TWU staff member dedicated to educating, empowering student leaders
Feb. 3, 2022 – DENTON – Texas Woman’s Director of the Center for Student Leadership Lawrencina Mason Oramalu is on a mission to help all TWU students discover and develop the leader within. Although an attorney by training, Oramalu has spent her career working in education, and she understands that effective leadership is needed in all industries and at all levels.
Oramalu was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and discovered at an early age that she wanted to have an impact on policies that promoted equity and inclusion, especially after volunteering with her congressional representative’s campaigns while in high school. Studying political science and policy studies at Rice University seemed to be the perfect way to do it.
“When I started college, my career goal was to become an attorney, so political science and policy studies seemed like a great undergraduate degree to prepare me for law school,” she said. “I believed it would prepare me for a position where I could either develop, evaluate, implement or enforce policies that protected people’s rights and expanded educational and employment access.”
Oramalu also served as president of the Black Student Union at Rice, which helped her better understand the complexity of diversity and shaped her ideas of leadership.
“We all understand diversity that we see, but there are other layers of diversity, and as leaders, we need to be careful not to make assumptions about people,” she said. “You need to be a leader of all the people you represent, and you need to make an effort to listen to everyone in the organization, even if you do not agree or you do not have the resources or authority to respond to all of their concerns. As a leader, you have to remain open to learning about others and learning about yourself, and you have to realize that you do not know everything.”
Oramalu went on to earn her MA in public affairs from the University of Minnesota, where she met one of her mentors, Dr. Samuel L. Myers, Jr., an MIT-trained economist who has done extensive research on discrimination and racial disparities. She worked for him as a graduate assistant at the University of Minnesota’s Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice and in the University’s EEOA Office, where she not only examined disparities but also made recommendations to the agencies and organizations the center worked with.
After earning her JD from William Mitchell College of Law, Oramalu decided to return to the Roy Wilkins Center to serve as associate director, believing it to be a short stop on her legal journey. That stop created a lifelong passion for education and a new career path.
“I thought I was just going to be there for a brief time while I looked for a job in the legal or government field, but I ended up staying there and falling in love with working in education,” she said. “I have always loved school and consider myself a lifelong learner, so I love being on a campus and being involved in helping students with their educational journey. I also believe that education is the great equalizer. Everyone has the potential to learn and excel. Initially, I thought I wanted to be in a position where I was monitoring and enforcing civil rights laws, but then I realized that I did not need to be on the enforcement end to make a difference and that maybe I could also make an impact in education, creating inclusive environments and offering programming that will allow students to fulfill their potential.”
Oramalu also served as the director of multicultural affairs at William Mitchell College of Law; director of equity & diversity for Minneapolis Public Schools; program manager for the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE); and associate dean of educational partnerships for El Centro Community College. In addition, she founded Soar2BMore, which is committed to educating, empowering and equipping people to reach their God-given potential, and published a book, Look Up, Step Up, and Soar: Lessons of Hope, Restoration, and Transformation for Life’s Journey.
Oramalu joined TWU in 2021 to serve as director of the Center for Student Leadership, which is part of the Jane Nelson Institute for Women's Leadership.
“I wanted to work for a place where I am passionate about the mission and share the organization’s goals and values, and TWU’s are completely aligned with mine,” she said. “Everyone I have met at TWU seems to be genuinely interested in helping the students, whether emotionally, socially, academically or professionally.”
Through its programs such as leadership development training and scholarships, the Center for Student Leadership is preparing student leaders who are able to make a positive impact at TWU, in their local communities and in their future professions.
“We want to provide opportunities for students to learn about themselves, learn about others, learn new skills and learn from their experiences and mistakes,” said Oramalu, who draws from her own experience when creating new programs. “I have definitely had some impactful formal and informal learning experiences that have helped shape my life and career, and we hope to be able to directly or indirectly provide impactful learning experiences for students.”
Oramalu also wants all the students who interact with the center to feel the same sense of support and encouragement she received during her academic and professional career, and she believes building partnerships is key to doing so.
“I feel honored to have the privilege to encourage, educate, empower and equip students with the tools and skills to fulfill their leadership potential,” she said. “I value relationships, and I strongly believe in building partnerships with individuals and organizations that share my passion and commitment to education, leadership development and service.”
Throughout her career, Oramalu has sought to prepare the next generation of leaders and change agents, while also being one herself. Fortunately for TWU, she is continuing that mission, and students are all the better for it.
Director of Communications, Jane Nelson Institute for Women's Leadership
Page last updated 11:35 AM, December 2, 2022