culinary vibrancy, there’s one Wichita element that continues to amaze Okere – the weather.
“The idea of getting all four seasons in a day is CRAZY! I think it was the first snow of my freshman year and people were using these things called scrappers to get the snow and ice off their cars and I was amazed,” she laughed.