Students may know Dr. Karen Youmans, honors program director, as the lady in glass office, but she does much more than stare through transparent walls.
This week, Youmans revealed her passions regarding the honors program, family, music, and Star Wars.
Q: Well, we might as well start off big. What’s are the three most defining moments of your life?
A: The birth of my son, the first time a senior scholar commented on my work at a conference (I felt like a true professional), and my study abroad experience in London
Q: How did you get to OCU?
A: I’m originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but I applied for honors director position here. It was especially appealing because of the renewed commitment the school promised to make to the program. It also gave me the chance to develop a program while still teaching. And I like Oklahoma City.
Q: What are your long-term goals, career or otherwise?
A: At this point, I’m about in the middle of my career, and I feel that I have stepped into my ultimate calling, more or less. I want to focus on this job and figuring out how to make the honors program reach its potential at OCU
Q: What does the honors program need to reach that potential?
A: I want to create a cohesive honors experience, focused on bringing different energies and ideas together. Like every place on campus, we could use more resources – development in study abroad programs, global engagement, faculty development opportunities, and more team-taught courses. We already have the most important thing, though: fantastic students and faculty. I want to do everything possible to facilitate the energies and goals they have.
Q: What are the best and worst parts of your job?
A: Can I use the same answer for both? Advisements. I absolutely love helping a student figure out vocational goals and intellectual interests, while scheduling particulars at the same time. When it works together it’s great, but I have to schedule appointments with 70 students in two weeks. It’s hard to work with everyone’s schedule. Other than that, though, I don’t know if there is a worst part.
Q: What is the best part of your new office?
A: It gives us plenty of space, and it’s in a central location. The Goldstar building has historical value, so it helps us think about learning as a tradition, combining the best of the past with the hope of the future. Now, students need to come make it their own!
Q: What are you passionate about besides the honors program?
A: It seems cliché at this university, but I love musical theatre. I used to sing and dance in college, but now, I’m just in church choir. When I went to Louisiana State University, they had a songfest. It was musical mashup, like in Pitch Perfect. I co-chaired that one year.
Q: Tell me a little about your son.
A: He is an eighth grader at Casady School, where my husband teaches religion (My husband is also an assistant chaplain). My son loves basketball, volleyball, and drama, and was recently cast in Our Town at the high school, where the drama teacher graduated from OCU with a theater degree.
Q: If you had to sing one song on the voice, what would you sing, and which judge would you want to turn around?
A: “All that Jazz” and Gwen Stefani
Q: What is the best Halloween costume you’ve ever seen?
A: I have number of costumes that I cycle through, but my favorite is Princess Leia.
Q: What advice do you have for students at OCU?
A: Remember that your education is about more than the grades you’re making. There is something deep to learn in every class if you commit yourself to it. Take risks in your class work.