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CareerTech Champions 2012 - 2019

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Ada Fire Department (2012)

Together Ada Fire Department and PTC Provide volunteer firefighter training close to home.

Then: Volunteer firefighters needed a way to complete training hours close to home. Partnering with Pioneer Technology Center for training, the Ada Fire Department has

  • Added a donated fire truck and equipment for PTC’s Public Safety Training class.
  • Provided Ada firefighters as instructors.
  • Conducted training in Basic Emergency Responder, First Responder, Emergency Vehicle Driver and Wildland Firefighting Skills.

Now: More than 300 students have completed firefighting training hours.

Andrew Aday (2012)

Andrew Aday plans a career in biomedical engineering after taking mission trips with his father.

Then: A young teen, inspired by going with his dad—a dentist—on medical mission trips to Honduras and Nicaragua. Pioneer Technology Center’s Biomedical Education helped Andrew

  • Gain a better idea of college expectations.
  • See how hospital technology could be improved.
  • Envision a career in biomedical engineering.

Now: A student on the right track, Andrew is well prepared and receiving college acceptances. He is interested in designing easy-to-use medical equipment.

Advanced Massage Studios (2019)

Ponca City couple said CareerTech helped them work the kinks out of their small business idea.

Then: A husband and wife team with little more than an idea for a small business in Ponca City. Gail Gillogly and her husband, Bill, took their idea for a massage therapy business to Pioneer Technology Center, and they were accepted into the incubator program there. The couple opened their business at Pioneer Tech in 2015, and over the next 28 months they were able to establish enough clientele to justify launching the business on their own. Gail said Pioneer Tech’s incubator program offered them

  • Small business seminars.
  • Advice and direction in various fields of expertise.
  • An opportunity to build their client base at an accelerated rate.
  • Low overhead that allowed them to channel more funds toward advertising.

Now: Advanced Massage Studios is open in Ponca City. Gail said she would encourage anyone with a business idea to take advantage of the incubator program. She said it helped turn her dream into reality.

“I can't express how advantageous this program is for anyone wanting to step out into the small business world,” she said. “Everyone we worked with at Pioneer Tech gave us the support to succeed in our venture.”

”Don’t let anyone talk you out of your dreams. Pioneer Tech has helped me make my dream come true. I’m very grateful.”

Gail Gillogly, small business owner

Air Liquide (2012)

Air Liquide safeguards employees with specialized safety training.

Then: Air Liquide, a producer of industrial and medical gases, in need of specialized safety training course for team members across the country. EOC’s Confined Space Rescue training course

  • Helped team members develop the skills to perform rescue activities safely and quickly.
  • Provided hands-on training in the use of ropes, pulleys and rappelling.
  • Taught teams to organize for a quick and successful extraction of survivors in confined spaces.

Now: Air Liquide has a cost-efficient way to train teams, using EOC’s Confined Space Rescue program, and to keep skills current through an annual refresher course.

Aldo Alatorre (2017)

Welding class sparked an interest for high school grad.

Then: An introverted student at Pioneer High School. After graduation, he signed up for welding classes at Autry Technology Center, even though his classmates tried to tell him those classes would be a waste of time. Aldo Alatorre said that waste of time turned out to be his calling. Aldo joined SkillsUSA and was on the state officer team. He said a trip to the national leadership conference taught him about how government works, and he made new friends along the way. In addition, he learned that he loved to weld.

“I look forward to getting up every day and striking that first welding arc,” he said. “It makes me proud to know I have a career where I can excel.”

Aldo says that Autry Tech and SkillsUSA taught him:

  • Welding skills.
  • Leadership and public speaking skills.
  • Customer service and networking skills that allow him to communicate with his customers.

Now: A successful welder working for Rite-Way Construction LLC. Aldo says CareerTech helped him find his passion.

“I use the skills that I learned at CareerTech every day,” he said.

Chris Alvear (2012)

Chris Alvear learns to help himself before he can help others.

Then: A high school dropout on the verge of jail. Chris had no job, no income and, at times, no home. Realizing the trouble his life was in, he turned to South Western Oklahoma Development Authority, a group that promotes workforce development. Chris earned his GED and then enrolled at Southwest Tech as a student while also working as an administrative assistant in the nursing program where he

  • Completed medical terminology, CNA and CPR courses.
  • Gained leadership skills as the president of the Health Career Student Organization.
  • Gained confidence and a desire to help others.

Now: With dreams of attending medical school, Chris is working on his licensed practical nursing certification at SWTC and has been named a Workforce Alumni Honoree by SWODA. He says SWTC and SWODA have opened up the whole world to him, and he wants to pay it forward.

Jesus Arizmendi (2017)

First-generation American breaks traditions while repairing cuts and bruises.

Then: A first-generation American who as a little boy performed first aid on his friends’ cuts and bruises when they were injured. Jesus Arizmendi was always interested in helping people. During his senior year at Alva High School, he enrolled in the health careers certification program at Northwest Technology Center. While enrolled in the health careers program, Jesus:

  • Served as vice president for HOSA, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with health careers education.
  • Was a member of the National Technical Honor Society.
  • Was nominated for the Oklahoma CareerTech Equity Council’s Breaking Traditions Award.
  • Graduated with highest honors.

Now: On track to complete Northwest Tech’s practical nursing program in October, Jesus plans to enter the nursing program at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. He would like to become a nurse practitioner and practice medicine in northwest Oklahoma.

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B-R-B Roofing and Manufacturing (2012)

B-R-B Roofing and Manufacturing creates new markets.

Then: Oklahoma’s premier provider of the standing-seam roof continues with a new generation of products. The 20-year partnership between Indian Capital Technology Center’s Business and Industry Services and B-R-B provides

  • Bid Assistance Training for company employees.
  • Customized training for an existing and expanding industry.
  • The donation of a residential steel roof as a “classroom” learning tool for ICTC students.

Now: Company representatives serve on ICTC Business and Industry Advisory Boards while the tech center provides training for developing new products, solving long-standing problems, and creating new markets.

Will Bailey (2017)

Pontotoc student draws a path from his past to his future with the Chickasaw Nation.

Then: A talented artist who loved drawing and painting as a child. In high school, Will Bailey took a media arts class, where he learned about photo editing and digital illustration software. After school hours, he did custom airbrushing and paint work. His passion for art led him to Pontotoc Technology Center to get additional training. At Pontotoc Tech, Will:

  • Received Adobe certification in Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Developed skills in design, videography and video equipment, digital photography and time management.
  • Competed in the graphic arts competition at the state Business Professionals of America conference.
  • Set up his own freelance logo design business.

Now: The interactive developer for Chickasaw Nation’s training department. He designs booklets, presentations and internal marketing pieces, as well as logos and other promotional materials. His promising new career offers him full health benefits as well as the possibility of career advancement.

Dean Baker (2019)

It's man over machine in this high-tech classroom.

Then: Dean Baker didn’t want to teach the way he’d been taught. The manufacturing-machining technology instructor at Francis Tuttle Technology Center said his instructor gave his students a blueprint and said, “Please write.” The students wrote code, and the instructor made corrections where they were needed.

That was 40 years ago, and today the self-proclaimed G-code guy is teaching his students to write similar G-codes that manipulate machines to perform tasks. But today’s students are working with a high-tech machine powered by the Siemens SINUMERIK 828D control, which is giving his students game-changing skills that employers seek.

The 828D has a conversational feature that teaches students what is happening behind the machines when they push a button. Conversational computer numerical control machines have come about as a result of a shortage of workers qualified to write code.

Baker serves on the SkillsUSA board of directors, and the forward-thinking instructor was recently highlighted in Technical Education Post, a journal for technical, technology and STEM education.

At Francis Tuttle, Dean stresses three things with his students:

  • Safety – the most important lesson he teaches.
  • Being mindful of others and their surroundings.
  • Problem-solving.

Dean said he borrowed his philosophy of teaching from Albert Einstein, who said, “Education is not the learning of facts. It’s rather the training of the mind to think.”

Related content:

Tech Ed Magazine

Jesse Balderson (2012)

Jesse Balderson owns the shop of accomplishment.

Then: An Orlando High School junior trying to avoid taking a science class. The Automotive Technology course as well as the Career Planning Center and the Center for Business Development at Meridian Technology Center helped Jesse

  • Develop an interest and skill in automotive technology.
  • Learn how to diagnose the cause of malfunctions and perform repairs on vehicles.
  • Create a business plan allowing him to obtain a loan, opening his own automotive shop.

Now: Jesse is the owner of Jesse’s Auto Repair in Perry and Morrison with four employees. He also serves as a member of the Automotive Technology Business and Education Council at the Meridian Technology Center.

Mercedes Beebe (2019)

Health care worker had a stethoscope in her hand before her high school diploma.

