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White House to honor two young Oklahoma women

Katie Prior
Katie Prior

WASHINGTON _ Two young Oklahomans will be honored at the White House on Tuesday for their "courage and contributions" to their communities.

Among the "champions of change" recognized by the White House 15-year-old Katie Prior, of Oklahoma City, who organized a program in multiple states to train high school trumpet players to play for veterans.

Also named by the White House was Ashley McCray, a Ph.D. student at the University of Oklahoma, who has pushed the university to include instruction about diversity and inclusiveness.

The young women and nine others are scheduled to be honored at an event Tuesday morning. They will hear from some of the top women on the White House staff and from NASA astronaut Serena Auñón.

According to the White House, "In addition to honoring these young people for their courage and contributions, the goal of the event is to inspire girls and young women to recognize their potential for leadership -- as educators, advocates, peer-mentors, artists and entrepreneurs -- and to appreciate that they can be leaders in their own way and in their own style. "

Here are the White House bios of the two Oklahomans:

Ashley McCray, Norman, Oklahoma
Ashley McCray is a Ph.D. student in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine program at the University of Oklahoma, where she specializes in indigenous knowledge, environment and public health in minority communities, race, and science, and the native experience in the university. Ashley is from the Oglala and Sicangu Lakota nations and the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, where she is currently an enrolled tribal member and where she serves her tribe as archivist. Ashley works to ensure her university incorporates inclusivity and diversity in its curriculum. Her work on her own campus has helped inspire a mandatory diversity course for incoming students, and a series of diversity and inclusivity workshops facilitated throughout the school year for faculty, students, and staff.

Katie Prior, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Katie Prior is the 15-year-old founder of the Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps, a non-profit organization that trains, supports, and recognizes high school trumpet players who use their musical gifts to honor military veterans. Katie has recruited and trained trumpet players in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, and Wisconsin who volunteer to sound Taps at military funerals and perform patriotic music at community events honoring veterans. When Katie heard that many veterans’ funerals have an audio recording of Taps, she decided to recruit her friends to see to it that veterans in her community get the live tribute they deserve. She developed the program as her Girl Scout Gold Award and became the council’s youngest awardee in history at the age of 14. She has since grown her organization, held training workshops in Texas and Wisconsin, and created an online training that can be taken by any high school trumpeter across the country. Katie is a trumpet player with Oklahoma Youth Orchestras.

Katie Prior
Katie Prior

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›