Determined to find solutions for the challenges communities face throughout the country, 12 inspirational students from Oklahoma’s colleges and universities were recognized as 2018 Newman Civic Fellows during the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education meeting Thursday.
Matthew Staples, Connors State College; Raegan Mach, Northern Oklahoma College; Riley Pearce, Northwestern Oklahoma State University; Turner Smith, Oklahoma Christian University; Katie Hardin, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology; Quinn McCormick, Rogers State University; Alexis Harris, Rose State College; Tiler Rose, Southwestern Oklahoma State University; Matthew McClure, University of Oklahoma; Joseph Mason , Tulsa Community College, Kalen Russell, University of Central Oklahoma; and Sabine Brown, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, are among 268 students from 40 states, Washington, D.C., Mexico and Greece, who comprise this year’s Newman Civic Fellows.
The Newman Civic Fellows program was established by Campus Compact in honor of co-founder Frank Newman, who dedicated his life to creating opportunities for student civic learning and engagement. The award is designed to recognize college students who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for the challenges faced by communities across the nation through service, research and advocacy. Each of Oklahoma’s fellows will receive a $500 scholarship from Oklahoma Campus Compact. Students are nominated by their college or university president.
“These students’ civic leadership is an excellent example of the positive impact that can be made by oneperson,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “The State Regents commend these student leaders as they complete their higher education and continue to positively impact our state and the world.”
Staples is a second-year agriculture communications major at Connors. He has held numerous leadership roles in FFA at the local, district and state levels in high school. At Connors, he has been active in student organizations, including serving in a leadership role for the Agriculture Ambassadors Food Drive, which collected about 1,700 food items. Additionally, as a College Student Adult Leader in his church, he has been able to serve with high school and middle school students by collecting daily living household items in backpacks for the homeless in Warner.
Mach, an international studies major at NOC, has worked as many as four jobs at one time to fund her study abroad travels as she seeks to learn more about the global environment and her role in it. She volunteers with numerous community service projects that help the disadvantaged, including sustaining arts education through a scholarship fundraiser for rural communities with limited budgets; delivering meals to those unable to prepare meals for themselves; and serving as an ambassador for the college.
Pearce, a senior at NWOSU, is pursuing a career in social sciences with a focus on political science. In May, she will complete her second internship at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Her many volunteer activities include Feed the Children, Back-A-Youth, Food for Thought and March of Dimes. Riley plans to practice family law after graduation from law school. Her interests include researching and participating in governmental protection of freedoms and rights for those who cannot fight for themselves, such as the use of illegal substances by pregnant women and its effect on the children born with substances in their systems.
Smith is a history and pre-law major at OCU with an interest in social change, particularly cases of police brutality, racism and institutionalized injustice. Smith is involved in leading efforts to create a Mock Trial program at OCU to raise awareness of institutionalized legal discrimination due to race and class, and to encourage students from privileged segments of society to promote social justice within the judicial system.
Hardin is a pre-business major at OSUIT. She has volunteered more than 750 hours through OSUIT’s Service Learning program and the Oklahoma Blood Bank. She also has assisted high school students in raising money so that they can attend scholarship pageants.
McCormick is a sophomore communications major at RSU. She is a member of the President’s Leadership Class and was named PLC Freshman of the Year in recognition of her diligence and commitment to community service and campus involvement. She is involved in numerous volunteer projects, including service to the homeless community in the Tulsa area through Night Light, and has advanced political participation and civic engagement by helping to register hundreds of students to vote and engage in meaningful political discussions.
Harris, a second-year student at Rose State, is pursuing a degree in mass communications. A student leader who is passionate about supporting minority youth in her community, Harris started a chapter of the Women of Purpose organization on the Rose State campus. She also works to contribute to issues directly related to poverty and empowerment of others.
Rose is pursuing a double major in engineering technology and computer science at SWOSU and is committed to involving more women in the STEM fields. Through volunteering and active participation on the Society of Women Engineers and the First Tech Challenge High School Robotics Competition, she has provided opportunities for younger women to build interest in a career in a male-dominated field.
Mason is an environment science major at TCC. He is working to improve communities through the growth and distribution of food. In a recent service-learning opportunity course, he helped to establish a campus food pantry for students and continues his involvement with the project to ensure that access to adequate food isn’t a barrier to student success. He also has taken on the volunteer role of garden coordinator at the Tipton Community Garden, where he teachers local residents how to grow their own produce. Sensitive to issues of social justice, he is working on a plan that will provide pay-as-you-can produce at a local farmer’s market.
Russell is a strategic communications major at UCO, where she is actively engaged in civic activities and service to her community through multiple avenues and projects. Working as an event strategist for uSpeak, a campaign seeking to reduce extremist action through dialogue and understanding, she has encouraged dialogue and policy examination among police services, civil rights professionals and students on campus. She also has engaged in significant research projects focusing on black students’ experiences with campus law enforcement and how strong relationships can be better developed.
McClure is a first-year master of regional and city planning candidate at OU. McClure’s commitment to social change and building equitable communities is represented through his work in Africa, where he helped establish safe and reliable water and power for a village in Uganda, as well as his ongoing commitment to promoting healthy, local, sustainable food options for local residents. He is currently working on a research project to explore the availability of healthy food options among schools in Oklahoma City in order to develop public policy solutions for improving community food access, food awareness and empowering future generations to support local and urban production. In the near future, he plans to begin a project to formulate a food system plan for the city of Oklahoma City as a means for improving fresh food access for residents, but in particular, vulnerable and low-income populations.
Brown is a first-year master of public affairs student at OU-Tulsa and is involved in community and civic engagement on her campus. In her second semester on campus she was selected to serve as Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a non-partisan, Tulsa-based research and policy think tank promoting equal opportunity for Oklahomans. In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, she started an Oklahoma chapter and serves as the state chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. In addition to gun violence prevention, Brown also serves as an active volunteer with the Bixby Parent Legislative Active Committee, which advocates for better state funding for public education, as well as the Bixby Outreach Center, which serves underprivileged people in her community.