Tag: 2024

Amber Bradford-Nealy headshot

A New Generation of Healthcare Leaders Emerge from the Soil of Public Education

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OU Health Appoints Amber Nealy as Its First African American Chief Nursing Officer

by Deena V. Thomas, OKCPS Retired Educator and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Educational roots matter.

A child’s first teachers are their parents and grandparents, absorbing deep-rooted instruction in the home, followed by the fundamental academics of teaching and learning, cultivated and nurtured in common education. Lastly, the preparation process to enter the workforce is taught and mentored during the journey toward post-secondary educational attainment.

These pathways led Amber Bradford-Nealy to walk directly into executive nursing leadership, which she says is her God-given purpose.

Her purpose and His plan came to fruition. The University of Oklahoma (OU) Health named Amber Nealy, MSN, R.N., NE-BC, as the inaugural Chief Nursing Officer of Ambulatory and Cancer Services (CNO).

Nealy is the first black to hold this position of CNO at OU Health, earmarking a significant milestone in Black History within the Sooner State.

“In a quote for the organization, I was asked about diversity why it mattered to me, and why does it make a difference. Why does it matter whether or not we have a diverse workforce? I think it matters because Oklahoma City’s Eastside and Spencer community students and the next generation need to see people who look like them in places and spaces where they aspire to be. It is good to know they may have a similar background or upbringing as they have had, so then it lets them know what they aspire to be is not so far off,” Nealy said.

Since December 2020, Nealy served as Director of Nursing at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center, infusing her knowledge, experience, and relationships, which propelled her into the CNO role.

Nealy has been with OU Health since 2008, starting as a Nurse Partner in the inpatient Adult Medicine Specialty Unit, where she worked as a Clinical RN, Clinical Supervisor, and Clinical Manager. Additionally, Nealy held the position of the Director of Adult Endoscopy.

Nealy has served as the Chair of the Nursing Ancillary and Advisory Council for Epic Implementation, as well as a vast array of other committees. She is a certified Nurse Executive by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Nealy was first introduced to the health field at the Oklahoma University Health Science Center (OUHSC) when she was a junior at Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) Northeast Academy of Health Sciences and Engineering.

“We were the first graduating class of Northeast Academy of Health Sciences and Engineering, completing grades sixth through 12, and many of us referred to the academy as a social experiment of our time,” she laughs. “I remember my teacher, Mrs. Bessie Bryant, bringing us to OUHSC’s student union to attend class a few days a week. I had many great experiences while going through the OUHSC program, which opened up several healthcare opportunities right before my eyes,” Nealy said.

OKCPS Superintendent, Dr. Sean McDaniel heads up the state’s largest school district. He emphasized the most important key driving force is the collective relationship building that takes place in every school.

“Our building leaders, teachers, and staff know our students by name and by need and provide encouragement and counsel, while also connecting them to the resources that will help them on their journey to post-secondary success, whatever that may look like for each student. For students who have the desire to attend college, career tech, enter the workplace, or head to the military, it is imperative that the district offers a variety of resources and opportunities for them to be successful after graduation,” McDaniel said.

After high school graduation, Nealy had planned to attend a community college and seek a nursing degree, which would have been free. Instead, she went in a different direction and headed north to Langston University (LU). She qualified for the full-ride Edwin P. McCabe scholarship, which is awarded to first-time freshmen entering college after high school graduation.

“LU found me! Everything was paid for, my books, my food, my fees, and my room and board. I did not have to come out of pocket for anything, which was so comforting for me. Langston University’s nursing program was competitive and offered a challenging curriculum,” Nealy said.

LU’s interim President, Dr. Ruth Ray Jackson stands firm, saying its School of Nursing and Health Professions is shaped intentionally to exceed the nation’s nursing standards.

“Langston University’s nursing program goes beyond these fundamentals by integrating content that addresses healthcare disparities and seeks to improve health outcomes in underserved populations. Additionally, our program also places a strong emphasis on leadership development, preparing graduates to assume leadership and advocacy roles within a variety of healthcare settings,” Jackson said.

Dr. Teressa Hunter, LU’s Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions, says it is the school’s mission that drives the rigor.

“Langston University’s nursing curriculum is purposefully designed to be rigorous to support our students, so they are equipped to navigate clinical practice and leadership roles with a focus on the best outcomes. It is crucial to teach our students that when faced with challenges, they need to know how to respond positively, and when challenges come, rewards often follow,” Hunter said.

LU Director of Alumni, Rachel Goff-Belmon, and Nealy have four common bonds. The two are LU graduates, McCabe scholars, members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., (DST), and were classmates during their undergraduate years.

