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The ThunderFellows program, founded by Cedric Ikpo, Ricky Graham, and LaKena Whitley, is a 30-week after-school program located in Greenwood District. The program aims to empower Black youth through mentorship, STEM training, and long-lasting opportunities.

Becoming a ThunderFellow has transformed my life for the better.

I can confirm that the program’s mission statement accurately reflects its goals. When I joined the ThunderFellows program in early October as part of the second high school cohort, I initially questioned whether I belonged. However, as time went on, I found myself fitting in as seamless as a glass slipper.

During my senior year, this program offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the form of a full-ride scholarship at the University of Tulsa. Although I wasn’t selected for this particular scholarship, the recipient who did receive it was undoubtedly deserving.

Photo Courtesy: ThunderFellows

Despite not winning that specific scholarship, ThunderFellows played a significant role in securing another scholarship for me.

Thanks to Cedric Ikpo’s recommendation letter and his suggestion to apply, I was one of four African American seniors to win the NBA G League $10,000 HBCU scholarship for the HBCU of my choice.

Photo Courtesy: ThunderFellows

Additionally, as a member of the ThunderFellows cohort, I have the privilege of participating in a capstone event at the end of the program on June 6.

Ricky Graham, LaKena Whitley, and Cedric Ikpo are why being a ThunderFellow is remarkable.

They ensure that every fellow is well taken care of during their visits and are always available to discuss any matter. While they maintain an open-door policy, their primary focus is on fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and pushing us to reach our full potential.

Coding and piloting are key components taught during different phases of the ThunderFellows program.

At the outset, participants receive instruction in coding using programs such as Python and Thonny, which lay the foundation for understanding coding principles.

Additionally, an exciting event called SpeedFest allows cohorts to represent their work by piloting the aircraft they have designed. Even as someone who doesn’t typically gravitate towards STEM-oriented activities, I must admit this experience was thoroughly enjoyable. 

Considering the remarkable breadth of opportunities offered by the ThunderFellows program, it is evident why aspiring participants eagerly embrace the chance to join. As my time as a ThunderFellow draws to a close, I strongly urge all African-American high school students to seize this incredible opportunity.

For African-American high school students in Oklahoma, becoming a ThunderFellow is a transformative experience that should not be overlooked.

Tanner Frank is a 2023 summer intern for The Black Wall Street Times and a Tulsa, Oklahoma, native and a graduate of Booker T. Washington High Schoo. Tanner will be attending the University of Arkansas...