Forward Together - Episode 24 | Iris Okere: Shocker Up

Episode 24 May 07, 2024 00:17:51
Forward Together - Episode 24 | Iris Okere: Shocker Up
Forward Together
Forward Together - Episode 24 | Iris Okere: Shocker Up

May 07 2024 | 00:17:51

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Show Notes

Join President Rick Muma in a conversation with outgoing Student Government Association President Iris Okere. Iris is graduating on May 11, 2024, with a degree in marketing and minors in management and Spanish. Iris will discuss her experiences as a Shocker and future plans. The “Forward Together” podcast celebrates the vision and mission of Wichita State University. In each episode, President Rick Muma will talk with guests from throughout Shocker Nation to highlight the people and priorities that guide WSU on its road to becoming an essential educational, cultural, and economic driver for Kansas and the greater good.
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:11] Speaker A: Hello and welcome to the Forward Together podcast. My guest today is Iris O'Keery, student body president of Wichita State University. Iris is a senior majoring in marketing and minoring in management and spanish. She came to WSU from Dallas, Texas, and she'll be graduating this spring. [00:00:27] Speaker B: Hi, Iris. Welcome to the podcast. So good to see you today, and I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say about your time as SGA or student body president. You're not just the SGA president. I always have to remind myself of that and just to learn more about you and what got you here. So tell me, when you decided to go to college, I'm assuming you were looking at various different colleges and universities. What made you come to Wichita State, and what are some of the things that really interest you about the university? [00:01:00] Speaker C: Well, thank you for having me on the podcast. This is a dream. So when it came down to where I wanted to go to college, I was in avid, which is the advanced via individual determination, college readiness kind of organization. [00:01:15] Speaker D: During my time, you could start at like the 7th grade and then go all the way up until high school. I started in the 7th grade, and then I was an avid kid, avid club president. Like, I was very much so. Lived, breathe, and ate avid. [00:01:29] Speaker C: A lot of the things that you do in Avid are like tutorials and. [00:01:32] Speaker D: Things, but also it's the college readiness portion of it. So my senior, my junior year, Shandra. [00:01:42] Speaker C: Krill came to Wichita's in admissions. She came to my avid class, and. [00:01:46] Speaker D: She talked about Wichita State. Her first question was, did. [00:01:50] Speaker C: Does anyone know where Wichita State University is? [00:01:53] Speaker D: And I rose my hand so high. [00:01:54] Speaker C: And I said, wichita Falls, Texas? [00:01:57] Speaker D: She was like, no. She talked about the I 35 corridor. So, like, the shocker discount that we have. And she said, basically, because we all. [00:02:08] Speaker C: Preside at Richardson High School, we would all qualify for it. [00:02:13] Speaker D: So I took that into consideration, and I was like, it's an out of state school. [00:02:18] Speaker C: When it came down to colleges for. [00:02:19] Speaker D: Me, I wanted to be outside of Texas for the simple fact, that's all. [00:02:24] Speaker C: I knew, and I wanted to grow as a person. So when I chose to go out. [00:02:29] Speaker D: Of state, Arkansas was on the table. [00:02:32] Speaker C: Wichita state ku were on the table. [00:02:35] Speaker D: And so I made my mom do. [00:02:37] Speaker C: A little tour with me. We came to a WSU day, and. [00:02:41] Speaker D: I absolutely hated Wichita, like state. I just. [00:02:43] Speaker C: It was the weather, it was March. [00:02:45] Speaker D: It was cold, it was ugly outside. And I was just like, no, but because, like, we had come, I obviously was like, mom, of course I'm going to apply to the school, and it was my first acceptance. As soon as I was accepted, I. [00:02:59] Speaker C: Qualified for DSi and a Barton school of business agh scholarship. [00:03:03] Speaker D: So I came up that fall to compete. I ended up winning some great scholarships, and now I'm here. [00:03:12] Speaker B: So you never really thought you'd end up in Wichita, Kansas? Not Wichita Falls, Texas? [00:03:17] Speaker D: No. Yeah, I never really thought I would have ended up there. [00:03:20] Speaker B: A lot of people think that, you know, I grew up in Texas. I've told you that before. And when people think about Wichita, they think about in Texas, you know, because people in Texas just think about Texas and not thinking beyond that, they think of Wichita Falls. So did you ever think that you'd be here as a student