October 21, 2008
Traveling almost 4,000 miles, Oklahoma Baptist University junior Melissa Krauss embraced the move from Wasilla, Alaska, to the Shawnee campus, knowing it would be a new experience. One of two OBU students from Alaska, Krauss also shares her hometown with Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
"I was excited to leave Alaska to go to school," Krauss said. "But it was hard not knowing anyone at all."
Krauss decided to attend OBU after seeing an advertisement for the university in a Christian Music Magazine.
"God just confirmed time and time again that this is where I needed to be," she said.
Krauss flew from Alaska to Oklahoma when she began her time on Bison Hill, noting it was hard to get all of her personal belongings into three suitcases. But exchanging her northern home for America's heartland did not prove difficult for the Alaska native. While she reminisces about favorite past times at home that include hiking and kayak sledding, she also notes, "in Alaska, we pretty much do the same things we do here."
Looking toward the impending national elections - and the focus recently placed on her hometown - Krauss is a strong supporter of Palin, even though she has never met the Alaskan native candidate personally.
"Everyone is somehow connected to her," Krauss said, noting connections common in small towns across America. "My best friend's neighbor coached her in basketball."
"I was so excited to hear she was a candidate, most people in Alaska absolutely love her," Krauss said. "She has done a lot of good for our state, and I think she could potentially do a lot for our country."
Krauss works to make a difference today - she serves as a resident assistant in Kerr Dormitory, co-chair for Mission Center and teaches AWANA at Calvary Baptist Church in Shawnee - and hopes to one day make a difference in her home state, too. Studying elementary education at OBU, she plans to move back to Alaska to teach.
"I think it would be cool to teach in Eskimo villages in the boonies of Alaska," Krauss said. "Alaska has a huge need for teachers."