Determined to find solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country, 11 inspirational students from Oklahoma’s colleges and universities have been named 2013 Newman Civic Fellows for service in their local communities.
Tonya Christian, Rogers State University; Loren Dunnam, East Central University; Kelly Everhart, Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City; Tami Gorton, OSU Institute of Technology; Loranda Green, Rose State College; Bridgette Hamill, Southeastern Oklahoma State University; Sadaf Irshad, University of Central Oklahoma; Dylan LaBeef, Connors State College; Kathryn Montes, Northwestern Oklahoma State University; Hailey Neubauer, the University of Oklahoma; and Jarrod Warnock, OSU, are among 181 students from 36 states 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 challenges facing communities throughout the country through service, research and advocacy. Students are nominated by their college or university president.
“We want to commend each of these students for the difference they make in the lives of others by consistently giving back to their communities,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Their civic leadership is an excellent example of the positive impact that can be made by one person. Each of these honorees have our best wishes as they complete their higher education and continue positively impacting their fellow Oklahomans.”
Christian has served as a volunteer for Rogers County Youth Services for the past two years while actively engaged in research on teen problems and challenges, including self-care, life skills, unemployment and problem resolution. She developed an extensive teen life-skills curriculum for the shelter’s rehabilitation group sessions, and she provides life-skills program training for agency staff.
Dunnam, an enrolled member of the Creek Nation, is deeply involved in improving the quality of life and standard of living for Native Americans. Dunnam’s efforts have resulted in the collection and delivery of clothing to the Pine Ridge and Crow Creek reservations of South Dakota. She also led efforts to deliver new toys and new clothing to the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. Dunnam organized a daylong street festival, which showed children, particularly Native American children, the opportunities that college offers and helped increase public awareness of poverty and the role education plays as a solution to poverty. Dunnam is an active member of the ECU community as an officer and member of several student organizations.
Everhart, a sophomore majoring in crime victims/survivor services, is deeply involved in advocacy efforts for victims of violent crimes within Oklahoma County. Through service-learning projects, Everhart serves as a leader in community-based activities, including coordinating support groups at the YWCA for children of battered women, providing crime victim advocacy at the Oklahoma City Police Department Victims Unit and working at the YWCA in the economic empowerment program for victims of domestic violence. Leading advocacy efforts for victims of violent crimes and working with the state’s district attorney, Everhart coordinated the 2012 National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims in Oklahoma County. Everhart serves as vice president of the Student Association for Victim Interests and Empowerment, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and maintains a 4.0 GPA.
Gorton enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the age of 17 and saw the country through the terrible events of 9/11. For more than 13 years, Gorton was an active member of Camp Fire USA, serving on the board of directors and as an officer. During this time, she trained camp counselors and strived to create a safe environment for children. This desire to protect children led her to conduct antidrug and violence conferences in Tulsa with the support and leadership of the Tulsa Police Department. Gorton was a part of Take Back Tulsa, an organization with a mission to rejuvenate Tulsa parks and the city. During her years of service in the armed forces, Gorton volunteered with the Make a Wish Foundation, where she utilized her culinary skills to create dishes for fundraisers to benefit charities in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. She has also served with St. Jude’s and Jerry’s Kids (Muscular Dystrophy Association) raising approximately $50,000 for childhood disease research.
Green is pursuing a degree in sociology with the intent to work with children. As a member of the leadership program, Green has volunteered at RSC sponsored events, including family orientation, Raider Days, Global Oklahoma and the adopted school holiday party. She has worked to increase awareness of the need for volunteers within her community. As a result, Green’s leadership group recruited 114 volunteers from the community who served 386 volunteer hours over a 12-week period. Active in her community, she volunteers at her children’s school and within the military community by offering mentorship to new spouses, welcoming soldiers home from deployments and assisting with base efforts geared toward children of deployed personnel. Green also helped put together more than 300 care packages for military members deployed overseas during the holidays. She helped raise more than $5,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network and helped local pharmacists promote a free flu clinic by organizing attendees and ensuring proper sanitation standards were met. She is on the President’s and Vice President’s honor rolls.
Hamill is pursuing a Master of Science in sport studies and athletic administration. She maintains a 3.83 GPA while working full time at Southeastern and constantly volunteering her time to serve others. Although Hamill has provided leadership for numerous local projects, she prefers to work directly with those in need of assistance. Hamill’s commitment and compassion extend well beyond people, as she also works tirelessly to rescue and place homeless animals.
Irshad, a graduate student, is studying bilingual education and teaching English as a second language. She has been involved in literacy efforts in the local community and volunteered extensively with local elementary schools. Irshad is committed to providing as many developmental opportunities for children as possible, both in the United States and her native country of Pakistan. Upon graduation, Irshad intends to return to Pakistan to gain additional teaching experience and to serve as a role model for young women in her country.
LaBeef volunteers many hours in service to the Muskogee Teen Center, while also continuing to balance schoolwork and family time. He dedicates many afternoons to opening the center so local teens have somewhere to gather and play basketball. Access to the facility is important to LaBeef because he recalls coming to it as a teen and playing basketball with his friends. In addition, he provides encouragement and lessons about life to the teens. His initiative to be involved and become a leader for his community shows the dedication and passion it takes to be successful.
Montes is a leader within the community and on campus. Since her arrival at Northwestern, Montes has been involved in numerous student organizations and community-based activities, which she has utilized to make a lasting impact on campus and in civic functions. Montes is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is a recipient of academic scholarships and is recognized on the Dean’s List. Montes has reached out to community youth by teaching running and cheering camps, and regularly volunteers as a teacher’s assistant at McKinley Middle School in Enid. Montes was selected as Northwestern’s 2012 Civic Education Fellow. This fellowship gave her the opportunity to serve in an internship for State Sen. Bryce Marlatt.
Neubauer is dedicated to addressing issues of education inequity through research and community involvement. She tutors local high school students in all subjects through the Norman Public Schools Indian Education Program and also serves as a tutor at Positive Tomorrows, a school that exclusively serves homeless children in Oklahoma City. Neubauer has mentored students in low-income high schools as a success consultant through the Student Success Academy. She strives toward equity on campus as a Sooner Ally and a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ) Program advisory board, where she plans programs and events to increase awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ issues throughout the campus community. Recently, Neubauer organized a community charity walk to benefit a local teenager suffering from a genetic liver disease, raising $1,600 toward his medical bills.
Warnock provides leadership for students who want to become involved with the community by working with civic and city officials to improve the community’s aesthetic appeal. In the program, students help elderly and infirm homeowners clean up and beautify their properties and the larger community. Warnock continually trains new students for sustainability of the program. To date, more than 150 volunteer hours have contributed to the OSU Campus Community Cleanup program. Warnock has also supervised students at community service cleanup events, including the Into the Streets event for local citizens. Warnock’s contributions include an increased capacity for service and opened communication lines between the campus and Stillwater’s city manager, police department, code enforcement and marketing department. Warnock, who is majoring in biochemistry, plans to design sustainable programs and work to improve people’s lives at the state and local levels.
Campus Compact is a coalition of colleges and universities that develops college students’ awareness and skills in civic responsibility through service-learning, community service and civic engagement. Thirty-five states have Campus Compact offices. Oklahoma Campus Compact was formed in 2000 and currently has 36 participating public and private colleges and universities.