body president? [00:03:39] Speaker D: Absolutely not. You know, in my time at Wichita State, I worked in the finance and administration office with vice president goaling, and I had no idea his former executive. [00:03:56] Speaker C: Assistant, Fifi, knew before I did. [00:03:59] Speaker D: Within, like, meeting me in moments, she was like, you're gonna be something here at Wichita State. You're gonna be the student body president. Like, I can see it in your stores. And I was like, maybe. And then when I came and told her, she was like, I told you I knew. [00:04:13] Speaker B: Well, you and I meet quite a bit as student body president, and I meet with you, and Sophie Martins is as the vice president for the student government association. Tell us a little bit more about what your goals were when you ran for office and have you accomplished those goals? Are there some things that you still want to do? Because the session ends in a month or so, right? So you're going to go on to graduate and do great things, but what about what's happened so far and what still do you have to do? [00:04:46] Speaker D: So, obviously, when I stepped into this role, I was sure that Tracy Ellis Ross would be the commencement speaker. That was my goal. But, I mean, it could happen. [00:04:57] Speaker C: Tracy, if you're listening. [00:04:59] Speaker D: No, but in all seriousness, when we. [00:05:02] Speaker C: Stepped into this role, like, we ran. [00:05:04] Speaker D: On our five point civic engagement, retention, diversity, accountability and transparency. And that was just something that we wanted to push forward in our entire administration, whether that was with the engagement of students in the student body. We started a. The executive cabinet started a monthly raffle where we are engaging with students not only in person, but also on social media. Social media is a weapon that we decided that needed to be used. Throughout my campaigning, in my debates, I talked really poorly about the SDA website because it's old, it's really outdated, and so it's under construction now. And if you go look at it now. It says it's under construction. But it was something that I was like, the perception of the student government needs to change. We have the ability, we have the following to change that. Let's do it. So I've kind of instilled that in my entire cabinet, as well as the ICT cross campus coalition. That was something that had come in. [00:06:09] Speaker C: Previous sessions, but it never fully got thrown and through. [00:06:13] Speaker D: That's where we collaborate with Newman and friends in the Wichita area and kind of talk about, like, issues that are. [00:06:19] Speaker C: Happening in higher Ed and how we. [00:06:21] Speaker D: Can, like, bring our governments together, even though we're not all necessarily governments, but just come together as students in Wichita to come up with issues that we're facing in the Wichita area and then potentially take them to the state. Another huge thing is, Kor was a. [00:06:41] Speaker C: Challenge for me in the sense of. [00:06:43] Speaker D: I didn't really know what I was expecting or going into. No one kind of really prepares you for it. And so being able to navigate that and being able to work with all the other presidents was really, really, really a great goal and objective that I saw through. [00:06:59] Speaker B: Yeah, well, one of the things I think that's taken you a long way is that what I see in you all the time is you're very positive. You have upbeat personality, just like us sitting here talking. I can see it, and I know people see that. The first time I remember you for the first time was I was down in Houston. It was during COVID and we were doing admissions. Admissions event. Yeah. Down at the museum in downtown Houston with Bobby Gandu and his team. And you were up here in Wichita, and you were on Zoom during that time talking about what it was like to be a student from Texas in Wichita. And I think that really sold a lot of people on it. And I can see your upbeat nature and the positivity that you bring even through Zoom, it was very evident. So that's always, I think, an important aspect for people to have that, particularly ones that have aspirations to do great things for people and have opportunities to move forward and elevate your life and others. So I really appreciate that about you. Just wanted to make sure you knew that when I first remember Iris. Okay. I see some things in Iris that she might be coming through and have opportunity to be around her more and see her leadership. [00:08:28] Speaker D: Do you remember what I said to those Houston parents? [00:08:33] Speaker B: Remind me. [00:08:34] Speaker C: I said, yeah, and there's this weird thing called a scraper that they use. They get all four seasons, but