Then: A Hennessey High School student who enjoyed taking care of people. Mercedes Beebe was pretty sure health care was the right field for her, but before she officially started her career, she wanted to do a test-run. Mercedes said she wanted to get a feel for the nursing environment. She enrolled in the long-term care aide program at Autry Technology Center, where she

  • Received CPR certification.
  • Learned patience in working with others.
  • Received her basic life support certification.
  • Learned health care skills that landed her a part-time job in the nursing field.

Now:Mercedes just finished her junior year of high school, and is already working as a long-term care aide at Cimarron Nursing and Rehab in Kingfisher. After high school, she wants to return to Autry Tech to get her LPN degree.

“The instructors were very helpful while I worked toward my certification,” she said.

Mercedes said it’s important to have goals, to write them down and to stick to them. Her long-term goal is to work in a doctor’s office.

“Remember the little goals it takes to get to the main one,” she added.

”CareerTech is a good place to start a lot of careers.

Mercedes Beebe

Nicole Biddinger (2014)

CareerTech launches Nicole Biddinger into the study of health and disease research.

Then: A biotech engineering course at Tri County Technology Center allowed Bartlesville High School senior Nicole to combine her love of biology and engineering principles. By signing up for TCTC course, which also includes medicine and biosciences, Nicole

  • Confirmed her major in college – biology with an emphasis on health and disease research.
  • Earned an internship at Oklahoma State University in the zoology lab, where she studied the effect of climate change on the genetic evolution of water fleas.
  • Discovered joy in serving others as chapter president of the student organization HOSA while providing a Christmas celebration at a local homeless shelter.

Now: Nicole is continuing her education at Purdue University to study biology-health and disease. Her plans – to attend graduate school and pursue a career in research with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health – include combining her love of science and medicine with the joy she found in helping others.

Kirt Billings (2012)

Deaf since childhood, Kirt Billings’ passion for aircraft mechanics helps him discover the sky’s the limit.

Then: A high school student who had lost his hearing as a young boy with a passion for aircraft mechanics. Metro Tech’s Airframe and Power Plant course helped Kirt

  • Learn by providing an interpreter who also understood the language of aviation and teachers who adjusted teaching styles to accommodate him.
  • Achieve the A&P certification.
  • Receive an internship at Tinker Air Force Base for hands-on learning.

Now: Kirt, the 151st deaf employee hired by Tinker Air Force Base, is now a full-time employee with plans to continue his education and work for NASA or the Boeing Company.

Demetric Bills-Rhone (2012)

Demetric Rhone's dreams reignite at Kiamichi Technology Center leading to multiple degrees and career choices.

Then: Working as many as three part-time jobs while a full-time student with three young children, feeling like her dreams had gone down the drain. Kiamichi Technology Center’s evening Health Careers program enabled Demetric to

  • Earn Certified Nurse Aide, Home Health Aide and Phlebotomy certifications.
  • Obtain employment at Choctaw Memorial Hospital.
  • Gain the confidence needed to continue her education.

Now: After earning a bachelors' degree in Criminal Justice at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a master's degree in social work from Texas A&M-Commerce, Demetric works to complete the Licensed Clinical Social Worker certification.

MonyaMarie Black (2019)

She may be little, but this construction trades student plans to make a BIG impact.

Then: A 64-year-old retired woman from New York. Before retirement, MonyaMarie Black was a self-taught furniture builder who used her carpentry skills to teach low-income women how to build furniture in their apartments. When it was time to retire, she followed a friend's intuition and left the big city. She and a group of families headed west, and MonyaMarie wound up in Oklahoma.

Two years into her retirement, she decided she wasn’t ready to hang up her hammer. She enrolled in the two-year construction trades class at Central Technology Center. At Central Tech she said she

  • Learned the basics of construction trades, and "how to do it right."
  • Learned about OSHA and construction safety.
  • Was part of a team that built a house from the ground up.

“It’s been a great experience to learn from professionals, and I like how hands-on it is,” she said.

MonyaMarie spends her days at Central Tech working alongside high school students.

“They’re very respectful and very helpful,” she said, “but they also let me do the work – even though I may have to waddle to do it because the tool belt weighs more than me!”

Now: MonyaMarie still has another year in the program, but when she finishes, she said, she wants to make an impact on her surroundings.

“There are a lot of houses that can be fixed up here,” she said. “While I’m at Central Tech I would love to come up with a program where we’re not just building one house, but actually have many construction projects around the community.”

Eventually, MonyaMarie plans to build houses for prison detention officers in Jamaica.

”My ultimate goal is to relocate to Jamaica and work with the underserved population there.”

MonyaMarie Black, construction trades student

Peyton Boatner (2018)

Third-generation CareerTecher signs on for career in graphic design.

Then: A single mom who needed a way to take care of her young daughter. No stranger to the CareerTech System, Peyton Boatner was the granddaughter of Roy Boatner, the first director of Kiamichi Technology Center’s Durant campus, and Winona Boatner, an instructor in Kiamichi’s occupational services program. She enrolled in KTC-Durant’s desktop publishing/graphic design career major, where she learned

  • Entry-level design software skills.
  • Office skills that prepared her for the job she has today.
  • The importance of planning ahead.

Her instructor said Peyton has strong creativity skills, and after completing the program she was hired by Sign Depot. There she designed and produced signs and vehicle wraps for the Choctaw Nation, as well as printed materials for numerous businesses in Durant.

Now: Peyton manages a new Durant company called R&R Signs. She also serves on the Business and Education Council for KTC-Durant’s information technology program.

”At KTC-Durant I learned how to push myself harder, to get the job done. And I learned the importance of teamwork, no matter where you work.”

Peyton Boatner

Laynie Boddy (2012)

Laynie Boddy maximizes college credit while still in high school.

Then: As a senior at Altus High School and a graduate of the Business and Computer Technology program, Laynie took advantage of the cooperative alliance between SWTC and Western Oklahoma State College. Southwest Technology Center helped Laynie

  • Earn 36 college credit hours through the BCT program; five scholarships to help pay for college; and an additional nine college credit hours during her junior and senior years in high school.
  • Graduate high school leaving with 45 hours toward her Associate of Applied Science and Associate in Science degrees.
  • Complete the Advanced Administrative Assistant career major.

Now: Laynie plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

Michael Anne Bolene (2016)

MTC Engineering Academy student says SkillsUSA was instrumental in Ivy League success and social metamorphosis.

Then: A social introvert with aspirations of becoming a doctor. While on a mission trip, Michael Anne’s chance encounter with a Meridian Technology Center pre-engineering student spurred her to enroll in MTC’s Pre-Engineering Academy. A hands-on learner, she thrived in that environment. She says CareerTech encouraged her to step outside of her comfort zone, and she has discovered new passions. Through the Academy and SkillsUSA, Michael Anne:

  • Learned about topics such as global water inequality, oil-eating microbes for oil spill cleanups and the use of bacterial enzymes to genetically modify food and other organisms.
  • Gained the leadership skills and professionalism she needed to become a state SkillsUSA officer.
  • Got involved in public speaking and is now able to speak in front of large crowds.
  • Networked with students and employers across the state.
  • Helped create several robots that were successful in competitions.

Now: An Ivy League student in her second year of Columbia University’s chemical engineering program. Michael Anne credited the interdisciplinary approach in her CareerTech engineering classes for the high ACT scores that helped her get into Columbia. After completing her degree she plans to attend medical school and become a doctor, working with an organization such as Doctors Without Borders.

It’s all thanks to her instructors, she says. “By interweaving what we have already learned with what we’re currently learning and finding ways to apply the knowledge through hands-on projects, my instructors make learning difficult subjects seem fun,” she said.

Seth Booth (2012)

Seth Booth, former Canadian Valley Technology student, excels in MIT’s engineering program.

Then: A Tuttle High School senior hoping to broaden his education and be accepted to a top engineering university. Canadian Valley Technology Center’s Pre-Engineering program helped Seth

  • Enroll and excel in Advanced Calculus and Physics I as a freshman at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Score a 32 on the ACT college entrance exam.
  • Open doors of opportunity he didn’t know existed.

Now: Seth is currently a freshman at MIT, working toward a successful career in engineering.

Tanner Bowen (2014)

Biomedical Science Academy feeds Tanner Bowen’s hunger to learn more.

Then: A junior at Weleetka High School with a compelling interest in science. Tanner felt classes offered at his high school would not satisfy his desire to learn, so he enrolled in the Biomedical Science Academy at Wes Watkins Technology Center, where he

  • Gained knowledge in potential career options offered in scientific careers.
  • Acquired a sound foundation of laboratory techniques and procedures he would not have learned in normal high school science classes.
  • Developed critical thinking skills by solving complex scientific questions to real-life problems and diseases.

Now: Because of the experience he gained at WWTC, Tanner won the Fleming Scholar Internship, a competitive scientific research summer internship at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Not only did he spend eight weeks in vascular biologist Courtney Griffin’s lab studying the causes of endothelial cell death during vascular development, but he also formed professional relationships with scientific researchers at the top of their fields. Tanner is now a freshman at Oklahoma Christian University studying cellular and molecular biology.

