Determined to find solutions for the challenges communities face throughout the country, 11 inspirational students from Oklahoma’s colleges and universities were recognized as 2019 Newman Civic Fellows during the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education meeting Thursday.
Brooklyn Herriman, Connors State College; Alisha Fletcher, Northeastern State University; Grant Dick, Northern Oklahoma College, Enid; Jacqueline K. Ruhl, Northwestern Oklahoma State University; Hadley LaMascus, Oklahoma Christian University; Autumn Fourkiller, Rogers State University; Amanda Pierce, Rose State College; Kamuela Ahuna, Southwestern Oklahoma State University; Ke’Juan Morris , Tulsa Community College; Hunter Caudillo, University of Central Oklahoma; and Carson Ball, University of Oklahoma, are among 262 students from 39 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.
“The State Regents commend these students for their civic leadership and important work in their communities,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “We wish them continued success as they complete their higher education and pursue additional civic engagement endeavors to positively impact our state and the world.”
Herriman is a sophomore at Connors. She is president of the Student Government Association, serves as an Agriculture Ambassador and is a member of the President’s Leadership Class. Under her leadership, SGA began an initiative to connect students with the local community. She helped implement a Thanksgiving meal for the less fortunate in the small, rural town of Warner, feeding more than 150 people, and led a group of students to serve meals at a local homeless shelter. During the holidays, she helped the Agriculture Ambassadors with a food drive to replenish the shelves of local food pantries. Additionally, she led the SGA to host community movie night for local families to enjoy a free movie and refreshments on campus.
Fletcher, a May 2018 political science graduate of NSU, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in American studies. She is passionate about creating positive change through collaboration and community building. She has held many leadership roles and served as an intern for the City of Tahlequah, where she contributed to work on the city’s comprehensive plan to build community by leading a concentrated effort to include the voices of students in the planning for the city’s future. She also has worked on various political campaigns to ensure that candidates are accurately representing their constituents.
Dick, a sophomore biological sciences major at NOC, Enid, is president of the President’s Leadership Council, where he oversees every campus event and project to completion while promoting scholarship and service within the community. He works to help local high school students and nontraditional students attend and excel in higher education. He also started a club for NOC students to experience the outdoors and learn the value of conservation while maintaining high ethical standards.
Ruhl is a senior at NWOSU, majoring in political science. She is a nontraditional student with 13 children from a blended family, and nine of the children live at home. Because she was underprepared for college classes, she was required to take several remedial courses and only earned three credit hours her first semester. Her ultimate goal is to attend law school to become a family law attorney. She engages in volunteer activities connected with her church and children, including serving meals at the church and preparing food bags for the Stamp Out Hunger organization.
LaMascus is a third-year student at OC, where he is a student leader committed to research connecting pollution with human health. His research illuminates how airborne particles affect health and indicts communities that fail to consider the ways in which community health is fostered or hampered by their actions. He served as president of the honors student governance organization and has influenced a number of his pre-med and health care peers to volunteer with him at a local free clinic, Manos Juntas.
Fourkiller is a senior at RSU, majoring in public affairs/political science. She considers voting a duty and a privilege and has spent most of her volunteer hours committed to helping others register to vote, including serving on Rock the Vote committees. She has served as president of the Student Government Association and was the Election Commission chair and a member of the Oklahoma Campus Compact Campus Vote Advisory Committee. She held an internship at the Cherokee County Election Board during summer 2018 and plans to pursue a master’s degree.
Pierce is an active member of the RSC community through her engagement with campus events and personal achievement and is an advocate for children and community. She often takes a leadership role while participating in campus service learning and volunteer activities, usually undertaking the more difficult tasks.
Ahuna has been an active participant in many community and campus-based activities at SWOSU and is committed to providing a pathway to the STEM fields for rural students. He is involved in the SWOSU Computer Club, a computer science camp for area high school students, and serves as a mentor and role model to fellow students. He provides information about accessibility to higher education and to STEM fields of study and is a volunteer at the First Tech Challenge Robotics competition. He also is a member of the SWOSU Marching Band and the President’s Leadership Class, and is active in many civic engagement events, including fighting childhood hunger through the Backpack for Kids program at a local elementary school.
Morris has been instrumental in raising awareness about inequalities through photojournalism both off campus and at TCC, documenting the Tulsa Pride Parade, Tulsa’s March for Our Lives and several elections in the Tulsa area. He also works with city council members, city planners, local residents and colleagues to collaborate on strategies for change in north Tulsa to help bridge the gap of health and income disparities. Focusing on green urban planning, his long-term goals include planning for more environmentally friendly parks, implementing a zero waste initiative, developing greener and more extensive public transportation, and establishing incentives to attract socially responsible developers.
Caudillo first became involved in serving the community through a mission trip to Africa as a teenager. She currently is involved in community engagement activities hosted through UCO’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center. For the last three years, she has taken leadership roles in her sorority and in UCO’s Big Event student organization. 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.
Ball is a sophomore at OU, majoring in political science and Native American studies with a concentration in tribal governance and policy. Last summer he served as an Indian Affairs intern for U.S. Sen. James Lankford. Ball is a Carl Albert Center Civic Engagement Fellow, and in that capacity, helped coordinate an unprecedented voter registration drive on OU’s campus and partnered with RISE to Vote in a nonpartisan effort to register professional and college athletes to vote, as well as with the Oklahoma City Thunder to register the players, staff and fans. He has served as a democracy coach for Generation Citizen, working to educate high school students about how to participate and engage in democracy. He also is the co-founder and chair of the Miracle Mindset Empowerment Leadership Summit that serves high school freshmen with the purpose of eliminating the achievement gap and disparity of educational resources, information and opportunities among at-risk youth from low-income backgrounds.