The Oklahoma City Thunder has selected 26 Black 9th and 10th grade students in Tulsa for its inaugural Thunder Fellows afterschool program.
Thunder Fellows staff members dropped in on students from 11 schools to deliver balloons, Thunder swag and the news that they’d been selected for this year’s class.
“The students were overwhelmed and excited,” said Cedric Ikpo, Thunder Fellows executive director. “It was a true reminder of why we embarked on this journey in the first place.”
The 2021-22 Thunder Fellows class members are: Chameka Anderson, Preiyah Barnes-Frazier, Jace Gafney, and Rhyian Mayberry from Booker T. Washington High School; Bryson Fortenberry from Central High School; Quincy Brown, Reece Robinson, Marvion Weeks from Crossover Preparatory Academy; Siyannah Hadley from Dove Academy; Damarion Bull, Darion Clark, Harmonee Hoskins, and Reon McKnight from East Central High School; Luke Savage from Edison Preparatory High School; Jaya Tarver from Holland Hall; Andre Hawthorne, Christopher Hawthorne, Malachi Jones, Marvenous Moore, and MaKaria Wilson from KIPP Tulsa University Prep; Nyia Green from Muskogee High School; Nzinga Collins, Aniyah Gaines, and Keyon’Dre Penny from Rogers High School; Daniel Ekhoff from Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences; and San’Ya Hall from Union High School.
Founded by the Oklahoma City Thunder and CAA Sports, a division of leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Thunder Fellows is designed to unlock new opportunities in sports, technology, and entertainment for Black students in the Tulsa area.
In addition to the Thunder and CAA, other local and national organizations have joined the effort – including Google, Wilson Sporting Goods, Post Oak Automotive, HBO, NBA, Universal Music Group, Langston University, University of Tulsa, MIT RAISE, Roux Media, Tulsa Debate League, Code.org, and Tulsa Regional Stem Alliance.
During the 30-week program, students will get an in-depth look at a variety of disciplines within Thunder basketball and business operations. Fellows will work on interactive, real-world projects and receive professional coaching from industry leaders nationwide.
Ikpo says initially 20 spots were slated for the first cohort of students. However, the kids were so impressive and committed, the Thunder Fellows selection team decided to open an additional six slots.
“There is no ceiling to their potential,” Ikpo continued. “Each Fellow is investing in themselves by committing to sustained development. They’re already history makers in our book and we’re excited to welcome them to our first ever cohort.”