Academic All-State Alumni Mentoring Program, University of Oklahoma, Norman
Kiana Yang Prather of Norman is an active pre-med senior, student leader and undergraduate researcher at the University of Oklahoma, yet she has made time in her busy schedule to serve as an Academic All-State Alumni Mentor at McKinley Elementary School in Norman.
For the past year-and-a-half, Prather has met weekly with her mentee, Abi. The duo enjoys doing crafts, decorating selfies on Snapchat, making origami and drawing, at which Abi excels. One fond memory they share is visiting the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History together. In addition, they do growth activities such as exploring strengths and weaknesses and writing down goals for improvement.
“Among our thoughtful, dedicated mentors, Kiana has excelled as a leader and servant,” said Beverly Woodrome, Boren Mentoring Initiative director. “She strives to be someone Abi and our Boren Mentoring Initiative can count on.”
Prather encourages, guides and supports Abi, Woodrome said. As their relationship has grown, Abi has become more patient and willing to work on challenging tasks. In doing double digit multiplication, for example, Prather broke assignments into smaller bits to keep Abi focused and motivated. She also texts or emails Woodrome regularly about her mentoring sessions and plans her sessions for the fun and growth of her mentee.
“Abi and Kiana both really like and respect each other,” Woodrome said. “Last year Abi made Kiana a handmade Christmas card with Kiana’s initials on it and gave her a best mentor trophy. This year, she showed Kiana an online dress-up game, during which she created an anime avatar of Kiana and gave her angel wings. Abi and Kiana are the best listeners and cheerleaders for each other.”
In addition to mentoring, Prather serves as the Boren Mentoring Initiative Liaison at OU. In this role, she has created and driven strong momentum to encourage others to mentor. Last summer, she recruited a videographer, scripted, cast and produced a video to promote mentoring. Her unyielding efforts and consistent follow-up have secured a successful fall OU Academic All-Stater reunion and new mentors.
Prather said she has benefited from mentoring in multiple ways, gaining a stronger sense of responsibility, learning to plan mentoring activities and stay organized, as well as learning the importance of being consistent and prompt.
“Mentoring is not just me teaching Abi things and being a role model for her, but also her touching me with her most pure thoughts and surprising me with her progress in many ways,” Prather said. “We learn and grow together. I’ve learned to be a good listener and cheerleader, to be creative, and to think from a child’s perspective. Seeing her face light up every time I go see her is one of the best feelings in the world.”
About the Program: The Academic All-State Alumni Mentoring Program, coordinated by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, matches Academic All-State Scholars with students at targeted elementary schools. Each student spends at least an hour a week volunteering one-to-one with an assigned student.