Determined to find solutions for the challenges communities face throughout the country, 15 inspirational students from Oklahoma’s colleges and universities have been named 2014 Newman Civic Fellows in recognition for service to their local communities.
Alfa Abame, Southwestern Oklahoma State University; Stephanie Anderson, Connors State College; Cedric Bond, Oklahoma City University; Shannon Fish, Northern Oklahoma College; Corrynn Franklin, East Central University; Robin Goodiron, Rose State College; Shelly Joiner, Eastern Oklahoma State College; Rashida Jones-Frazier, Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City; Lucy Mahaffey, University of Oklahoma; Cody McPherson, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology; Charles McQuigg, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College; Faith Mincher, Southwestern Christian University; Kylie Pethoud, Northwestern Oklahoma State University; Elizabeth Rodriguez, University of Central Oklahoma; and Taylor Scalf, Southeastern Oklahoma State University are among 197 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 the challenges communities face throughout the country through service, research and advocacy. Each of Oklahoma’s 15 Fellows will receive a $500 scholarship from Oklahoma Campus Compact. Students are nominated by their college or university president.
“The State Regents 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. We extend our best wishes to each of the honorees as they complete their higher education and continue to serve their fellow Oklahomans.”
Abame was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Stillwater. A sophomore biology major planning to be a pediatric endocrinologist, she is an Oklahoma Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (OK-LSAMP) scholar conducting research on the seeds of a plant found in Weatherford. Through her high school’s National Honor Society and Beta Club, she worked with the county youth shelter, organizing clothes and food drives, as well as repair and painting. Abame volunteered for Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Stillwater Public Library and Stillwater Humane Society. When her church youth group adopted nursing home residents, Abame would visit the residents, become their pen pal and serve in their choir. A member of SWOSU’s Presidential Leadership Class, Abame has worked with Backpacks for Burcham Elementary and heads the Black Students’ Association tutoring program at Eastside Academy in Clinton. She is a student member of the Panorama Series Committee; a member of the student government association, Medical Professions and Biology clubs; and a resident adviser in Oklahoma Hall. Abame is passionate about support for the disadvantaged children of her native country and ultimately intends to serve a mission such as Doctors Without Borders.
Anderson is a patriot, parent and excellent example for the students of CSC. She has achieved many national and local honors, but her most meaningful contribution is the way she inspires those around her to try harder, be more and achieve their dreams. Students and faculty say Anderson’s tireless work for veterans on campus inspires them to be more involved and help those less fortunate. Anderson aspires to be a nurse and continue contributing to her community.
Bond’s passions include natural resources and people with disabilities. He volunteers his time in both areas while completing a history major and working at the Intergenerational Computer Center. He has always been fascinated by law and government, from serving as a 14-year-old page at the Washington State Capitol to currently serving as a volunteer water quality monitor for the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. As an internationally ranked kayaker, Bond has traveled to other countries and learned from people with diverse backgrounds. His everyday actions demonstrate his sincere desire to make a positive difference, including his activism through social media. In addition to other academic, work and volunteer activities, he regularly shares his love of his sport at a hospital for children with special needs. Bond has a track record of civic involvement that points to a future of public problem-solving, as he plans to attend law school to focus on natural resource legal issues.
Fish currently serves as president of the College Democrats and as a member of the Literature Club and Phi Theta Kappa. She recently arranged a raffle, sponsored by the Literature Club, to raise funds for the local domestic violence shelter. In addition, she organized a food drive on the Tonkawa campus to benefit the shelter. Through her efforts, the shelter received more than $300 worth of nonperishable foods. Fish is currently coordinating efforts on the campus to engage and enlighten students about sexual assault and domestic violence, especially during the month of April, which is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Fish clearly demonstrates a commitment to grassroots community organizing in her efforts to educate her fellow students about domestic violence and encourage them to become vocal advocates themselves.
Franklin, a junior at ECU, will graduate in spring 2015. She has emerged as the leader in local efforts to empower the unemployed and underemployed to improve their skills and find gainful employment. She has established Ada Jobs for Life, a character development program through which participants learn to set goals and overcome behaviors that hindered them in the past. Franklin is a tireless worker with exceptional organizational and leadership abilities that she developed during her eight-year Navy career. She has inspired program participants, workers and supporters alike, giving Ada Jobs for Life the potential to improve lives and bring drastic changes in participants’ standard of living for many years after they complete the program.
Goodiron, a sophomore at RSC, is majoring in Native American studies, and her student leadership is likewise focused on Native American needs. Her active role as president of the American Indian Association has revitalized the student organization and its engagement as a vital force on campus. She is similarly active in the native community, organizing annual events important to the Native American Church and her Seneca-Cayuga community.
Joiner, a second-year student at Eastern, is a member of the Honors Program and serves as president of Eastern’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society. For the past two years, Joiner assisted with PTK’s voter registration competition and was instrumental in the success of the weeklong event. PTK members provided a variety of activities designed to raise awareness and register voters. By registering an additional 11.1 percent of Eastern’s student population, the PTK members received first-place honors from Oklahoma Campus Compact in the statewide competition for the fourth consecutive year. Joiner is also actively engaged in the Oklahoma Blue Thumb (OBT) program, a statewide education program dedicated to promoting clean and healthy water ecosystems in Oklahoma. As an active member of OBT, Joiner helps provide the state of Oklahoma with invaluable data through water monitoring.
