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Summer Policy Institute Student Testimonials

Selected feedback received via Facebook & email (shared with students’ permission)

I would like to thank everyone for this opportunity. I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you. You have given me the tools to move forward with full power, full action, and full grace in the direction of my purpose. I feel unstoppable!
-Michael Thomas, Masters in Higher Education, Oklahoma State University

Thank you David Blatt and his wonderful team for an invigorating three days that challenged me in many ways and helped form new pathways for fruitful work in the future. I want to say thank you to OKSPI, and thanks for connecting with me to all the students out there. I appreciate being surrounded by students who are open-minded and logical. I look forward to seeing your names in newspapers and headlines in years to come.
-Andrew Steadley, Horticultural Studies major, Tulsa Community College

Thank you to OPI and everyone involved. I highly enjoyed my time, meeting like-minded people, and being reminded that we can work to make our great state even better. I learned so much and, I can’t reiterate this enough, met so many great current and future leaders.
-Kelly High, History and Political Science major, Cameron University

There are events in life that rise above many, this week was one. The opportunity to be with like-minded people has brought to me a great gift. To see that I am not alone in my beliefs, that we can accomplish much change and that we will be the change that needs to happen, this is a moment in time I will not forget. I am inspired by all of you, I am given courage, strength and resolve to continue my walk to my goals. I now have a stronger drive to be the voice for others, and to be the voice for change. Thank you so very much for this wonderful gift. I am a wonderfully happy and satisfied person because of you!
-Mary Newcome-Hatch, Political Science and History major, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

This experience meant the world to me. I was able to connect with people on an intellectual level and have my views respected. The OPI staff was so amazing and supportive, I would go back every year if I could!
-Raquel Conway, Social Work major, Northwestern State University

Thank you to all the financial supporters for allowing myself and the other students this once in a lifetime opportunity! The knowledge, networking, empowerment and friendships gained from this experience will forever be in our hearts and minds. Thank you for believing in us!
-Claudia Vaquera, Masters in Science of Higher Education Leadership, Northeastern State University

Thank you… Thank you…Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to experience this incredible and extraordinary OK Summer Policy institute. I am forever grateful for your kindness. David Blatt and his incredible staff made this experience one that has transformed my life. Without your financial support I would not have been able to attend or meet some of the most influential present and future leaders in Oklahoma.
-Gayle Flynn,  Ed.D Educational Leadership and Policy, Liberty University

As one of those who was able to experience SPI due to the generosity of others, I will never be able to repay those donors for what I gained. Thank you to those who believe in what OK Policy is doing for the state and for believing in me and my ability to contribute to the awesome-ness.
-Alicia Woodrum, Masters in Counseling Psychology, Northeastern State University

The training was insightful and challenging in bringing awareness to Issues central to Oklahoma. The ability to organize and interact with a large crowd of intellectuals and leaders was truly a learning experience.
-Aisha Shah, Doctorate in Public Health, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

I’m such a busy woman these days that when looking at the SPI agenda and seeing most days we would stay until 9pm, I almost counted myself out. I really weighed my participation in SPI again when I realized my son would return home the Saturday before SPI from a 2-month vacation in New Orleans, LA. I really missed my son and knew he missed me too. I knew I wouldn’t be able to spend much time with him while participating but as a parent making a decision like this was all too familiar. So I thought about it, thought about it some more and it would be safe to say I thought about it 99 more times until I left my house that Sunday heading to SPI.

But I must say that all doubt left when I received a handshake and warm welcome from David Blatt and then the welcomes which followed from his staff. I was soon fired up from the legislative introduction given by Demario Solomon-Simmons and was well on my way to feeling more secure in the decision I made to attend SPI. Whether it was the viewing of fellow SPIer Amina Benalioulhaj’s documentary Women Behind Bars, being wowed by the advice and information from panelists of extraordinary backgrounds, speaking with the GREAT staff of OPI or building lasting friendships with fellow SPIers which truly amazed me. I am so thankful that I was chosen for such an AWESOME and INFORMATIVE opportunity. It was the little things the staff didn’t know mattered which mattered the most. The information I learned will be taken back to my community, the agency I serve, the community, parents, and students I serve but most importantly my family. Educating my fiancé and son about the information received over the last four days and how that information will forever change our lives and others. Had I known the impact would make me think so in depth and build a more passionate desire about making changes for the future of everyone but especially my son. I would have never questioned the opportunity given to me and for that I say THANK YOU OK Policy, donors, OU School of Social Work, and OU-Tulsa Professor Dr. Havig. I look forward to a future of advocacy along the side of OK Policy and all SPIers.
-Edith Hall, Masters in Social Work, University of Oklahoma (Tulsa campus)