Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

May 2015

OSU-Tulsa Mentor Program Making a Difference for Academy Central Students

Academy Central students work togetheron a project.

Dayonshay Commander, left, and Priscilla Rodriguez learn about team building by working together to design an outfit they would like to model during Fashion Week using only newspapers, scissors and tape.

Melanie McClain and Jerry Moore are making a difference in the lives of about 30 sixth-graders at Academy Central Elementary through a mentoring program
launched by Oklahoma State University-Tulsa.

McClain and Moore, both program specialists at OSU-Tulsa, volunteer each week with groups of students at the school to lead round-table discussions on team building, leadership, social skills, fears, friendship and setting goals.

“The very first day I met with the sixth-grade girls, I introduced myself and explained why I wanted to mentor them,” said McClain. “I shared my story about being a non-traditional student who received a college degree later in life and encouraged them to think about how education can help shape their lives or their futures.”

McClain said sixth grade is a crucial time to help students realize that college is a reachable goal before Academy Central students move to middle school next year. Since the program started, McClain and Moore have seen the students become more self-confident and display more self-control.

“Every time I meet with these young men, we always start off by saying ‘I will respect myself. I will respect others. I will do my best. I will succeed.

I shall succeed. I must succeed,’” said Moore. “These young men now say it with a loud voice because they are starting to believe it.’”

The mentor program was launched as part of community outreach efforts through OSU-Tulsa Student Services. McClain and Student Services Director Nekki Reagan-Neeley met with Academy Central Principal Tedria Charles to discuss ways the university could do more for students at OSU-Tulsa’s Partner in Education school.

“I really wanted to make a positive impact on the sixth-graders,” McClain said. “I want to make a difference by motivating and inspiring these children. We all benefit from the outcomes.”

Charles said she is pleased with the difference the program is making in her students’ lives.

“They are really receptive to the mentors,” she said. “I would be happy to see this program expand.”

OSU-Tulsa hosts several events throughout the year to benefit students at Academy Central, including a holiday gift drive and a special campus visit so the kids can learn the value of higher education.

The program is seeking additional mentors increase the number of children from Academy Central Elementary participating. Volunteers will meet with students once a week at Academy Central.

Volunteers must pass a background check. For information or to sign up for the program, contact Melanie McClain.

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