Jones-Frazier, a second-year student at OSU-OKC, exemplifies how to overcome poverty and negative influences. Jones-Frazier decided she wanted to go to college, get a degree in early childhood development and eventually own a day care center. While working toward her initial goal, she set her sights on an even higher goal of founding a day care to serve special needs/sick children by getting a nursing degree. Jones-Frazier says her goals are continuous improvement, encouraging others and leading by example. However, she says her greatest goal is to be an example to her children.
Mahaffey is a sophomore from Norman, with a dual major in international and area studies/ anthropology at OU. In high school, she began working on a project to understand the issue of human trafficking, after learning about this form of modern slavery through a film. Mahaffey initially worked with a statewide coalition, Oklahomans Against Human Trafficking (OATH), helping them to develop a publicity campaign, fundraising drives and “survival kits” to provide assistance to rescued children. She has participated in numerous forums to educate the public and raise awareness of the problems Oklahoma faces with trafficking, including a panel for the World Literature Today Student Advisory Board and the Oklahoma State Bar Association. Mahaffey won a $10,000 Davis Project for Peace Fellowship grant to develop a curriculum for Oklahoma high school students. The goal of the curriculum is to educate and empower young people to take action to end human trafficking. She is piloting the project this semester and will publish the curriculum for faculty across the state.
McPherson has volunteered more than 1,000 hours in Oklahoma and District IV for SkillsUSA, which works to ensure that students are prepared for workforce needs. He works with the Community Food Bank of Northeast Oklahoma and the March of Dimes and raises money for high school and technology center students for a summer leadership academy. McPherson has been involved with SkillsUSA since he was 16, serving on the board and teaching leadership classes across the nation to teen and adult students pursuing their goals in the workforce. He is the chairman for SkillsUSA Oklahoma Alumni and Friends and the Region IV representative for the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends executive board, representing nine states. McPherson also began a scholarship fund that sent two students to a leadership academy for one week each summer.
McQuigg is a sophomore at NEO. Through his leadership in the Sierra Student Coalition, a campus recycling program was reinvigorated; he developed a proposal that was presented to the campus administration, and recycling activities were restored within one semester. Through his efforts, McQuigg not only helped improve the look of the campus, but also helped the small community begin to do its part in the larger global issue of recycling. He was also instrumental in revitalizing the campus news station. He helped lead efforts to create a student-led weekly YouTube broadcast to bring pertinent issues to students’ attention.
Mincher, an energetic leader and junior at SWCU, holds numerous leadership roles at the university and in the community. She mentors, tutors and advocates for the well-being and restoration of developing children. For the past two years, Mincher has been actively engaged as a volunteer for Jedidiah, a local nonprofit organization that serves children without mothers in the home. She serves as a consistent “mother figure” for children and has a passion for providing positive reinforcements for the betterment of their childhood experience. Mincher is a leader and organizer of the “Free Camp” committee, which provides summer camp experiences for children from dysfunctional families. She is also active as an after-school tutor for low-income students in the Oklahoma City metro area.
Pethoud, a junior at NWOSU, has already chosen a life of public service as a social work major. She already works part time in her chosen field at the New Beginnings Domestic Crisis Center in Alva. She plans to pursue a master’s in social work and would like to pursue a career in public policy. Pethoud has been selected as NWOSU’s department of social sciences legislative intern for 2014. She will spend two weeks at the Oklahoma State Capitol working with Sen. Bryce Marlatt during the current legislative session. Pethoud understands the importance of combining a “grassroots” understanding of social issues with formal policy development in order to effect social change. She maintains a good GPA and is a member of the National Association of Student Social Workers and the Social Workers of Tomorrow local chapter.
Rodriguez, a fourth-year student leader, is an advocate for women’s education and empowerment. Through her education in business and French, she hopes to help women in underdeveloped countries develop entrepreneurship skills so they may better themselves, their families, their villages and their economies. Rodriguez plans to carry this vision forward in the near future, as she was recently hired by Youth for Christ International to serve in Gambia, Africa, after graduation.
Scalf, a Marlow sophomore studying early intervention and child development, has made significant contributions to her campus and local community during her first two years at Southeastern. Scalf helped established R.A.K. (Random Acts of Kindness) on campus. This organization encourages fellow students to embrace small acts of kindness and to never underestimate the power of simple gestures. One example is house and yard work for elderly community members who live close to campus. Scalf also serves as a Savage Storm Leader, assisting incoming freshman with the transition into higher education and as a Community Hall leader in university housing. Scalf is a Southeastern cheerleader and actively involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Baptist Collegiate Ministries. She also is engaged in the classroom as evidenced by an overall GPA of 3.60.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-six states have Campus Compact offices. Oklahoma Campus Compact was formed in 2000 and currently has 39 participating public and private colleges and universities.