Kevin Box (2018)

This Bartlesville grad wasn’t upset when his business folded.

Then: A young boy living in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, under Frank Lloyd Wright’s only realized skyscraper, the Price Tower. Kevin Box developed a passion for creativity and enrolled in a graphic design class at Tri County Tech. He graduated from Tri County in 1995 and then worked there as a teaching assistant. After he left Oklahoma for New York, he:

  • Studied graphic design at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
  • Was the youngest member elected to the National Sculptors Guild in 2004.
  • Was recognized by Southwest Art Magazine as one of the top 21 artists under 31 in the Southwest.

Now:A professional artist and sculptor in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is best known for making intricately folded paper forms cast in bronze, aluminum or stainless steel, then finished to recapture the look and lightness of paper.

“I gave up a very successful career in graphic design when I realized I was making landfill trash for a living,” he said. “I wanted to make something more durable.”

The co-owner of Box Studio LLC says all of the studio’s work is 100 percent recyclable, and artists use recycled metal in most of their casting process. The family-owned studio employs more than 100 people directly and indirectly through the sale of artwork.

Kevin’s work is represented in 12 galleries, three museums, more than 20 public art collections and hundreds of private art collections throughout the world, including Ted Turner’s private collection.

See some of Kevin's work!

On his website     On Pinterest     Mountain Living

Anastasia Boyd (2012)

On her own while still in high school, Anastasia Boyd learns professionalism in Business Professionals of America.

Then: A child whose family moved at least every five months following a transient-worker dad. As a junior in high school, 16-year-old Anastasia decided to stop moving with her family. Rogers High School BPA helped Anastasia

  • Learn how to present herself and her ideas.
  • Use professionalism in everyday life.
  • Hone leadership skills as vice president of Rogers High School BPA chapter.

Now: Anastasia is valedictorian of her senior class, battalion commander of the Junior ROTC and vice president of the Student Council. With plans to major in construction management at a university, Anastasia seeks a career in management with a major construction company.

Darren Boyd (2012)

Darren Boyd plays his way to a stimulating career.

Then: An out-of-work machine operator. Darren used stimulus money to enroll in the PC support technician major at Wes Watkins Technology Center where he

  • Pursued a hobby and interest in computers.
  • Learned new skills about the fundamentals of technology, computer repair, network management, and server operating systems.
  • Acquired certification from the PC Support career major.

Now: Darren has a new job with International Game Technology, a design, development and manufacturing company specializing in computerized gaming machines and network systems.

Travis Brorsen and Presley (2012)

Travis Brorsen uses valuable lessons learned in FFA enabling him to be in the right place at the right time.

Then: A former FFA reporter who discovered a passion for acting while in college. FFA provided Travis with

  • Life and leadership experiences at conferences/camps and with local chapters statewide.
  • Public speaking skills learned in competitions.
  • Training to set small goals to achieve big goals.

Now: An actor in California, Travis has been working hard, using skills from CareerTech’s FFA, preparing to be in the right place at the right time. He and his dog, Presley—a brindle boxer—did just that, winning the first title of the new reality television series, Greatest American Dog. They are producing a series of video and books on manners for 2-to-6-year-old children.

Josh Brown (2017)

Francis Tuttle graduate finds love(s) through Pre-Engineering Academy.

Then: A little boy who wanted to know how things work. Josh Brown’s parents said he was always building or inventing something – or taking things apart. He enrolled in Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s Pre-Engineering Academy in high school and said he knew from the start that he wanted to be an engineer. Josh credits his Introduction to Engineering Design class, which exposed him to 3-D modeling. He still loves – and uses – 3-D modeling today. Josh had several career-defining (and life-changing) experiences, including these:

  • Receiving practical, hands-on engineering lessons – programming CNCs, building sophisticated balsa bridges, designing FIRST Robotics robots, etc.
  • Learning to create and deliver precise presentations.
  • Gaining the skills to confidently speak in public.

As a special bonus, he met a friend at a robotics competition who later introduced Josh to his future wife!

Now: A mechanical engineer designing for Allied High Tech Products Inc., a manufacturer and supplier serving the aerospace, government, semiconductor, medical and metallurgical industries. Josh has designed industrial heating and air conditioning systems, flow regulators, pressure relief valves and precision tools. He serves on Francis Tuttle’s pre-engineering advisory committee and is the Oklahoma chairman for the SkillsUSA Principles of Engineering Contest.

”I’m a firm believer that for an engineer to succeed, they need to be a great communicator.”

Josh Brown, mechanical engineer for Allied High Tech Products Inc.

Katherine Burch (2014)

Four-time felon Katherine Burch find success outside prison walls.

Then: A drug addict, in and out of jail, eventually landing in a maximum security prison. The Skills Center staff at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center helped Katherine “clean up the wreckage of her past,” she says, providing her with

  • Certification in distribution and logistics technology
  • Computer fundamentals.
  • A skills portfolio.

Now: Katherine uses her skills in the warehouse at Electro Enterprises in Oklahoma City, where she’s worked for two years. She has 18 college credit hours. She is rebuilding family relationships, has a car, and lives in a duplex. For the first time in a long time, Katherine loves her life.

Jason Burks (2017)

Well-known cinematographer transforms a computer class into movie magic.

Then: A high school student with big dreams of owning his own filmmaking business. Jason Burks says it all started with his computer technology class at Broken Arrow High School. Through that class he competed in Business Professionals of America events and discovered he had a special talent. At just 17 years old, he started his own film company. One of his goals was (and still is) to be as good at marketing and sales as he was at filmmaking. He says BPA

  • Gave him an understanding of marketing objectives.
  • Taught him how to deal with customers in a professional manner.
  • Taught him how to take notes so he could communicate his ideas in an effective way.

Now: At 32 years old, Jason is one of the youngest film directors and cinematographers in the business. His company takes him all over the world, competing with top companies in Los Angeles and New York while taking advantage of Oklahoma’s much lower cost of living.

”[BPA] showed me a way that I could start developing a skill set and a career that didn’t end when I graduated high school. It gave me a lot more purpose, it gave me passion, and I was excited.”

Jason Burks

Tony and Patricia Bustos (2014)

Teen parents take turns to succeed … together.

Then: Two teenagers expecting their first child. Tony and Patricia married, and Tony earned a GED diploma. Taking turns continuing their education at Metro Technology Center, Patricia in accounting, Tony in HVAC, with a goal to open their own business:

  • Patricia learned QuickBooks and business finances while Tony worked in construction.
  • Tony’s training helped him land a job at a commercial air company and earn a contractor’s license.

Now: Nineteen years, two children, and two Metro Technology Centers graduations later, Tony and Patricia Bustos are the proud owners of AB Custom Air in Oklahoma City. The commercial company Tony worked for now refers all residential work to AB Custom Air. Patricia uses her accounting skills to manage the business, while Tony does the service work.

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Caddo Electric Cooperative (2013)

Caddo Electric Cooperative and Caddo Kiowa Technology Center, a power-packed partnership.

Then: A partnership that started in Binger, Okla., in 1968 with Caddo Electric Cooperative when the technology center first opened its doors. The mutually beneficial relationship has provided

  • Safety training for CEC employees.
  • Training of future CEC employees.
  • The opportunity for CKTC students and CEC staff to do a joint radio and web broadcast of the Caddo County basketball tournament.

Now: With 82 employees and reduced accidents and increased safety because of training delivered by CKTC, Caddo Electric Cooperative continues to support CKTC students through scholarships, employment and youth leadership opportunities that affect the service area.

Leslie Cain (2012)

Escaping an abusive marriage, Leslie Cain earns credentials for multiple career paths at Caddo Kiowa Technology Center.

Then: Leslie, with her two children, escaped an abusive marriage and fled to her parent’s vacation home. Leslie enrolled in the Electronics program at CKTC to provide for her family and later retrained for a second career in Child Development. CKTC helped Leslie

  • Place her children in worry-free, on-campus childcare through CKTC’s Early Childhood Development and Services.
  • Earn recognition as an Outstanding Nontraditional CareerTech Student.
  • Obtain an associate degree from OSU Institute of Technology, Okmulgee, in Electronics.
  • Receive on-line training for a new career in child development.

Now: After a successful 10-year career as an electronics technician with Explore Pipeline, University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Mesonet, Leslie wanted a career change. Because of her previous experience with CKTC, Leslie is taking online classes to obtain a Child Development Associate certification.

Kelli Carnes (2012)

In her “dream size” classroom, Kelli Carnes enjoys teaching students excited about science.

Then: A teacher used to a traditional high school classroom of 30-plus students. Metro Technology Center’s Project Lead the Way biomedical science education gives Kelli an opportunity to

  • Provide the rigor of a college course in a “dream size” classroom.
  • Address issues that a teacher in a traditional classroom may have to overlook.
  • Work with students individually.