I. [00:08:41] Speaker D: Don'T know anything about it. It scrapes off your car, and that's the only thing I know about it. [00:08:46] Speaker B: Yeah, see, that's the thing about living in Texas. You know, I grew up in Houston, grew up in Dallas area. You don't have coats, gloves, snow scrapers, ice scrapers. [00:08:58] Speaker D: They don't prepare for that. [00:08:59] Speaker B: We don't have that here. All right, so you're graduating in May. What are some of the most memorable experiences you've had during your time here at Wichita State? [00:09:12] Speaker C: Definitely meeting Wale. That was cool. [00:09:15] Speaker B: Tell us more about that. [00:09:16] Speaker D: So, Sac, about two years ago, it was my sophomore year, they put on. [00:09:22] Speaker C: A concert at Cocarina, and it was with the artist Wale. He came and did a whole performance at Cocorina. [00:09:30] Speaker D: And then, like, we got to be. [00:09:33] Speaker C: Like, the staff to work the event. [00:09:35] Speaker D: And at the end, we got a meet and greet. And I literally was on Wale's instagram story. [00:09:41] Speaker C: So that was really cool. I love going to basketball games. [00:09:47] Speaker D: The experience that you feel when you're in at a shocker's men's game, of. [00:09:53] Speaker C: All the black and yellow, that's something. [00:09:57] Speaker D: That I will always cherish for Wichita State Higher Education day. That was a couple weeks ago. Being recognized for the student body president at the state level and being able to talk to senators and representatives at. [00:10:10] Speaker C: The state of Kansas level was really nice. [00:10:12] Speaker B: You got a proclamation? [00:10:14] Speaker D: I did. I did get a proclamation. [00:10:15] Speaker B: It has your name in it, right? [00:10:17] Speaker C: That's my name. [00:10:18] Speaker B: So that's pretty special. [00:10:19] Speaker D: That's real. [00:10:20] Speaker B: Like, that's tangible, but that on the wall. [00:10:22] Speaker C: Yes. [00:10:23] Speaker D: Like, later in life, when I'm in. [00:10:24] Speaker C: My big office doing something nice, becoming a member of my sorority, I'm a. [00:10:30] Speaker D: Member of Aka Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Incorporated. That was a huge moment in my life, becoming the student body president. Like, I think back, and I'm like. [00:10:40] Speaker C: Freshman year, me being in COVID, I would have never assumed I would have. [00:10:46] Speaker D: Been the student body president as a freshman, especially being someone from Texas at that. Like, how am I out here advocating. [00:10:53] Speaker C: For Kansas, being from a totally different. [00:10:58] Speaker D: State and people instilling and trusting that I can do that? Yeah, it's huge. [00:11:03] Speaker B: You spoke about the higher education day, which is when students from all the universities and probably community colleges were there or have another day, too, that they participate in. But they're up at the Capitol. All the legislators, governor, know that students are there that day, so they spend time going around. And then the presidents from the universities go over there and see their students. And, of course, we had the best booth. [00:11:32] Speaker D: We always do. [00:11:32] Speaker B: Yeah, we always do. But one of the things I appreciate about you is how you're able to engage with people that you don't know. Maybe some of these. The whole legislator kind of Persona is a little bit intimidating, but you don't let that stop you. And you're able to just carry on normal conversations with these individuals and let them know what our priorities are as an institution or what your priorities are as a student body president. That was great and got a lot of positive feedback that day about what you were doing. And, of course, the board of regents were over there, too, and saw all that. So it was a really great day and felt really proud to see you and your team, your cabinet, members of your cabinet there, advocating for students, but also Wichita State. So hats off to you for that. So, one last thing. What are your plans after graduation? What are you thinking at this point? [00:12:33] Speaker D: You know, I do need a job, so currently I am in the. I'm looking for positions in the marketing field. [00:12:42] Speaker C: Entry level marketing is kind of hard. [00:12:44] Speaker D: To get into currently, but I'm. [00:12:47] Speaker B: Now, remind us, your major. We should have said that earlier. [00:12:50] Speaker C: Yes, I'm majoring in marketing and minor. [00:12:52] Speaker D: I have two minors in management in Spanish. Barton School of Business. I love that place. I Woolsey hall. Hats down. Like, that's the best thing. I like to tell people. I pay for the electricity bill with my tuition, but I'm currently looking