Kismet Okyere has lived most of her life with one parent. Her father is incarcerated and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole when Okyere was five years old — leaving her mother to raise Okyere and her older brother. The senior psychology major has taken her experiences and sought out opportunities to be a mentor and beacon of light for others in similar situations.
Early in her life, Okyere, a Center for Academic Success and Excellence (CASE) and McNair Scholar, was a member of the Boys and Girls Club in her hometown of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Her participation there helped her earn nearly $100,000 in scholarships — which made attending a four-year university possible.
“It turned out I got a full ride to anywhere I wanted to go,” she said. “I chose Mizzou because of my high school psychology teacher. She is a Mizzou alumna and the reason I fell in love with psychology in the first place. Plus, they were offering the most in funding compared to the other schools I got accepted into.”
Without the financial burden of college, Okyere has been able to focus on academics and her career path. She is currently a senior at MU with a major in psychology and minors in sociology, social justice and criminal justice. She also has a certification in addiction studies and a multicultural certification.
“I’m really invested in the holistic view of criminal justice like how society impacts it, but also parental relationships, interpersonal relationships and just the person themself,” Okyere said.
Okyere said she wants to do research regarding parent-child relationships and how being affected by the criminal justice system impacts juveniles. She’s applying to graduate programs across the country and hopes to impact change when it comes to the criminal justice system and the children that have been impacted by it.