Now: Every day Kelli enjoys teaching students who are excited about science and focused on learning.

Juan Carillo (2018)

Oklahoma City teenager uses shear talent to get ahead.

Then: His uncle bought him a pair of clippers when he was 14 years old. Juan Carrillo did such a good job cutting his uncle’s hair that he moved on to other family members. By the time he was a high school junior he knew that hair was his passion, and he enrolled in Metro Technology Centers’ cosmetology program. While in the program, Juan

  • Won a gold medal at Oklahoma SkillsUSA.
  • Placed second in the men’s clippering competition during Oklahoma’s first Barbering and Cosmetology Expo hosted at Metro Tech.
  • Maintained a 4.0 grade point average at ASTEC Charter High School.

Now: Starting his senior year of high school at ASTEC and his last year of cosmetology training at Metro Tech.

“I’ve learned skills I didn’t know I was capable of executing,” he said. “I enjoy the feeling of people leaving my chair happy and feeling their best.”

Juan plans to own and operate a barbershop after graduation and licensure.

Case IH Agriculture (2012)

Case IH Agriculture invests in safety training.

Then: Safety training needed for hazardous occupations and operating agricultural equipment. Unique ProHarvest Safety Training, co-sponsored by Case IH Agriculture and GPTC

  • Provides safety training from company experts on top-of-the-line Case IH combines and other brands to increase employability of students.
  • Teaches skills critical to preserving life and preventing severe injuries.
  • Generates donated Case IH equipment for Great Plains Technology Center’s Agriculture and Machinery Repair major, including transmissions and complete engines.

Now: For 16 years, custom harvesters nationwide have come to Frederick for the ProHarvest Kickoff, creating an economic boon for the area. The industry trainers add credibility to the life-saving safety training provided in GPTC’s Agriculture and Machinery Repair component.

CASECO Manufacturing (2013)

Training at CASECO advances productivity and company bottom line.

Then: Established in 1972 as a sheet metal fabrication shop. CASECO, a family owned company is home to the Master Mechanic Series line of heavy-duty crane and service bodies, developed after 30 years of custom body manufacturing experience in the truck body industry. In 2011, the company began using services of NETC Business and Industry Services for.

  • Basic training in 5S and basic lean processes.
  • Address workforce and facility safety issues.
  • Develop and implement a safety and health plan that includes monthly safety meetings, facility safety audits and implementation of all OSHA-written mandated programs.

Now: Since that initial training, NETC has provided 332 hours of lean- and 5S-related training, creating significant changes in the company’s facility layout and process. The company has seen bottom-line improvements and enormous advances in productivity its 93,000-square-foot facility.

Michael Chambers (2012)

Michael Chambers rumbles the database.

Then: A gifted young man uncertain about what direction to take. After graduating from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, Michael started college at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Deciding to return home to Chickasha, he enrolled in the computer information systems course at Canadian Valley Technology Center where he

  • Learned to diagnose, repair and maintain complex computer and network systems.
  • Received his A+ certification, demonstrating competency as an entry-level computer technician, and Net+ certification for mid-level computer technicians.
  • Earned 12 college credit hours.

Now: Michael graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in information systems management. While a student he landed a job with OU’s IT department because of his certifications. A year later, Michael became an intern and was then hired by the NBA basketball team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Working as manager of customer relationship management and database operations for three years, Michael was then recruited to be a systems analyst by Chesapeake Energy Corp. in Oklahoma City.

Charles Machine Works (2013)

Charles Machine Works leans into manufacturing in America.

Then: Partnering with Meridian Technology Center for more than 30 years for safety training, computer skills training, employee development and service on advisory councils for welding and machining programs, CMW – Ditch Witch – needed key personnel project management training for two product lines. The plantwide continuous improvement initiative included training on

  • Lean manufacturing.
  • Programmable Logic Controller training.
  • Department of Transportation regulations awareness training.
  • Conversational Spanish.

Now: Committed to providing American-made products, CMW employs more than 1,300 people in Perry, Okla. Financial impacts from the lean initiative are still being measured, but significant improvements in staff efficiency, inventory reduction and plant layout have already been realized.

Chloeta Fire, LLC (2012)

Moore Norman Technology Center helps Chloeta Fire, LLC fan the flames all the way to the top.

Then: A new company needing assistance. Always knowing what he wanted to do Mark Masters ventured from federal land management to the private sector. Launching Chloeta Fire, LLC. in 2009, the business needed help a year later. Moore Norman Business Development Center helped Chloeta Fire

  • Take advantage of consulting, networking and tax incentives.
  • Move into a technologically advanced, modern facility with access to conference rooms, and office and IT equipment.
  • Train employees through courses at the technology center.

Now: With 12 full-time employees, Chloeta Fire, LLC. specializes in wild fire management and suppression as well as forestry work and mitigation. The company provides high quality apparatus and personnel to federal agencies such as FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state forestry agencies in times of need. In 2012, Mark was named the Small Business Association National Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Paige Christy (2012)

Passion for fire protection burns within Paige Christy.

Then: A Stillwater Junior High and High School student who enjoyed action. Paige played basketball, softball and oboe. She was a captain of the color guard; a member of band, National Honor Society and Beta Club; and president of Stillwater Technology Student Association. Later, as a pre-engineering charter member at Meridian Technology Center she was able to

  • Learn advanced design, drawing, math and science to apply in hands-on situations.
  • Gain independence and respect in a male-dominated class.
  • Participate in a FIRST Robotics team competition.

Now: Paige is a junior at Oklahoma State University, where she is studying fire protection and safety technology. After a summer wildfire burned down her family’s barn and barely spared her home, Paige is now considering a focus on safety engineering. She is a member of the OSU band and color guard and has a summer internship with Marathon Oil Company in Oklahoma City.

Hattie Clark (2012)

Hattie Clark finds advantages through research.

Then: A student at Lone Grove High School on a sophomore tour of Southern Oklahoma Technology Center. Once Hattie saw the classroom setting and advanced experiments taking place in the Biotechnology Academy, she wanted to be involved. Hattie was able to

  • Gain skills such as organization and responsibility.
  • Learn practical lab experience and new information
  • Participate in an internship that turned into a job at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation where she assisted with several research projects.

Now: Majoring in biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma, Hattie has realized her time at SOTC has given her an advantage over her classmates. She has excelled in her lab work and is capable of preparing and organizing assignments. Hattie hopes to attend the University of Oklahoma’s College of Medicine to one day become an emergency room physician.

Climate Craft Inc. (2013)

Climate Craft reduces costs and grows employee base.

Then: An industry leader in the manufacturing of custom air handling units. Three years ago, Climate Craft Inc. needed to reduce labor costs with new employee training to gain a competitive edge in the health care, institutional, pharmaceutical, commercial and industrial markets. Metro Technology Center’s Lean 101 training provided Climate Craft

  • New employees with tools to reduce waste and system defects.
  • Processes to improve productivity, staff morale and customer service.

Now: The reduction in labor costs has allowed Climate Craft to grow 30 percent from an employee base of 143 to 199 in three years. The economic impact of the company’s new employees on the Oklahoma City area equals approximately $1,347,840 in wages.

Osceola "Data" Condulle (2012)

“Data” Condulle’s last-minute decision transformed a shy student into a STEM rock star.

Then: A shy McLoud High School graduate who made a last-minute decision to enroll at Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Project Lead the Way’s pre-engineering. Encouraged by his instructor to apply for a NASA Inspire Program internship, Data says the GCTC Pre-Engineering Academy has provided him with:

  • An opportunity for involvement in GCTC’s FIRST Robotics efforts.
  • Three internships at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, including a simulated mission to Mars.
  • Knowledge to explore an idea of tethering a spacecraft to an asteroid using an ice anchor, catching the attention of scholars at the national level.

Now: As one of three National Project Lead the Way Innova Award winners, Data received a $10,000 cash award. He is currently a student at Rose State College with plans to attend the University of Oklahoma to earn an aeronautical engineering degree.

Myava Cook (2017)

Coincidence or destiny? Myava Cook discovered that she loves -- to cook!

Then: Raised by her grandparents, Myava Cook and her grandmother spent a lot of time in the kitchen. They cooked together every day, and in her grandma’s kitchen, she learned the basics of cooking. It was Metro Tech’s culinary arts program that taught the Spencer High School student the how and why behind cooking. In high school, she competed in the ProStart Invitational at the state and national levels two years in a row, and she received seven scholarship offers to various culinary colleges.

Myava chose Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee and graduated with an associate degree in culinary arts. She interned at the Renaissance Hotel in Tulsa and later worked for the Oklahoma City Thunder, managing two kitchens. She served food for all the suites, including the owners of the Thunder. She went from there to a sous chef position at the Embassy Suites hotel.

