The Children’s Learning Center of DeKalb didn’t have to look far to find the newest recipient of their Mandy Derrington Friend of the Child Award. LaMetra Curry, recruitment coordinator for the College of Education, exemplified every criterion they were seeking. In addition to her work recruiting underrepresented students for NIU admission, Curry has an equally meaningful role in the local community that has a tremendous impact on the lives of countless young people.

Three years ago, Curry and her husband Anthony Chatman, set up a local chapter of Safe in My Brother’s Arms (SIMBA), a national youth organization geared toward empowering young black men. Spurred by the overwhelmingly positive response from the DeKalb community, they went on to launch Safe In My Sister’s Arms (SIMSA), a similar organization for young black women. Like SIMBA, the group’s primary objective is to provide positive experiences for members ages 8 to 18, in an effort to promote feelings of self-confidence and self-determination within them. Curry herself serves as an exemplary role model for the girls of SIMSA. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, she eventually left home to attend college in South Dakota before transferring and completing her bachelor’s degree at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Not content to rest on her laurels, she went on to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice five years later. She’s currently pursuing a doctorate at NIU.

In spite of her advanced education, however, Curry is still able to relate to and mentor the girls in her program. Many come from single-parent households similar to the one in which she grew up and often she finds common ground in their past experiences. However, rather than allowing them to feel like victims of circumstance, Curry uses this connection to help empower them.

Each summer, SIMBA and SIMSA host day camps that are wholly funded and conducted by volunteers. Through workshops, talks, and interactive activities, Curry and other team members help show the boys and girls what it means to be good citizens and strong young men and women. Often, the effect of the experience even spreads from participants to other members of their households. According to Curry, the local SIMBA and SIMSA chapters have provided various services to more than 120 families in the DeKalb-Sycamore area.

In spite of the accolades that have been bestowed on her (in addition to her most recent honor, Curry and her husband have also been featured in various local publications), Curry stresses that her work is not about recognition.

“I’m just so grateful that NIU and DeKalb heard my plea and assisted with these projects,” she said. “They really saw my vision and came together as a community.” The inscription on the Derrington Award states that the recipient is being acknowledged “for vision, leadership, and tireless effort on behalf of young children.” And ultimately, for Curry, it’s all about the children.

Originally posted on by Devin


“LeMetra has demonstrated personally that she  goes beyond boundaries.  She a confidant to my wife as well as a trusted friend to myself.  In one of the most important moments of my life she came through.  She walk her talk and without expectation.  She’s tough and sometimes came seem abrasive, but ‘Do Not Judge’ her outer personality.   She’ll do anything to help a person, friend or foe.  My journey gather inspiration by testimonies of others.  She shares her journey freely and inspires my two daughters who are members of SIMSA.  There’s not many men in my life I could count on more than this sister.  She never brags or boasts about what she does.  A beautiful person that actually Love.  Love is an action, and she’s all that a bag of donuts or is that chips.  Again congratulation.   raw28