Pam Olson Vennerberg
Cathryn L. & Jon R. Withrow Leadership Scholars Program, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Oklahoma, Norman
Journalist Pam Olson Vennerberg of Norman is recognized for her dedication and commitment to two University of Oklahoma students, political science and history major Jesse Hare and Letters and history major Dylan Rodolf, whom she mentors through the Withrow Leadership Scholars Program.
“Pam has long been a faithful supporter of the OU College of Arts and Sciences,” said Dr. Rhonda Kyncl, associate dean for students. “One aspect of her support and engagement with the college has been as a Withrow Leadership Scholars mentor and as a member of our Board of Advocates. Her mentorship has been particularly significant as she has doubled her duties, mentoring two of our leadership scholars.”
Kyncl said Olson Vennerberg, an OU alumna, is generous with her time, meeting the students at least monthly, taking them to dinner and to events on campus.
“While Pam and her husband, Tom Boettcher, often attend events with Dylan and Jesse, her true gift to them is her time and generous wisdom,” Kyncl said. “Both Pam and Tom have lived very interesting and engaged lives: Pam as a reporter for CNN, Tom as an author and war correspondent, and they have shared so much of their stories with these students – stories that resound with wisdom, life lessons, and interesting character.”
Their investment in Hare and Rodolf became particularly significant this past summer. In mid-June, one of the Withrow Leadership Scholars, Daniel Holland, died tragically while traveling with the mentees in Europe. Olson Vennerberg not only contacted both students before they returned to the United States offering her condolences and support, but upon their return, she met with both of them and accompanied them to Holland’s service in McKinney, Texas, and attended the OU Memorial Service for Daniel with them after fall classes began in August.
“Pam and Tom truly exemplify the mentor spirit we want our students to experience,” Kyncl said. “They have poignantly lived out the role of the ‘mentor’ as they have accompanied these young men through the very ordinary academic life and in through a significant life event that has left us all forever changed.”
About the Program: Students in OU’s Cathryn L. & Jon R. Withrow Leadership Scholars Alumni Mentoring Program are paired with an alumnus or friend of the College of Arts and Sciences for a mentoring relationship. The program recognizes the brightest and most involved students in the college. Students from the sophomore, junior and senior classes are selected on the basis of grade point average, university or community service and leadership potential. Leadership Scholars meet regularly for leadership development activities, guest speakers, social events and community service.