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OSU mentors recognized by the Oklahoma Foundation of Excellence

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Thirty-one outstanding Oklahoma mentors were recognized by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and their community mentoring organizations for National Mentor Month in January.  Of the thirty-one who were recognized, eight were Oklahoma State University students or recent graduates.  

The honored mentors were submitted by their mentoring orgnaizations across Oklahoma, each receiving certificates of achievements from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is a statewide nonprofit that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma's public schools.  Through its statewide mentoring initiative, the foundation promotes the growth and development of quuality youth mentoring programs.  

Below are the honored Oklahoma State University mentors:


Fiona Byrd

Fiona Byrd

Fiona Byrd is a junior biosystems engineering major at Oklahoma State University, has mentored sophomore student Meredith Wichman for a year.

“Fiona was selected for recognition for her passion and dedication as a mentor,” said Jordan Blackburn, coordinator of Student Retention for the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Student Center. “She wants to ensure that new freshmen have a sense of comfort and security in knowing what resources are available to them.”

Byrd and Wichman enjoy one-on-one conversations, grabbing coffee with one another to chat about how the semester is going. They shared a major at the time of the match, providing a unique opportunity for Byrd to offer guidance to Wichman in courses she had already completed.

“Fiona is not only a great example for her mentee, she is also a wonderful example for fellow mentors,” shared Blackburn. “She is diligent in attending the mentor training sessions and mentor program events on a consistent basis. Fiona makes it her mission to be as helpful and resourceful as possible for her mentee.”

About the Program: Women Inspiring Successful Engineers matches upperclasswomen in OSU’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology with incoming freshman women to provide academic and social support.


Aaron Corona


Aaron Corona

Aaron Corona is a junior mechanical engineering major at Oklahoma State University. Corona mentored Adrian Toquothty during the Summer Bridge Program, helping him get adjusted to college his freshman year.

“Aaron was selected to be honored for his exemplary service as a mentor for the Summer Bridge program,” said Jordan Blackburn, coordinator of Student Retention for the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Student Center. “His attention to the needs of his mentees is highly admirable. If a student needs assistance, Aaron goes above and beyond to ensure that student receives what they need as soon as possible. He goes out of his way to engage mentees in conversation to create a true sense of community.”

Corona’s favorite mentor/mentee activity is one-on-one conversation time. Though the Summer Bridge program is over, Corona still makes time to stop by Adrian’s residence hall to check in and talk with him. They enjoy one another, have the same major and many of the same interests.

“Aaron’s attention to detail has had a positive impact on the Summer Bridge program,” shared Blackburn. “His ability to anticipate the needs of student mentees has been a tremendous asset for the program. Aaron wants to make sure he can help mentees not make some of the mistakes he has, and to help the mentee grow and take the path they want to take.”

About the Program: The Summer Bridge program helps introduce incoming freshmen to courses, people and activities of OSU’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology. The two-and-a-half-week program includes mini-courses in pre-calculus, physics, and tech writing, as well as design projects, industry presentations, community service projects and team building. The program is led by 11 counselors, with each assigned a small group of five to six students to oversee. In addition, the counselors assist with class attendance, design projects, group activities and study hall. 


William Crawford


William Crawford

William Crawford is a senior architecture major at Oklahoma State University. Crawford is a Success Coach with the Architecture Coaching program and has been matched with mentee Paul Johnson for the past few months.

“William has been a very effective Success Coach, having mentored several freshman in the architecture program,” said Jordan Blackburn, coordinator of Student Retention for the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Student Center. “He has been an encourager and helped them see the bigger picture when it comes to assignments and how to work hard in the major while also taking care of themselves as individuals. William has an infectious positive outlook, always ready with a smile and a question to get others involved.”

Crawford likes to sit down with Johnson to interact while working on homework. He enjoys being one-on-one while Paul works to draw for his projects. Crawford feels that this helps both push and encourage him and his mentee.

“This fall, in William’s second term as a Success Coach, I watched as he assisted the new coaches to develop strategies to ensure their own meetings with freshman were successful,” shared Blackburn. “At the end of the Success Team program, William was selected as the most effective coach by the freshman students!”

About the Program:  OSU’s Architecture Coaching program is a seven-week program for all Architecture and Architectural Engineering freshmen, who are matched with upperclassmen mentors.


 Cardin Hart


Cardin Hart

Cardin Hart was a chemical engineering student at Oklahoma State University who has gone on to his first year of medical school at the University of Oklahoma in fall 2019. During his time at OSU, Hart was a mentor in the Chemical Engineering Student Mentor Program, matched with Blake Nofziger over the past year.

“The chemical engineering picnic during the fall has always been my favorite mentor/mentee activity,” shared Hart. “This event allows mentors and mentees to mingle with each other and the chemical engineering faculty as well. Blake and I were able to get to know one another on a more personal level outside the school environment at this event. While we did not know one another well before we were matched, we are also in the same fraternity and this match helped strengthen our bond.”

Hart was able to provide a caring and calming voice and give advice to Nofziger on both the basics and content of chemical engineering classes as well as things such as involvement in organizations and tips for the career fair.

“It can be intimidating to be a new student on campus,” Hart said. “Mentoring new students in the Chemical Engineering Student Mentor Program also helped teach me the importance of seeking out mentorship in my new environment at medical school this year.”

About the Program: OSU senior chemical engineering majors who are active members of Omega Chi Epsilon (a chemical engineering honor society) serve as mentors and guides for junior chemical engineering majors through the difficult transition to and rigorous demands of the professional school (the last two years of the major).


