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Published 05/16/2014
By Christina Gray, Media Relations Specialist

The Young Women’s Empowerment Institute is a mentoring program for freshman female students attending Langston University. It is a one-year program that provides transformative opportunities to young women between 17-21 years of age who are first-time, full-time entering freshmen. The program helps improve their self-esteem and equip them with a life plan. The program is a series of seminars for the participants focused on professional development, social etiquette, health and wellness. Additionally, mentors are brought in to educate and guide these young women. The follow-up and monitoring of the progress of participants’ life plans continues through graduation and two years post-graduation.

The Young Women’s Empowerment Institute is a partnership between Langston University and the Central Area of The Links Incorporated. As the First Lady of Langston University, Tiffany Hill-Smith wanted to create a mentoring program that addressed the need to empower young college women to successfully manage the collegiate landscape and graduate ready to engage the global community. The program is a result of her efforts along with Alice Strong Simmons’, Central Area Director of the Links, Incorporated, vision partnering with Central Area Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) to work with young women attending these institutions, beginning with Langston University.

A Women in Leadership Luncheon was held earlier this month as a fundraising initiative to benefit the Young Women’s Empowerment Institute. Sophia A. Nelson, Esq., the keynote speaker at the luncheon, is an award-winning author and black women’s empowerment activist. She is the author of the award-winning 2011 non-fiction book “Black Women Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama.”

“I am an award-winning author, but I still look for guidance in my two mentors at this stage in my life when I make a mistake,” Nelson said.

She explained a scenario where she was advised that she should think things through because so many young women look up to her. She explained that she realized the importance of admitting when she makes mistakes.

“That is why I feel it is vital that young women have a mentorship program to learn good citizenship practices”, she said.

Nelson believes that there is an order and a structure for success and that we are obligated to teach the younger generation how to live and succeed.

“I want to challenge you to do something different because this is a different generation and often we don’t communicate effectively,” Nelson said. “This generation is smart and savvy; build them up, counsel them and provide guidance. Don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk. This generation is looking for and wants something genuine.”

Nelson expressed that it doesn’t matter where one lives but how one is raised and the strong role models one has that shape a person. She applauded the participants of the mentoring program for wanting to develop their skills and referred to Titus 2 as a guide, “if you are wise, you accept counsel.” Nelson abruptly stopped and pointed directly to Beautiful- Joy Fields, a Mathematics major and academic scholar at Langston University, to say, “she is the exception, not the rule.”

“The Young Women’s Empowerment Institute has had a very personal and influential impact on my life,” Fields said. “It offers a life plan for young women that will aid us even after college. I am thrilled to be a part of a program that is helping make our dreams a reality. I am thankful for your commitment to me.”

Fields aspires to develop a chain of charter schools across the nation upon graduation and currently holds a 4.0 GPA.

Strong Simmons and Hill-Smith are dedicated to the growth and development of the mentoring program and will host this luncheon annually to create awareness and raise funds.

“It is imperative to invest in the young women on campus and ensure that the Young Women’s Empowerment Institute will continue to help future Langston students”, said Hill-Smith.

If you would like to make a donation or to learn more about how to become a mentor, please contact the Langston University Foundation for more information at (405) 466- 3482. Langston University is dedicated to the development of tomorrow’s leaders, are you?

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