for positions entry level. I want to take a year to. [00:13:11] Speaker C: Myself after all of the things that. [00:13:13] Speaker D: I've done at Wichita State, hopefully back in Texas, and then in fall gap year. [00:13:18] Speaker B: Is that what you're calling? [00:13:19] Speaker C: Kind of ish. [00:13:20] Speaker D: And then fall of 25, I want to start law school. I would like to not be in the midwest. I would like to be in the south, preferably Texas, because I would like to get the. [00:13:29] Speaker C: Do the bar there and get licensed there. [00:13:31] Speaker D: But I'm hopeful for anything that comes my way. [00:13:35] Speaker B: What's drawn you towards that? [00:13:38] Speaker D: Because I want to settle eventually in. [00:13:41] Speaker B: Well, no, I mean, what's drawn you towards the field of law? [00:13:44] Speaker C: Oh, I actually really enjoy the politics. [00:13:48] Speaker D: Of it all, although I have a marketing mind, and it was up until probably last spring when I realized, like, marketing is something like, a lot of. [00:13:59] Speaker C: People change their majors when they come to college, and I haven't. [00:14:02] Speaker D: I was like, I'm just. [00:14:03] Speaker B: You're one of the few who hasn't. [00:14:04] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:14:05] Speaker D: I was like, I'm just gonna stick to it. But it was up until last spring when I realized, like, marketing is actually. [00:14:11] Speaker C: Like, I have a love for it. [00:14:12] Speaker D: Like, the consumer of it to the actual product of it. Like, I actually enjoy it. [00:14:20] Speaker C: So I'm looking forward to looking into. [00:14:26] Speaker D: Something that's going to be of that field. Corporate law is what I want to do. Really? Patent for real? Because I think that trademarks would be great. [00:14:36] Speaker C: End goal is to have my own. [00:14:38] Speaker D: Firm and then help small businesses out that need their licenses, their trademarks, et cetera, to be, like, their one own LLC entity. [00:14:50] Speaker B: That sounds like a perfectly good plan. Going forward, I'm assuming you've been working with some of our trademarks and marketing people here on campus, and Rob Gerlach is the individual who does that. Shelly Coleman Martins, our vp for strategic communications, is involved in that as well. Well, good. One last question. It's not something that you were told before. I always like to throw this in at the end. So, any advice for me as president on what you'd like to see? Possibly different, or just. I'm even open to whatever you're thinking about. [00:15:35] Speaker C: Okay. [00:15:36] Speaker B: I know that's throwing you off a little bit, but you have to be able to speak on your feet if you're gonna be an attorney. [00:15:43] Speaker C: Heck, yeah. I think that this, like, I get to see you regularly. [00:15:50] Speaker D: I get to make jokes, crack jokes, and I can see you as a person. I mean, I'll even be like, I'll. [00:15:56] Speaker C: Come over to your house. [00:15:57] Speaker D: Like, things like that. [00:15:59] Speaker B: You'll park in my parking spot? [00:16:00] Speaker D: Yeah, I'll park in your parking spot. I'll let the people at K VR know. I think it's more of that personable, like, relationship. I understand you can't do that with all 17,000 students or all faculty and staff members, but, like, the ability to just crack a joke here and there, I think that that's something that not a lot of people get to see, and I'm happy I get to. [00:16:22] Speaker B: Yeah, well, it's who I am, and, yeah, unfortunately, I can't do that with all of our students just because it's not possible. But I like to be able to do things like this and be in sort of a relaxed environment to hear about what is energizing students, what's turning them on, and so. So, yeah. Appreciate that feedback. So, it's good to see you, Iris. I'm going to see you a lot more before you graduate this May, and I'm definitely going to see you as you graduate and walk across that stage without having to be the university marshal or a university marshal. You're going to actually be a participant in the commencement ceremony. Looking forward to that. [00:17:05] Speaker D: I'm thinking a raise the roof moment, I'm thinking. [00:17:08] Speaker B: Yeah. Thanks for stopping by the podcast. [00:17:11] Speaker C: Thank you. [00:17:12] Speaker B: Good to see you. [00:17:14] Speaker A: And thank you all for listening. And be sure to rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen to the forward Together podcast. Go shockers. [00:17:31] Speaker E: Sponsorship for the Forward Together podcast is provided by Scott Rice office Works and the shocker store. Additional thanks to Nair Amp, WSU, carpentry shop and gocreate.

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