Lamar Lawson


Lamar Lawson

Lamar Lawson is a senior electrical engineering major at Oklahoma State University and has been matched with mentee Kaleb Runte for a year, though the two knew each other before the match, making the relationship a great fit from the start.

“Lamar is an outstanding role model and mentor,” said Jordan Blackburn, coordinator of Student Retention for the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Student Center. “He is able to connect with Kaleb and is approachable and available when Kaleb needs assistance. Lamar understands the importance of one-on-one interaction and how it can make a tremendous difference in one’s life.”

Lawson and Runte enjoy playing video games together, going to the Colvin Recreation Center, and just hanging out and talking about life. Lawson helps his mentee understand the importance of not getting lost in textbooks during college, to be willing to venture out and enjoy other hobbies and interests.

“Lamar has enjoyed experiencing the excitement of college through his mentee’s eyes. This has helped to keep the college experience fresh for him as a senior,” shared Blackburn. “Lamar’s impact has been great. Students gravitate to him, they can tell he truly cares for their well-being. Our mentor events are enhanced by Lamar’s presence and expertise.”

About the Program: OSU’s Inspiring Successful Engineers matches successful upperclassmen in engineering with incoming freshmen to help them assimilate to college and prepare for the rigorous study of engineering.


Jennifer Litchfield

Jennifer Litchfield

Jennifer Litchfield is a junior mechanical and aerospace engineering student at Oklahoma State University and was a mentee in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Student Council Big-Little program. Now, she is giving back to the program as a mentor to Braxton Beuke.

“Jennifer was selected to be honored because she has spent the most time and had the biggest impact on her mentee,” said Jordan Blackburn, coordinator of Student Retention for the CEAT Student Center. “Jennifer benefitted from having a wonderful mentor, and she wanted to pay it forward by being an outstanding mentor herself.”

Beuke and Litchfield are involved in many of the same student organizations. They like similar things and are pursuing similar opportunities. Litchfield and Braxton love to catch up with one another over a meal.

“Jennifer has helped guide Braxton through her first finals week,” shared Blackburn. “She has helped send opportunities Braxton’s way within the college. Jennifer is great about checking in with Braxton regularly to make sure college is not overwhelming to her. Jennifer is always ready and eager to assist in improving our mentoring program. She has been an integral component to our success.”

About the Program: Student Council Big-Little Program matches selected upperclassmen and women as “Bigs” to the CEAT Freshman Council “Littles.” Bigs mentor freshmen particularly in the area of leadership both on campus and within CEAT. They also help connect the freshmen to the student organizations within the college.


Rebecca Powers


Rebecca Powers

Rebecca Powers is a senior chemical engineering student at Oklahoma State University and has served as a Parker Engineering, Architecture and Technology Expert (PEATE) mentor for the past three years and has been matched with mentee Andee Beth Fitts the last two years.

“Rebecca has a passion for helping incoming freshman acclimate to OSU,” said Jordan Blackburn, coordinator of Student Retention for the CEAT Student Center. “As a senior, she is very experienced in providing direction and encouragement to freshman mentees as they navigate their first year.”

Fitts and Powers enjoy working on homework together, and Powers has given Fitts helpful knowledge on how to navigate the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology. They share a major, so Powers has been particularly helpful to Fitts in navigating that department. As a result of their relationship, Fitts has decided to follow in Powers’ footsteps and become a PEATE mentor herself.

“Rebecca has been a PEATE mentor since the program was created. She has been instrumental in developing the program and providing guidance for growth and sustainability,” shared Blackburn. “Her excitement for planning and delivering programming is infectious and helps to get those around her engaged!”

About the Program: The Parker Engineering, Architecture and Technology Experts are a group of students referred to simply as “PEATEs.” They are upperclassmen and women who live in Parker Residence Hall and serve as examples, mentors and experts in how to succeed as an OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology student. They help students locate and utilize available resources, transition to OSU and the challenging majors in CEAT, and get involved on campus and in college.


Caleb Smith 


Caleb Smith

Caleb Smith is a senior biochemistry and molecular biology major who serves as a Peer Academic Tutor at the LASSO Center at Oklahoma State University. Caleb serves on the leadership staff at LASSO, working to train new tutors and helping tutor students in chemistry.

“Caleb jumps into helping students excel academically with great gusto,” said Susan Malec, LASSO Center coordinator for tutoring services. “He has a passion for learning and for helping others understand the courses they may be struggling in. Students have commented several times that they would not have passed Organic Chemistry without Caleb’s ongoing help in explaining key course concepts.”

Smith regularly goes above and beyond, contacting students outside of their study sessions to check in and see how they did on exams. He treats others with respect and delights in seeing what they can accomplish academically.

About the Program: The LASSO Center is dedicated to helping all OSU students succeed as they transition into college and throughout their college experience. LASSO’s goal is to ensure the academic success of all OSU students by assisting students who are underprepared for the demands of the university experience to become well-prepared students to advance in their studies, and students who are advanced in their studies to achieve academic excellence. LASSO Center staff works to empower students to take an active role in their learning experience by fostering the development of critical thinking, active learning and increased self-awareness through collaborative partnerships with LASSO Tutors, Academic Success Coaches and Supplemental Instruction Leaders. 

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RELEASE CONTACT: Kristi Wheeler | CEAT Marketing | 405-744-5831|

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