Myava visits her Metro Tech South Bryant campus classroom regularly. She says that’s where she learned:

  • The art of fine dining.
  • Culinary techniques.
  • How to create dishes from scratch.

Now: Executive sous chef at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Oklahoma City Downtown Medical Center. She works directly under the executive chef. Her goal is to be an executive chef herself someday and maybe own a small restaurant.

“I love cooking with all my heart,” Myava said.

Cookshack, Inc. (2013)

Cookshack smokes with Pioneer Tech support.

Then: Manufacturing smokers in Ponca City since the early 1960s. In 1992, the award-winning, family-owned smoker manufacturer began its relationship with Pioneer Technology Center, which

  • Provides flexibility in company training and projects.
  • Delivers an executive team management training course and challenging seminars, the “Manager’s Toolbelt.”
  • Conducts safety training for state certification.
  • Assists with engineering support resulting in new product development.

Now: Cookshack is a valuable contributor to the Kay County economy, with a payroll of more than $1.6 million. Other companies in Ponca City following Cookshack’s lead with Pioneer Tech training and services also feel the positive impact.

James Crane (2012)

From inmate to in-charge.

Then: A single parent of two working odd jobs until going to prison for 40 months. After release, James went to DHS for assistance and was referred to the Moore Norman Technology Center HIRE Program to gain skills for employment. The electrical trades course helped James

  • Learn electrical installation, operation and maintenance.
  • Study physics, series circuits and electrical safety.
  • Develop a work ethic required by employers.

Now: James became a model student and is a supervisor at an electrical company, where he earns more than $50,000 a year overseeing a department that earns almost $2 million a month. He regularly shares his story and encouragement with new HIRE clients.

Gina Crawford (2016)

Ex-offender gains job and life skills that change her view of the present and her prospects for the future.

Then: A teenage mom with her first felony conviction at age 18, addicted to drugs and incarcerated numerous times. Gina eventually got connected with the CareerTech Skills Center at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, where she enrolled in the manufacturing, distribution and logistics program. She says the Skills Center staff turned her life around by encouraging her to take advantage of character improvement classes and gain practical job skills.

At Eddie Warrior, Gina learned

  • Basic computer skills that have helped her in her jobs and job searches.
  • Budgeting skills that helped her buy her first house (with cash) and make a down payment on a second one.
  • The benefits of "being nice and keeping a positive attitude."

Now: A welding and coatings inspector for a gas and electric company, working on a natural gas pipeline and making $69 an hour plus expenses. In addition to certification in manufacturing, distribution and logistics, she has received certified welding inspector credentials and is certified by NACE International.

After being told all of her life that she was a dummy, Gina was surprised to learn that she was not. Her instructors helped her prepare for her WorkKeys exams, and Gina said, “They saw some intellectual potential that I didn’t even know I had.”

Alex Cuevas (2019)

CIT student plans to go right to work after high school, with certifications in hand.

Then: n emancipated minor, juggling work, school and extracurricular activities. When Alex Cuevas wasn’t studying or practicing routines for McAlester High School’s marching band, he was taking computer classes at Kiamichi Technology Centers. He enrolled there as a junior, saying he wanted real-life, hands-on experience in a field that would allow him to go straight to work after high school. He was elected class officer in the SkillsUSA organization and

  • Won a bronze medal at the national SkillsUSA competition.
  • Gained a better understanding of how a computer works, what computer networking is and how to work with coaxial and Ethernet cables.
  • Was named outstanding student in computer and information technology.

Alex said competing at SkillsUSA taught him the value of hard work and determination and how they can lead to new opportunities. He plans to compete again this year, vowing to bring home a first-place award.

Instructor Susie Hass described Alex as a very responsible young man.

“He is a true CareerTech champion,” she said. “He is excited about what he is learning and is eager to start working in the computer networking field.”

Now: With all of his activities and responsibilities, Alex has maintained a 4.0 GPA. He will graduate from Kiamichi Tech’s CIT program at the end of the year and will receive the related certifications to help him get a job.

“These skills have given me the confidence to DIY my own computers and networks and help my family and friends with theirs,” he said. “I am ready get to work and start making money!”

”CareerTech is a great experience and a good way to get ready to go right to work after school, or help you better prepare for college.”

Alex Cuevas, CIT student

Cushing Fire Department (2012)

Partnering for EMT Paramedic expands Cushing Fire Department services.

Then: Paramedic training needed to expand fire department services in Cushing and surrounding areas.
The longtime partnership between Central Tech and the CFD has been instrumental in

  • Planning and implementing the EMT-Paramedic program.
  • Allowing students to observe and complete required ambulance-run clinicals.
  • Providing equipment, trucks, instructors and technical support for many firefighter courses.

Now: More than 500 EMTs have been trained during the past 20 years.

Bella Cutruzzula (2018)

Keeping it all in the family: National FCCLA officer follows big sister’s lead.

Then: Her older sister was elected to the National Executive Council of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. All of her friends were involved in FCCLA, and Bella Cutruzzula knew she wanted one of the signature red jackets of her own.

“Being able to watch my sister and see all of the opportunities she had made me want it that much more,” she said.

She didn’t have to live vicariously for long. As a junior at Drummond High School, Bella is now a national FCCLA officer in her own right and says the family and consumer sciences student organization has taught her

  • Time management skills, which she uses in her other high school activities.
  • Organizational skills.
  • Job readiness skills, which helped her land her first job.

Now: National vice president of community service for FCCLA. Bella said she believes students involved in CareerTech organizations acquire skills that not everyone is able to obtain.

“We’re the future leaders of our society” she said, “and I believe being involved in CareerTech education prepares our youth to take on any role.”

After high school, Bella hopes to attend Oklahoma State University and major in pre-med.

Gabi Cutruzzula (2018)

Former FCCLA national officer shared her dream with her younger sister.

Then: A seventh-grade family and consumer sciences student sitting in the audience at FCCLA’s National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California. Twelve-year-old Gabi Cutruzzula said she was inspired by the national officers on stage and dreamed of someday walking onto that stage herself. That dream came true in 2016, when she served as FCCLA national vice president of community service.

“I truthfully think that even today, nearly eight years later, I haven’t felt as inspired as I did at that first conference in seventh grade,” she said.

The Drummond High School graduate credits FCCLA for giving her

  • Self-confidence. She said FCCLA helped her step out of her comfort zone and pushed her to be “the best version of herself.”
  • Passion for service. She is vice president of membership for the largest philanthropic organization on the Oklahoma State University campus, which raised more than $165,000 for Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Foundation last year.
  • Experience with goal-setting.
  • Job skills, including interviewing skills she has used on numerous occasions.

Now: Attending college at Oklahoma State University, majoring in political science (pre-law). She plans to attend law school after graduation. Gabi said, “I credit much of my success in college to FCCLA and my adviser, Brooke Kusch,” adding that the student organization gave her the confidence to set high goals for herself.

”I will never forget how incredibly impactful CareerTech has been on my life.”

Gabi Cutruzzula

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Daltile (2018)

Daltile equips new supervisors with the tools needed to lead.

Then: Founded in 1947 in Dallas, Texas, Daltile is a subsidiary of Mohawk Industries. The company manufactures ceramics, mosaics, porcelain, quarry tile and a variety of stone products at 11 facilities across North America, including one at the Port of Muskogee.

Charged with operating as efficiently as possible, and in competition with the other facilities, Daltile-Muskogee needs front-line supervisors trained to manage, mentor and motivate. Indian Capital Technology Center’s Supervisory Academy teaches supervisors from Daltile and other Port of Muskogee companies like Sintertec/BPI to

  • Communicate expectations clearly and concisely.
  • Solve problems, resolve conflict and manage stress.
  • Delegate, coach and mentor.
  • Build high-performance teams.
  • Manage for high-quality customer service.
  • Reward employees through informal and formal employee recognition programs.
  • Inspire employees to analyze their work and continuously improve.

Now: Daltile uses ICTC’s Supervisory Academy to groom new supervisors so they are equipped to lead others through an ever-changing and increasingly demanding work environment.

“I loved the interaction with new supervisors from other companies,” said Daltile’s Kat Frazier. “The instructor was fun, had great real-world examples and a contagious level of enthusiasm for helping others reach their potential.”

Jordan Danser (2012)

Bookworm Jordan Danser steps out.

Then: A 16-year-old home-schooled student ready to explore his options. The self-proclaimed bookworm stepped completely out of his element by enrolling in the Canadian Valley Technology Center welding program where he

  • “Got a little dirty” learning welding techniques and solving manufacturing challenges.
  • Became a Student Ambassador and competed in SkillsUSA speaking contests.
  • Earned the WorkKeys® Career Readiness Certificate Gold status.
  • Earned 12 hours of college credit.

