Dr. Kristen Oertel and Owen Oertel
True Blue Neighbors Youth Mentoring, University of Tulsa
|University of Tulsa history professor Kristen Oertel (back row, center) and her son, Owen Oertel, (back row, second from right), receive Outstanding Mentor Awards from Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Chairman David L. Boren (left) and President Anil Gollahalli during Oklahoma Mentor Day at the Capitol. They are joined by their mentees Noah, Maria and Grecia. True Blue Neighbors, sponsored by the University of Tulsa, provides after-school mentoring at Kendall-Whittier Elementary School. (Photo by Travis Caperton, Oklahoma State Capitol)|
True Blue Neighbors Youth Mentoring Program aspires to help build a better community through quality after-school programming at Kendall-Whittier Elementary School. As a 21st Century Community Learning Center, the program provides equitable educational resources for youth. Program objectives include enhancing literacy achievement, access to healthy nutrition and community gardening, and developing positive social skills to build better citizens.
Kristen, who is a professor of American history at the University of Tulsa, has been a True Blue Mentor for the past two years. Program director Olivia Landrum said Kristen makes time to volunteer weekly with her mentees, despite her busy teaching schedule. “She has been very generous with her time, knowledge and patience,” Olivia said.
Not only is Kristen a mentor to students in the program, but she is also a role model to her eighth-grade son, Owen, who also volunteers as a program mentor. “She is instilling the importance of community, growth, self-development and persistence both at home and in our program,” Olivia said.
Kristen helps her third-grade students complete homework assignments and review basic academic skills. “Dr. Oertel has been an excellent mentor and inspiration to her mentees,” Olivia said. “She has shown them the value of honesty, sincerity and trust in themselves.
Owen also mentors third-graders each Wednesday and has never missed a session, Olivia said. “He’s a great kid and a great mentor.”
“Our True Blue Neighbors Youth Mentoring Program truly appreciates and values everything students have learned from Kristen and Owen,” Olivia added. “It will forever remain a major contributor behind the students’ success and achievements.”