By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Last month, eighty-six outstanding Oklahoma mentors were honored during the seventh annual Oklahoma Mentor Day, presented at Oklahoma State University by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and its David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative.
“The goal of Oklahoma Mentor Day is to recognize outstanding mentors from all types of youth mentoring organizations around the state and to provide fun, educational activities for the honorees and their mentees to share,” said Beverly Woodrome, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative.
“Mentor Day also celebrates the important role that mentors play in helping mentees achieve better academic, social and economic futures. Oklahoma mentors are truly changing lives,” Woodrome added.
This year’s event, themed, “Mentors See the Brightest Futures,” included a recognition ceremony attended by nearly 400 people and mentor-mentee activities hosted by OSU academic departments.
This was the third year Oklahoma Mentor Day was held at a university. This gives mentors and mentees an opportunity to visit a college campus and participate in educational activities presented by faculty and students.
Optional afternoon tours were offered at OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences; Applied Neuromuscular and Physiology Laboratory; and the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology’s Endeavor Lab.
“The kids had a marvelous time,” said Kenneth Stallworth, founder and mentor for Lawton Central Middle School’s Young Men in Action. “I really liked that OSU showcased the different departments and majors and had interactive stations, which the kids really enjoyed.”
Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences and dean of OSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, spoke at the event and helped present awards to each of the honorees.
Growing up in a working-class family in Coweta, Shrum attended Connors State College on a basketball scholarship. She credits a college mentor for recognizing her gift for science and encouraging her to go to medical school.
“I didn’t know I had what it took to become a doctor, a dean of a medical school and the president of an academic center,” Shrum said. “Extraordinary achievements like those were unimaginable for an ordinary young woman from Coweta. … I wouldn’t be here today and wouldn’t be who I am without the many mentors who pushed me forward and encouraged me to aspire to be something greater.”
The Mentor Day honorees were encouraged by Shrum to share their success stories with others to help the public understand the true impact of mentoring.
“Mentoring matters,” Shrum said. “It matters to the mentees, to you and to the future of our state. … Behind every successful person there is a mentor.”
Eugenia Galan, a University of Oklahoma petroleum engineering student, attended Oklahoma Mentor Day with her mentor JoAnn Meyer. Meyers, a Houston oil and gas consultant, mentors for OU’s Jerry Holmes Leadership Program for Engineers and Scientists.
“JoAnn has been incredibly supportive throughout my undergraduate career. Her advice and support are invaluable to me and to all the other students she has impacted – especially the ladies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics),” Galan said.
Galan noted that it was humbling to see honored mentors walking alongside mentees from different walks of life – from broken families, incarcerated individuals, first-generation college students, and more – at Oklahoma Mentor Day.
The Boren Mentoring Initiative is named for Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence founder and chairman David Boren and his wife, Molly. The initiative grew out the Borens’ own commitment to mentoring and the proven impact that mentoring can have on a student’s success in and out of the classroom.
The program was launched in 2006 to promote the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs statewide.
Oklahoma Mentor Day was made possible by support from Google Inc., Kirkpatrick Foundation Inc., the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Oklahoma State University.
Of the 86 outstanding Oklahoma mentors, selected by their respective mentoring organizations, mentors honored in the Oklahoma City area were:
Jamie Adamson, a manager for IT Field Production Services; Michael Cramer, a forensic analyst; and Jane Lam, a senior application system analyst, have been named outstanding mentors for Chesapeake Energy Mentoring Program, a program that matches employees with students at Horace Mann Elementary School.
Cherryl “Cherry” Barnett, an AmeriCorps Program Enhancement coordinator, has been named the outstanding mentor for Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe South Oklahoma City.
Sharon Boone, a book keeper, has been named the outstanding mentor for Whiz Kids Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.
David Boyd, outstanding mentor for Positive Tomorrows of Oklahoma City, is a retired major for the fire investigation office of the Oklahoma City Fire Department.
Bryon Dickens has been selected as the outstanding mentor for Students Connecting with Mentors for Success. Dickens is the program’s founder and director.
Rachel Giles, a graphic designer, has been named the outstanding mentor for Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County.
Elizabeth Herman, a sergeant for the Oklahoma City Police Department, and Darren Ransley, director of strategic communications for Funk Companies in Oklahoma City, have been named the outstanding mentors for Camp HOPE America, Oklahoma Palomar, a program of the Oklahoma City Family Justice Center.
Marvin Lyle, a manager at Hertz Corp., is the outstanding mentor for Junior Achievement of Oklahoma.
Abi Ruth Martin, a freelance photographer, is the outstanding mentor for The Mentoring Project of Oklahoma City.
Luquetta McClarty, a licensed professional counselor, has been named the outstanding mentor for The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM), an Oklahoma City nonprofit that helps clients break cycles of incarceration and poverty.
Joseph Nguyen, a senior triple majoring in computer science, mechanical and aerospace engineering at Oklahoma State University, has been named the outstanding mentor for Inspiring Successful Engineers, a program of the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.
Lonnie Nichols, an asset manager, is the outstanding mentor for Y Achievers, a program of YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.
Angie Olson is the outstanding mentor for the SeeWorth Foundation, at the Justice Alma Wilson SeeWorth Academy in Oklahoma City.
Becky Rickard, a recently retired community relations manager, was honored as the outstanding mentor for Sonic’s Tutor Tots Program.
Community volunteers Susan Sampson and Cathy Shockley have been named the outstanding mentors for Britton Christian Church Learning Center of Oklahoma City. Sampson runs a successful seamstress and design business. Shockley, a retiree, is kitchen coordinator for the youth programs at the church.
For the complete list of honored mentors, visit www.okmentorday.org. For more information about the Boren Mentoring Initiative, visit www.okmentors.org or contact Beverly Woodrome, program director, at 405-590-4063.