“I served as the President of the Beta Upsilon Chapter of DST for several years in college. This position allowed me to grow my supervisory skills and experience in stewarding others,” Nealy said.

“Soror Nealy’s administration style is to lead by example. She demonstrated this by keeping the chapter in compliance with her organizational skills. She orchestrated the chapter’s efforts to implement programs that align with the sorority’s Five-Point Programmatic Thrust and modeled her commitment to academic excellence through her high graduate point average (GPA),” Belmon said.

Belmon stressed Nealy rendered wholehearted ‘service’ by assisting fellow nursing students while demonstrating a deep understanding of the importance of diversity in the nursing field.

Nealy says OU Health supported her desire to continue as a lifelong learner.

“OU Health as an organization has put in place many programs to pursue higher education and advanced training or advanced certification, which benefit the working adult,” she said.

Nealy completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2009, graduating Magna Summa Laude with, a 3.50 GPA. She earned a Master of Science in Nursing, with a focus on nursing management and leadership, made available by OU Health’s tuition reimbursement program. Currently, Nealy is working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), a degree-accelerated program, supported by OU Health partnership in collaboration with the OU College of Nursing, and the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing. Her DNP is a terminal degree, which is scheduled to be conferred in May 2025.

“As an OU Health employee, the program pays for my tuition, books, and fees. Each step has afforded me something different. In terms of the MSN level, I learned a lot about leadership styles and ways of communicating with your team. At the DNP level, we look at problem system-level issues and try to understand how we can improve the organization as a whole. OU Health has invested in me as an individual employee,” Nealy said.

Nealy’s family planted the first seeds into her future long before her birth. Those first seeds were germinated, watered, and fertilized by her parents, as well as the other public educational institutions. Now, those seeds have sprouted and bore fruit to reveal her journey and countless outcomes that are more far-reaching than one can calculate in dollars and cents – Priceless.

However, Nealy says it is the humble, sacrificial contributions of her grandparents. Both grandparents were farmers, the Watts from the all-black township of Boley, and the Bradfords from the small rural town of Mason. They gave all that they had in the selling of land and livestock that kept her grounded.

“My father, the second youngest of 10 children, tells stories of when he was a child and how there was not enough food to eat. His mother would go without eating, so her children would not go hungry. My parents always instilled in us kids that they wanted us to be better and go further than what they had done. I believe that part of my recognition of their humble beginnings is to go further because they have afforded me those opportunities. I can stand on their shoulders,” she said.

Amber Nealy is reaping the harvest, having earned a seat at the bountiful table, where healthcare decisions and policies are shaped and governed.

“From where I sit, I want to be a light,” Nealy said.

Langston University group photo at 2024 K-INBRE Symposium

Two Langston University students earn awards at annual K-INBRE Symposium

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by Ellie Melero, Media Relations Specialist

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Two Langston University students took home awards at the annual Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE) Symposium Jan. 12-14.

Senior crop and soil sciences major Kayla Smith earned a 2nd place Award of Excellence in Oral Presentations for her research on “Impairments in Cerebral Autoregulation and Cerebral Reactivity in Cancer Survivorship.” Junior biology major Daysha Isaac earned an Award of Excellence in Poster Presentations for her research on “Stalk Cell Movement in Drosophila: A model to understanding how migrating cells shape tissues and organs.”

“My experience was fun and also interesting,” Smith said. “It was my first time presenting oral presentations.”

Kayla Smith presenting at the 2024 K-INBRE Symposium
Senior crop and soil sciences major Kayla Smith earned a 2nd place Award of Excellence in Oral Presentations at the 2024 K-INBRE Symposium. Photo provided by Kayla Smith.

K-INBRE is a collaborative effort of medical and academic institutions in Kansas and Oklahoma to “promote multidisciplinary research networks with a focus on Cell and Developmental Biology,” according to the K-INBRE website. Langston University is the only Oklahoma-based institution partnered with K-INBRE.

The program offers LU students mentored research opportunities as well as opportunities to present their research at events like the annual Symposium. For example, Smith, a second-year K-INBRE participant, worked with researchers at Kansas State University.

This is Isaac’s first year participating in K-INBRE. She was introduced to the program by one of her biology professors, Dr. Kj Abraham, who helped mentor her in presenting her research. She also received advice on the structure and presentation of her research from Dr. Lindsay Davis.

Isaac has enjoyed her time in K-INBRE so far, and she was excited to present her research at the Symposium. She studied the ovarioles present in female fruit flies’ ovaries and tracked mutations and their effects on the stalk cells.

