Mentors help students shoot for the stars
Posted: Monday, August 24, 2015 7:00 am
|Timothy and Ashten Duncan, mentor|
Ashten Duncan knows the value of learning and play. While serving as a mentor to Timothy, a third grader, at McKinley Elementary School in Norman, Duncan alternated fun activities like drawing or time on the playground with educational activities like reading.
Duncan is a volunteer through the Boren Mentoring Initiative program, which connects college students with kids who would benefit from some extra attention. Each mentor spends at least an hour a week volunteering one-to-one with an assigned elementary school student to their mutual benefit.
“The entire mentoring experience made me more appreciative for what I have and am able to do,” Duncan said, “I learned that quite a few children in our community are much more limited than I ever was due to financial barriers.”
As a Boren Mentoring Initiative mentor, Meghan Bradley of Norman had the opportunity to mentor Jasmine, a second grader at McKinley.
“Jasmine is excited to have a mentor, and I’m happy to be her mentor,” Bradley said.
Bradley wrote “A Parents Guide to Raising a Successful Reader,” when she was a Norman High School senior as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project to promote early childhood literacy. The Boren Mentoring Initiative posted the booklet online as a resource for its mentoring network. Meghan is the daughter of Lisa Bradley of Norman.
“Growing up in Moore shaped my perspective on the needs of our community and truly served as an impetus for much of what I do now at OU and for what I aspire to do in the future,” Duncan said.
According to McKinley staff, Duncan kept Timothy thoroughly engaged and often laughing. Duncan was an Academic All-State Alumni Mentor who provided academic support and encouragement to Timothy.
“Being able to bring some joy to my mentee when he had such tough days at school gave me a wonderful sense of fulfillment,” Duncan said.
|Meghan Bradley and Jasmine, her mentee|
Duncan graduated from Moore High School in 2012. An Academic All-Stater, he is majoring in microbiology at the University of Oklahoma. He is involved Alpha Phi Omega and the Oklahoma Blood Institute, and he worked as a physician’s assistant medical scribe and training scribe.
“Throughout my childhood, I observed on many occasions how the lack of a positive role model adversely affected my peers,” Duncan said. “It was troubling to know that some of my friends were falling into the hands of an atrocious fate because of their lack of a driving force.”
The son of Jeffrey and Misty Duncan of Moore, Duncan is also an Olympia Prep ACT Tutor among many other activities.
“I consider myself to have been blessed due to having a number of influential individuals during my time living in Moore, including particular teachers who will always be near and dear to me,” he said. “In college, the idea of serving as a positive role model has manifested itself in my life in the form of mentoring.”
A sophomore at OU, Bradley is studying public relations with an environmental sustainability minor. She is active in Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and the Public Relations Student Society of America. She is also a daycare worker at McFarland United Methodist Church. This summer Bradley worked, took classes at the university and interned with Brenda Wheelock, public relations director of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
“Jasmine has a lot of potential, and I have really enjoyed working with her,” Bradley said. “Jasmine always has a positive attitude about our meetings and is open to talking and interacting with me.”
During the summer, Duncan had an internship in Tulsa through OU’s School of Community Medicine and began applying for medical schools.
“For my mentee, the experience made him more enthusiastic about pursuing higher aspirations and having more confidence in himself,” Duncan said. “I have watched as he has become more comfortable with himself as a person over the course of mentoring.”
“Quality mentoring programs can improve a mentee’s behavior, academics and self-confidence,” said Beverly Woodrome, Boren Mentoring Initiative director. “Through their involvement in such a program, Academic All-State alumni and their friends have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to Oklahoma education.”
The All-State Alumni Mentor Program is administered by the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative, a program of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools.
“Mentoring has been nothing short of a pleasure for me,” Duncan said. “I love every minute I spend having the opportunity—no, the honor—to impact the life of a boy in need of camaraderie and motivation.
For Jasmine’s end-of-the year mentee certificate, Bradley chose one of her favorite quotes, “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”