A teacher’s mentorship influenced OSU student scholar’s journey to OSU
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OSU junior Cayden Ward’s journey to OSU began when she turned to one of her high school teachers for academic and personal guidance after her father passed away her freshman year.
Cayden affectionately calls this teacher her “college compass.” When Cayden felt lost, this teacher offered her the mentorship that she didn’t realize she needed.
“I didn’t have guidance,” she said. “My mom did not go to college. So this teacher was the one helping me apply for scholarships, financial aid and got me involved in Greek life. She continued to instill in me determination and being intentional and consistent with my relationships with others.”
Growing up, both of Cayden’s parents spent time incarcerated. With two sets of twins, the family struggled financially most of her life. Cayden saw college as her gateway to a life with less of those struggles.
“I don’t want to say you have to go to college to be successful, but for me, I knew it was my way out,” she said. “I knew coming to OSU would surround me with people who are going to support me and push me to be a better person not only academically but as a student.”
Her scholarships have made this possible for her.
“Honestly without these scholarships, I don’t know that I would be in college, “ she said. “College is so stressful. Trying to work as well as balance school and health is a difficult task. It would not be possible without them.”
One of Cayden’s motivations to be successful is the ability to one day give in the same way as her scholarship donors. She wants to support students with a story similar to her’s.
“I would give back to kids who come from low income families, kids with a single parent, kids that lost a parent,” she said.
Cayden is involved in many activities and organizations at OSU. She is a member of Chi Omega sorority, and has competed in Miss Black OSU and Miss OKC. The pageants have allowed her to gain support from fellow OSU students where she hopes to spread awareness about safety and being a “college compass” to others.
After college, Cayden would like to be a speech pathologist. She was inspired to help children with their speech after spending a lot of time with her tennis coach’s granddaughter, who was born with a cleft palate. She believes this is a way to make an impact on children’s lives.
“This is a good way I can work with kids and still make a difference,” she said.