Now: Jordan was amazed at the opportunities he found so close to home. He earned a score of 30 on his ACT, received $46,400 worth of scholarships and attends the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, where he is studying mathematics with an emphasis in numerical analysis and possible plans to become an engineer. Jordan enjoys telling people about CVTC and the education, experience and relationships he gained that make him a well-rounded individual.

Dylan Davis (2013)

One credit from dropping out, Dylan Davis gets a second chance at Metro Career Academy.

Then: One credit away from being an Oklahoma City area high school sophomore, considering dropping out, getting a GED and minimum wage job. From friends Dylan heard about Metro Career Academy -- a high school at Metro Tech -- and enrolled there and in automotive technology at MTC where he

  • Learned leadership skills by participating in MCA Student Council and the prom committee
  • Was named Student of the Year, earning 20 academic credits in one year.
  • Graduated from high school on time and with skills to begin a career.

Now: Dylan credits his parents who wouldn't let him drop out -- and MCA -- as "the best thing that ever happened to me." Employed as a night stocker at Walmart, Dylan is completing his financial aid package with plans to finish college basics to increase his marketability, then major in diesel and heavy equipment at OSU-IT in Okmulgee or Oklahoma City Community College.

Whitney Devine (2013)

Marketing and leadership skills follow Whitney Devine into her kindergarten classroom.

Then: A Woodward High School sophomore touring the technology center and deciding on electives. A chance to work in and manage the marketing education store at the technology center and also join a CareerTech student organization, DECA, caught her interest. Whitney’s experience at High Plains Technology Center helped her

  • Gain self-confidence and leadership skills through the Superintendent Leadership Class and DECA’s state conference competition.
  • Speak in front of a group using PowerPoint and video production for presentations.
  • Learn financial aspects of being in business and how to work with others.

Now: After graduating from Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Whitney teaches kindergarten for Woodward Public Schools at the Early Childhood Center. She uses PowerPoint in her classroom and is considering video editing as a side business.

Eric Devore (2012)

Eric Devore now has an open road to pursue his interests in the truck driving industry.

Central Technology Center, Drumright

Then: After losing his job, Eric followed a career path that had interested him for a long time. The Professional Truck Driver program at Central Technology Center helped Eric

  • Learn driving and road safety skills and prepare for the Commercial Driver’s License.
  • Complete training quickly, landing jobs with U.S. Express Trucking, then Sinclair Trucking.
  • Earn prestigious awards including 2007 Rookie of the Year, 2009 first-place winner of the Oklahoma 5-axel Championship, 28th best tanker truck driver in the nation and first perfect score on pre-trip inspection since national truck-driving competition began in the 1930s.

Now: Eric has driven cross country in 48 states and Canada, choosing now to be close to home. Specializing in Hazardous Materials Transportation hauling gas and diesel fuel for Solar Transport, Eric earns at least $60-65,000 a year doing exactly what he loves to do and, he says, "That's priceless."

Tue Dinh (2012)

Tue Dinh combines natural math ability with passion for design at Metro Tech, gaining skills for TuDi Production success.

Metro Technology Center

Then: A student whose natural strength in math was leading him toward a career in aerospace engineering while his passion was designing comic books. The Metro Tech graphic design program gave Tue Dinh the opportunity to:

  • Learn at a quick pace.
  • Improve social skills by joining the SkillsUSA design team, Visual Fusion.
  • Expand natural graphic design and photography skills and apply them to business development.

Now: Owner of TuDi Production, Tue provides web development, graphic design, film and photography services to customers while earning a bachelor's degree, majoring in Graphic Design at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Marcus Dixon (2012)

Marcus Dixson goes from protecting to drafting.

Then: A returning veteran ready to continue his education. After graduating from Stillwater High School, Marcus spent a couple of semesters at Oklahoma State University before enlisting in the Oklahoma National Guard. Deployed to Iraq for 18 months in 2003 and another tour of duty in Iraq, Marcus returned home in 2008. He enrolled in the Computer Aided Drafting and Design course at Canadian Valley Technology Center where he

  • Became a member of SkillsUSA and competed in state contests in post-secondary Architectural Drafting.
  • Earned 30 college credit hours.
  • Learned to create products using design, drafting and 3D modeling software.

Now: Marcus graduated from CVTC and earned his associate’s degree in applied science with a CADD option from Redlands Community College. Currently enrolled at the University of Oklahoma majoring in civil engineering, Marcus participates on the steel bridge building team with plans to intern with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and hopes to one day work there.

Allie Dorr (2015)

Cosmetologist combines college and CareerTech as she plans to open her own salon and spa.

Then: An Edmond North High School student who wanted a free haircut. Allie Dorr stopped by a Francis Tuttle Technology Center booth at her school. She says when the recruiter talked about the tech center’s cosmetology program she heard two things: “free training” and “free haircuts on Fridays.” Allie signed up, and that became her Plan A.

She got her cosmetology license a month after high school graduation and then went on to Plan B, in case she “didn’t want to do hair and nails forever.” Plan B was to get a college degree. Plan A was her ticket to get there.

Working as a cosmetologist during college gave Allie:

  • The flexibility to set her work hours around homework and class schedules.
  • The ability to work fewer hours than her classmates because cosmetology paid better than the part-time jobs her friends had.
  • The motivation and drive to work toward her goals and her Plan C.

Now: A graduate of Oklahoma State University with a degree in marketing and a minor in entrepreneurship. The young cosmetologist plans to open her own salon in a few years. She credits her cosmetology instructors for giving her a plan for life after high school and says she’s glad she found something she enjoys, early in life.

“It’s easy to do something you love and not just go to a job,” she said.

Chelsea Dorr (2012)

Chelsea Dorr works to weld the world.

Then: A high school student involved in Skills USA, Business Professionals of America, and National Technical Honor Society at Tri County Technology Center. The Graphic Communications Technology program at TCTC helped Zack

  • Win numerous awards in graphic communications design competitions.
  • Design monthly newsletters, website graphics, and other promotional material.
  • Grow an appreciation and desire to pursue graphic communications as a career.

Now: After graduating from Bartlesville High School, Zack received more than $8,000 in scholarships. This helped him to become a student at Pittsburg State University majoring in Commercial Graphics with a minor in marketing.

Matt Dowling (2012)

Matt Dowling uses skills to work on soldier-less Army robots and “intelligent” designs.

Then: A young man wanting to go back to school to be successful. Tri County Technology Center’s Computer-Aided Drafting program helped Matt

  • Enjoy the challenge of problem solving.
  • Learn advanced skills with various engineering and CAD architecture software.
  • Work with engineers at Emotek, a mechanical and electrical engineering company, helping design and build motors for soldier-less Army robots.

Now: While continuing his education at Tulsa Community College, Matt designs pressure plates and 3D graphics used in oil fields for Tulsa-based Oseco, a manufacturer of intelligent pressure relief systems.

Duncan Machine Products Inc. (2015)

The winds of economic change fuel Duncan Machine Products owners' desire to diversify.

Then: A new business launched from a backyard lean-to shed with two employees and a precision machine in 2007. With primary customers in the oil and gas industry, the company grew quickly. By 2012 after four economic downturns and declining oil and gas work, the owners – looking for other revenue sources – contacted Red River Technology Center and learned about government contracting. With the center's OBAN coordinator in their court the company has

  • Worked through complex government documentation to become a small business, certified woman-owned business and certified HUBZone company.
  • Obtained information on government solicitations for bids and registered with the U.S. System for Award Management.
  • Expanded to include the U.S. Department of Defense as a customer.

Now: Unlike many manufacturers who are forced to lay off employees in hard times, DMP has never done so. In fact, the company has instead grown into a 27,000-square-foot building on five acres with 18 employees and a goal to soon hire up to 25 more.

Steve Dwyer (2014)

Iraq War veteran exchanges tank driving for precision machining.

Then: A returning soldier from Iraq using the GI Bill for career training. A creative, mechanically-minded problem-solver, Steve enrolled in precision machining at Moore Norman Technology Center, where he learned the skills to

  • Win first place in the state competitive machining event at SkillsUSA
  • Place higher in the national event than competitors who had been machining for several years.
  • Land a job after his return from the national competition.

Now: Taking pride in work that is fun and challenging, Steve has grown professionally, moving from a position with oil field equipment company Applied Industrial Machining in Oklahoma City to a position as rock science lab manager at the University of Oklahoma. Working in the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, he creates custom replacement parts for powerful equipment, eliminating the need to buy them on the market at extremely high costs.

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Heather Eccard (2012)

Heather Eccard emerges from life-changing events to change her career path and now helps change the lives of others at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.

Then: A student at the University of Tulsa who, after a series of personal events, changed her career direction. Through the Emergency Medical Technician Training at Meridian Technology Center and Paramedic program at Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center, Heather has

  • Built a healthy portfolio of work experience, based upon new skills learned.
  • Progressed in her career path from work as a nursing assistant and an emergency room tech at Stillwater Medical Center to paramedic at Emergency Medical Services Authority ambulance services in Oklahoma City.
  • Flown as a member of the elite flight medic team with MediFlight, an emergency helicopter transport service, while working on a college degree.

