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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Minority women connect with community

Wednesday, October 24, 2007  
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By Alana Duffle

A senior at Oklahoma Christian University strives to empower the world one person at a time. During her junior year at Oklahoma Christian, Latoya Anderson instituted a mentoring program connecting minority (African American) collegiate women with minority businesswomen in the workforce. This program began in August and concluded in February.

Anderson was one of 51 women selected as participants in the Collegiate Women of Color Leadership Development Program. As a result, she was awarded a grant through the Foundation for Independent Higher Education.

The grant was funded by the Kellogg Foundation. To receive this grant, Anderson created a project proposal for a minority mentoring project. This project eventually became what she now calls, Generation to Generation.

“This idea began in my kitchen. We were discussing possible projects and the idea for the mentoring program arose. We both loved the idea. We could see that there was a need for it in our community,” Jeanetta Sims, former assistant professor of communications, said.

Generation to Generation was created not only to connect collegiate women with businesswomen but also to educate collegiate women on three main core components: health, fitness and finance. These components are items Anderson and Sims felt were of utmost importance, not only in the business world, but in life.

“Fitness is my desire. I’m even getting a degree in it. I felt it was important to equip young minority women with knowledge of fitness, finance and health. Seeing as African American women are at high risk for high blood pressure and heart disease, I felt health and fitness education were of great importance,” Anderson said.

This project began with Anderson but involved many other people. There were seven minority students selected to be a part of Generation to Generation, three from the University of Central Oklahoma and four from Oklahoma Christian. These students were set up with their own mentor. The mentors were leaders in the workforce, Vice Presidents of large corporations, principals, professors, entrepreneurs and many more.

“It is important to see people who look like you in your career field. Minority women have difficulty doing this. Generation to Generation provided a psychological shift for these girls. It was a huge boost education-wise. It also provided validation for them. They learned that they could do anything,” Sims said. “The first step of Generation to Generation was changing their minds about feasibility. Generation to Generation forced them to change the way they approached work. It opened up a whole new world that wasn’t even psychologically there for them. It was a powerful experience.”

As Generation to Generation concluded, Anderson realized she accomplished her goal. The women involved learned from each other, bonded and became psychologically changed.

“I learned that if you put an idea into play, execute everything you planned and you stay on track, you will get an amazing ending. These people probably still keep in contact, which is what we wanted. We wanted the connection to follow them not only to their careers but into everything. Ultimately, I learned that if you work hard and put your mind to something, you can accomplish it, no matter what your background,” Anderson said.

Although Generation to Generation is over now, the legacy lives on. Anderson’s hard work was noticed by many.

“I’m always thrilled to hear about our students’ community service, and it’s particularly exciting to hear about a student who is gaining leadership experience while helping others,” Allison Garret, vice president for academic affairs, said.

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