Daysha Isaac presents at the 2024 K-INBRE Symposium
Junior biology major Daysha Isaac earned an Award of Excellence in Poster Presentations at the 2024 K-INBRE Symposium. Photo provided by Daysha Isaac.

“This information allowed us to apply it to birth defects in infants,” Isaac said. “No way are we trying to cure it but gather more information about cell movement to make a connection. Such birth defects we compared it to were spina bifida and microcephaly.”

Smith is likewise passionate about the research she has helped conduct in K-INBRE, and she is confident her experiences in the program will aid her as she prepares to pursue medical school after graduation.

“I realize that my career goal is actually attainable,” Smith said, “and practice does make perfect.”

Langston University Quiz Bowl Team


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by Ellie Melero, Media Relations Specialist

The Langston University Quiz Bowl Team will compete in the National Qualifying Tournament of the 35th Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) at Prairie View A&M University this weekend.

HCASC is America’s premier academic competition for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) students. Four-student teams face off in head-to-head competitions and must quickly answer questions about history, science, literature, religion, math, the arts, pop culture, and sports. Langston University is one of 64 teams competing for institutional grants from Honda and a spot in the HCASC National Championship Tournament taking place on the American Honda corporate campus in Torrance, California, April 6-10.

The Langston University team is composed of junior organizational leadership major Christian Mitchell, sophomore biology major Olivia Jenkins, sophomore finance major Charles Bennett and sophomore nursing major Kaitlyn Mitchell. The team is coached by Kyle Gregory, Langston University’s honors program coordinator.

The Quiz Bowl Team has been preparing for this tournament since August. Bringing back their entire roster from the 2022-23 season, the team has competed in tournaments at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas this season. The team has been learning and memorizing facts on topics ranging from Black History to Pop Culture to Science and anything in between.

“To win this tournament would give our team its first tournament championship since 2019 and guarantee them a berth in the National Championship Tournament in Torrance, California,” Gregory said. “This would give our scholars the chance to earn up to $76,000 in grant dollars for the University, should they win the National Championship. As a former player at Langston, I am impressed with the work that this group has put in and I hope it will pay off in Prairie View.”

Aerial shot of the Langston University Langston Campus


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by Ellie Melero, Media Relations Specialist

Langston University and Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens have entered into a partnership meant to enhance the way the Veterans Memorial Gardens honors veterans while also giving students opportunities to gain real-world experience.

The partnership was signed Nov. 11, 2023, and marks a new era in the relationship between the University and the Veterans Memorial Gardens.

“This partnership is an effort to bring Langston University faculty, staff, and students together with members of the Town of Langston and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Alonzo Peterson, the Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Langston University is proud to support this effort to provide recognition, appreciation and resources to veterans in our community.”

Stewart Williams, a Langston native and military veteran, conceived the idea for the Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens in 2011 to find a way to honor all who have served. He broke ground for the Gardens in 2015, began holding Memorial Day services in the Gardens in 2018, and held the grand opening for the Gardens on Oct. 1, 2022.

During that time, Langston University students, faculty and staff from the Departments of Music and Communication have been involved with the Gardens through events such as choir performances and media representation. Additionally, students from various sororities have served as greeters, hostesses, guest registers and servers at the four annual veterans’ appreciation events. These activities will continue, and now the door has been opened for even more involvement from LU students through activities such as volunteer projects and internship opportunities.

“This new agreement encourages both entities to become formal partners in the development of services and program delivery for veterans on campus and in the communities surrounding the University,” Mr. Williams said. “It also allows both the University and the Gardens to pool human and other resources in a collective manner to deliver veteran activities, veteran program awareness, and sustain long-term positive outcomes for veterans on the campus and in the community.”

As the University and the Gardens enter a new year, both institutions intend to work toward their common goal of honoring veterans and providing students with valuable opportunities to develop their skills.

“One of the goals of the partnership is to identify veterans who are students, faculty or staff members to become part of the veterans group that is honored each year,” Dr. Peterson said. “We also encourage the Langston University family to provide their expertise to enhance the operations and programming developed by the Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens on behalf of the US Veterans.”

“We hope this new partnership will enhance the operation and Veterans’ programs developed and delivered by the Gardens; create possible internships for students majoring in horticultural programs or other academic programs offered by the University; provide University students with hands-on experiences to enhance and support their academic coursework; and contribute to the overall success of the Gardens that would not happen without the MOU,” Mr. Stewart said.