Now: Heather earned a Registered Nursing degree in 2008 from Rose State College and works as an Intensive Care nurse at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.

Seth Eilerts (2014)

Aviation CareerTech graduate plans attempt to break world aircraft record.

Then: A Northwest Classen High School graduate, unsure which direction his life would take. An interest in building vintage motorcycles led him to Metro Tech’s aviation program, where he discovered that building airplanes could lead to a career. After completing that program, Seth:

  • Graduated from Metro Tech’s Aviation Careers Campus and received his airframe and powerplant license.
  • Used earned college credits from Metro Tech to continue his education at Oklahoma City Community College, majoring in pre-engineering.
  • Transferred to the University of Oklahoma, where he is studying aerospace engineering.

Now: Seth is part of an engineering team at the University of Oklahoma where he is a student. They are designing a modification to an aircraft and engine that will enable a piston-powered aircraft set in 1938 to try and break a world altitude record. Seth’s teammates say his hands-on application experience from Metro Tech makes him a valued asset to the team.

Kyle Ensley (2016)

From Wright City to Abu Dhabi, Kyle Ensley's horizons expanded thanks to FCCLA.

Then: TEXT

  • Public speaking and leadership skills.
  • Friendships from all seven Oklahoma officer teams at CareerTech University, many of which followed him into college.
  • Real-world experience outside of the classroom.
  • A love for traveling from leadership conferences and conventions in places like Philadelphia, Chicago, Nashville and Buffalo.

Now: After completing a double bachelor's degree at Oklahoma State University in international business and political science and a Master of Science degree in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Kyle is serving as a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

"If I could advise students about the benefits of CareerTech education, I'd say do it for the leadership and travel opportunities. You develop real world experience outside of the classroom that is fun and rewarding.”

"I am very grateful my instructor encouraged me to become more involved in FCCLA. It was a defining part of my high school experience."

Kyle Ensley
U.S. Diplomat
U.S. Embassy
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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Fair Wind LLC (2014)

Wind turbine washing and cleaning oil rigs and equipment - powered by Fair Wind LLC.

Then: A small, locally owned and operated business for cleaning big wind turbines on wind farms. Founded in 2008 and ready to grow, Fair Wind LLC looked to Great Plains Technology Center's Economic Development Center for training in

  • Bid assistance for government contracting.
  • Business plan development, financial services and human resources.
  • Trademarking, exporting and OSHA training.

Now: With locations in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Montana, Fair Wind LLC provides industrial cleaning and maintenance services to oil and gas and wind companies as an approved government contractor/vendor. The company received the National Small Business Administration and Lawton Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneurs of the Year awards.

Holly Farmer (2012)

Playing around leads Holly Farmer to discover a love for child care.

Then: A Newkirk High School student not knowing what she wanted to do with her life. Interested in taking care of children, Holly volunteered at child care facilities. She enrolled in the early care and education course at Pioneer Technology Center in hopes of discovering a connection. At Pioneer Technology she

  • Learned theories and techniques to plan and present activities that are developmentally appropriate for the age of the children.
  • Took courses in health, safety, nutrition, child development, creative arts and classroom management.
  • Received her teacher assistant and master teacher certification.

Now: Holly’s certifications helped her obtain a job at Ponca City YMCA as a site director for the after school care program. She is a kitchen manager and teacher assistant in the early child care program at Pioneer Technology Center’s Ponca City campus. Holly credits Pioneer Tech for giving her options she may not have thought of on her own.

Godwin Feh (2019)

Nursing grad pledges $5,000 in annual support to his CareerTech alma mater.

Then: A young man living in the Republic of Cameroon, where an estimated 48 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and violent crime is common throughout the country. Godwin Feh left his native Africa to get an education in the U.S. Eventually he enrolled in the practical nursing program at Canadian Valley Technology Center, where he excelled in the classroom.

At CV Tech, Godwin said he was able to escape the despair of his previous life. He

  • Completed the LPN program.
  • Passed his state practical nursing board exam.
  • Developed a hunger for learning, which led to associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing and a master’s degree in business administration.

Godwin has worked as a certified nurse aid, LPN, nurse supervisor, chief clinical officer, director of clinical operations and chief executive. He also obtained his U.S. citizenship.

Now: A health care entrepreneur who founded Cohesive Healthcare Management and Consulting in Shawnee in 2016. He manages 300 employees, providing operations expertise to rural and community hospitals.

Godwin and his wife have begun giving back to CV Tech through an annual pledge of $5,000 to the CV Tech Foundation. CV Tech Nursing Director Lauri Jones said the money will be used to help students overcome various hardships.

”The instructors at Canadian Valley provided me moral support and encouraged me to trust in myself.”

Godwin Feh

Chelsea Fisbeck (2015)

Radiologic technology training and clinicals opened surgical unit doors – and a future – to Chelsea Fisbeck.

Then: A senior at Tuttle High School researching radiologic technology programs around the state. Chelsea's English teacher, who had lived in Stillwater during college, knew of Meridian Technology Center's reputation and suggested she check it out. Chelsea enrolled and while in high school completed prerequisites, then started the fall program, where she

  • Learned to take medical X-ray images for diagnosing medical conditions following physicians' orders and conforming to regulations.
  • Put into practice skills and techniques learning in the classroom at the designated clinical site, McBride Orthopedic Hospital.
  • Was hired as a student radiographer at McBride, passed the American Register of Radiologic Technologist exam and was promoted to radiologic technologist and clinical instructor.

Now: At just 27 years old, Chelsea is the director of medical imaging at McBride Orthopedic Hospital in Oklahoma City. She also serves as an active member of Meridian's Business and Education Council and is instrumental in securing McBride's hospital and clinics as training sites for Meridian students' mandatory surgery, outpatient and emergency room rotations.

"I have no doubt that where I am today is a direct result of the training I received at Meridian. This program opened so many doors for me."

Chelsea Fisbeck
Graduate of Meridian Technology Center, Stillwater
Director of Medical Imaging
McBride Orthopedic Hospital

Phil Fisher (2012)

Phil Fisher receives the information to administrate success at High Plains Technology Center.

Then: An oilfield worker fascinated by computers. Phil decided he wanted a career in information technology. He enrolled in the micro-computer repair course at HPTC where he

  • Learned the fundamentals of technology.
  • Earned his A+ and Net+ certifications.
  • Received real-world experiences and hands-on troubleshooting education.

Now: As an information services network management specialist at the Oklahoma State Department of Health – while still taking classes at HPTC – Phil maintained the network and computers of county health departments and Women, Infant and Children clinics in the Northwest Region. Four years later, when a position for an IT administrator at HPTC became available, Phil got the job. He maintains the HPTC network, computers and audiovisual needs.

Callie Fowler (2014)

Acclaimed chef works to improve school nutrition through state program.

Then: One of seven children, not tall enough to reach the kitchen counter. Experimenting with new recipes and concoctions at an early age, Callie practiced on her many siblings. The culinary arts program at Tri County Technology Center helped Callie

  • turn her culinary interest into an obsession with cooking and flavors.
  • prepare to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
  • earn a spot in CIA’s manager-in-training program as acting sous chef in the American Bounty Restaurant. She honed her craft under legendary Chef Dwayne LiPuma.

Now: In 2011, Callie’s career began as a corporate management trainee for Hyatt. She was promoted to garde manger sous chef at the Hyatt Regency Denver Convention Center, then chef de cuisine of the TusCA Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara in California in 2012. She went on to open several restaurants in California and then in Oklahoma after she returned to her home state. She is now the executive chef of child nutrition for Union Public Schools and a Cooking for Kids chef.

Makenzi Fox (2016)

Makenzi Fox fine tunes entrepreneurial skills to pursue her passions.

Then: A Southmoore High School senior with a passion for dancing who owned several businesses. Moore Norman Technology Center's marketing education/entrepreneurship program and CareerTech student organizations Business Professional of America and DECA provided Makenzi the opportunity to

  • Learn about taxation and employee management.
  • Gain leadership and networking skills and learn self-sufficiency.
  • Develop confidence in working with adults and speaking to groups.
  • Compete on state and national levels.

Now:Makenzi presented to the state lieutenant governor findings from her DECA project, which focuses on financial literacy for high school students. Using multiple academic, departmental and DECA scholarships, this fall she will attend Oklahoma City University Meinders School of Business to major in business and marketing. She then plans to open a local dance studio or work in public relations.

"One of my most memorable DECA moments was going to the International Career Development Conference in Florida my junior year. I was so eager to go that I chose to miss my junior prom to attend. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I made so many memories and met and saw more than 18,000 students that share the same passion for DECA that I do."