Dr Daryl Green


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Ellie Melero, Media Relations Specialist

Langston University hired Dr. Daryl D. Green as the new dean for the School of Business. He began his new position on Jan. 2.

Prior to joining Dear Langston, Dr. Green worked at Oklahoma Baptist University for several years, holding the esteemed Dickinson Chair of Business professorship in the Paul Dickinson School of Business. Dr. Green’s primary research areas are leadership, management, culture and decision-making, and he has taught courses in topics such as system analysis, decision-making, leadership, marketing, project management, social media, strategy, and ballroom and social dancing. His ability to simplify complex concepts in the classroom helped him earn the ACBSP Teaching Excellence Award.

Notably, Dr. Green retired from the Department of Energy in 2016 after more than 27 years in the Environmental Management Program. He managed over 400 projects valued at approximately $100 million.

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. Green holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Southern University in Louisiana, a master’s degree in organizational management from Tusculum College in Tennessee, and a Doctor of Strategic Leadership degree from Regent University in Virginia. He has also completed several advanced graduate studies and certificates from Southern New Hampshire University and the University of Vermont.

Dr. Green is an accomplished academic and an award-winning speaker and author. His works include the textbooks “Impending Danger,” “Small Business Marketing,” and “Life After Retirement” in addition to numerous articles, which have been cited more than 400 times in well-known academic journals. His insights have been recognized by USA Today, Ebony Magazine and the Associated Press.

“My primary objective is to drive significant growth in our Business School,” Dr. Green said. “Over the next decade, my vision is to welcome 1,000 new students into our program. Innovation, adaptation and strategic thinking are essential to propel us toward this milestone.

“Many of our faculty are already champions of student-centered teaching. We will foster this ethos across the board, tailoring educational experiences to meet the unique requirements of today’s Generation Z students. We aim to provide engaging and practical learning that equips them for success in an ever-changing world.”

Chris Kuwitzky Headshot


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Ellie Melero, Media Relations Specialist

Langston University has hired Mr. Chris Kuwitzky to serve as the Vice President for Fiscal and Administrative Affairs – the university’s chief financial officer. He began his new role on Sept. 11, 2023.

Mr. Kuwitzky possesses a wealth and breadth of financial administration experience in both the corporate and higher education sectors. He began his career with Coopers and Lybrand Public Accountants (now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers) in Oklahoma City where he served a wide array of clients in governmental, oil & gas, not-for-profit, and higher education sectors. He would later join the finance staff at the University of Oklahoma in Norman where he rose to the position of Associate Vice President of Administration & Finance and Chief Financial Officer.

After 31 years of service there, Mr. Kuwitzky transitioned to Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, and served as the Vice President of Administration and Treasurer. In this role, his responsibilities included all financial and budgeting operations along with information technology services, the physical plant, human resources, auxiliary enterprises, and oversight of the university police force.

After three years in Topeka, Mr. Kuwitzky returned to Oklahoma to provide financial consulting and contract chief financial officer services to clients, doing business as Live Worthy Financial, LLC.

A native of Oklahoma, Mr. Kuwitzky earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma in 1983 and earned the designation of certified public accountant two years later.

Marching Pride Band Director Mark Gordon


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Ellie Melero, Media Relations Specialist

Langston University Marching Pride Band Director Mark Gordon received an honorary doctorate in philosophy from Leaders Esteem Christian Bible University on Dec. 17.

Mr. Gordon has been the Director of Bands at Langston University since 2018 and he has grown the band to 275 students. Before that, he had more than 20 years of experience directing bands at the high school and collegiate levels.

His career began at M.B. Smiley High School in Houston, Texas, in 1996. There, Mr. Gordon built the band up to nearly 400 students. After 10 years with Smiley High School, Mr. Gordon returned to his alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, to serve as the assistant director of bands for another 10 years. He then served as the director of bands at Charles H. Milby High School in Houston, Texas, before moving to Oklahoma to take up his current post at Langston University.

Throughout his career, Mr. Gordon has remained involved with the surrounding communities at each of his respective schools through band and choir performances, youth outreach, and involvement at church. He believes his work helping students to graduate high school and find ways to pursue college to be among the top reasons he was selected to receive this honor.

“I am honored and I am blessed to be receiving this honorary doctorate of philosophy,” Mr. Gordon said. “I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with so many fine students and musicians over the years, and I am thankful that working with them has made a positive impact.”

Mr. Gordon was nominated by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation of Houston to receive this honor. He received his honorary doctorate at a ceremony in the Sans Souci Ballroom in Tomball, Texas, on Dec. 17.