Makenzi Fox, Moore Norman Technology Center
Marketing Education/Entrepreneurship; DECA and BPA

Roxann Fox (2012)

Roxann Fox sutures the wounds of the past and operates a new life.

Then: A pre-kindergarten teacher for 10 years wanting to change her life. Following a bad divorce, Roxann became interested in the medical field. Enrolling in the surgical technology course at Central Technology Center Roxann

  • Learned to prepare patients for surgery, set up surgical equipment, cut sutures, and apply dressings.
  • Received instruction on aseptic techniques, basic sciences and patient care.
  • Developed relationships and resources for the future.

Now: Roxann worked at Oklahoma State University Medical Center for a year then registered with Flex Nursing to become a traveling surgery technician, making more than $20 an hour. She returned to CTC is now an instructor in Surgical Technology program.

Mitchell Frey (2013)

Mitchell Frey tackles Pre-Engineering to prevail in college.

Then: An Idabel High School football player that realized academics needed be his first priority. Mitchell’s counselor mentioned the Pre-Engineering Academy at Kiamichi Technology Center. Knowing little about engineering, Mitchell checked it out, liked what he saw, and was accepted into the program where he

  • Learned advanced math and science such as trigonometry, calculus, chemistry and physics.
  • Received hands-on training using labs and equipment.
  • Developed public speaking skills.
  • Realized he wanted to become an engineer.

Now: While interested in mechanical and chemical engineering, Mitchell is attending Oklahoma State University majoring in electrical engineering. Mitchell will pursue an internship this summer to decide where he wants to work after completing his bachelor’s degree. He says the best thing he did in his high school career was deciding to pursue pre-engineering at KTC.

Frontier Electronic Systems, Inc. (2012)

Frontier Electronic Systems' highly skilled employees provide customer service and complex technology products that are out of this world.

Then: In 1973, Frontier Engineering Inc. started with three employees building automated test equipment and electronic instruments. As its products evolved to radar-related and electronic systems for military and intelligence, Business and Industry Services coordinators at Meridian Technology and Autry Technology Centers were there to

  • Conduct skills assessments and training programs for electronic assemblers.
  • Facilitate team building and training for a variety of Frontier departments.
  • Profile positions with ACT WorkKeys to identify potential employees with the right skills for highly specialized jobs.

Now: Frontier Electronic Systems, the core business since1997, employs 125 people in the Stillwater facility, including 55 engineers. They develop products used on satellites, military aircraft, defensive missile systems and U.S. naval ships. FES earns repeat business and awards from its customers—like the Boeing Supplier of the Year Award in 2001, 2005, and 2009.

Frontier Electronic Systems (2015)

Career ready job candidates fit well at Frontier Engineering Electronic Systems.

Then: Meeting military standards and stringent industry requirements, mandatory for customer base. Frontier Electronic Systems was looking for a career-ready job applicant pool for open positions. The FES specialists and human resources director, working in tandem with WorkKeys the job profiler, helped the company

  • Determine the workplace skills and skill levels necessary for job success.
  • Develop and administer the WorkKeys/CRC criteria bringing a knowledge base with practical experience to better screen and evaluate applicants.
  • Allow candidates who did not want to take an assessment to screen themselves out of the hiring process.
  • Save valuable time, money, and resources.

Now: Frontier Electronic Systems has a standard practice for all new electronic assemblers to complete the task list activities through in-house training. Both of these benefits reduced the amount of work for the FES human resources team and secured employees.

Gunner Fullbright (2019)

Graphic designer has been on both ends of the CareerTech delivery system.

Then: He was about to graduate from Okemah High School, but needed to find a class to fill a hole in his schedule. Gunner Fullbright’s counselor told him about the multimedia program at Wes Watkins Technology Center. He wanted to sign up, but it was a two-year program and he was in his last year of high school.

No problem. Gunner challenged himself to complete the two-year program in one year, while serving as state president for the Business Professionals of America. Through BPA and Wes Watkins Tech, Gunner earned his multimedia specialist certificate. He said he also picked up a number of other skills and character traits, including:

  • Public speaking and leadership skills.
  • Proficiency in Adobe and other software programs.
  • Self-confidence.
  • Accountability.

“Through BPA I made new friends and relationships, and it has definitely impacted my life for the better,” he said, adding that one of the friends he made while he was a state officer became his wife. Olivia Fullbright was in biomedical sciences and a member of HOSA, the student organization for health occupations.

Now: Gunner is a full-time graphic designer for Oklahoma CareerTech, as well as a youth minister for his church. He said he uses the skills he learned every day, and in his new position at CareerTech he gets to use those skills to support the system that made his career possible.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to give back,” he said.

”I use my skills professionally, for fun, as a hobby, and to earn a little extra money. But I mostly use them to help people who need them.”

Gunner Fullbright

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Phillip Gaines (2019)

This dad’s new career path is shear genius.

Then: Daughters can be expensive, and Phillip Gaines has four of them. The pharmaceutical rep said his girls liked to have their hair styled a certain way, and the cost of taking care of that hair was astronomical. After working in the pharmaceutical industry for 10 years, Phillip made a 180-degree career shift and enrolled in the cosmetology program at Moore Norman Technology Center. His plan was to save money, but also to bond with his daughters.

“I wanted to be an above-average dad,” he said, adding that helping his daughters with their hair would give him more daddy-daughter time.

“And,” said Phillip, “along with their bonding time, I could actually enhance their looks.”

Before he could get the seal of approval from the girls, he needed to improve his skills. At MNTC, he learned more about his daughters’ hair, but he also learned about:

  • A wide array of products to use on different hair types.
  • Nail care, including how to give manicures and pedicures.
  • The basics of hair color treatments and haircuts.

He has attended several expos and trade show events to learn more about the industry, and has completed numerous internships. He was able to invest in a home salon to practice on his daughters, friends and extended family members in his spare time.

Now: Phillip passed his state board exam in 2019, and is now a licensed cosmetologist. He has developed and established relationships with several Oklahoma salon owners and stylists.

”I like the pampering side of it, more than anything. I love to be able to give people the euphoria and satisfaction they come to a salon for.”

Phillip Gaines, cosmetology student

Garen Martens Manufacturing (2012)

Garen Martens Manufacturing employees update skills in northwest Oklahoma.

Then: Upgrade skills training needed for employees of farm implement company. Business and Industry Services at Northwest Technology Center helped employees of Garen Marten’s Manufacturing

  • Complete training in safety, leadership and motivation.
  • Improve proficiency in computer and manufacturing technology.
  • Take additional courses to expand skill levels.

Now: Garen Martens—one of two companies nationwide that produces the harrow farm implement designed to plow at shallow depths for farming wheat, rice, alfalfa, corn, soybeans and pasture land—continues to contribute to economic growth and development in northwest Oklahoma.

Nick Gassaway (2012)

Nick Gassaway turns dedication and drive into a business at age 20.

Then: A junior at Amber-Pocasset High School with little welding experience yet saw possibilities in the field. The welding program at Canadian Valley Technology Center helped Nick

  • Develop and practice the techniques of welding with shielded metal arc gas metal arc, and gas tungsten arc.
  • Compete as a member of Skills USA in district welding contests and be named Student of the Quarter for his welding class.
  • Earn one of the most difficult certifications - 6G state pipe certification, which combines all structural and pipe welding positions.

Now: Two years after graduating high school, Nick became a self-employed oilfield and pipeline welding contractor with two welding rigs. His company, G's Welding and Fab, travels across the country from Texas to North Dakota.

Shawnquise Gatewood (2018)

High school dropout turns her life around with TDL certification.

Then: A high school dropout, living on her own by the time she was 14 years old. Shawnquise Gatewood was incarcerated on drug-related charges and spent several years at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center. There she decided she wanted something better for her life and enrolled in the Skills Center’s transportation, distribution and logistics program. She also participated in CareerTech’s Employment Strategies for Re-entry workshop.

Joy Thomas, employment/transition coordinator for the CareerTech Skills Centers, said Shawnquise maintains a positive attitude and is serious about making changes to improve her future. At Mabel Bassett, Shawnquise learned

  • How to be on time, “no matter what.”
  • How to operate a forklift.
  • How to present herself to an employer, including how to answer felony questions on applications and in interviews.

Now: Initially hired as a forklift operator, Shawnquise was recently promoted to machine operator at AAD/Flanders in Ardmore, Oklahoma. She says the promotion was due to her work skills and attendance. She received her high school equivalency diploma and says she is looking forward to a successful life outside prison walls.

“If it wasn’t for CareerTech, I wouldn’t have my forklift license,” she said. “CareerTech is the way to go.”

Lynn Gatlin (2012)

Counselor Lynn Gatlin shares her best and brightest students with a pre-engineering program to increase their opportunities.

Then: A counselor at a rural high school without funding for a calculus class. She encouraged students to participate in Central Technology Center’s pre-engineering education program, which

  • Shows students they do not have to be “super scientists” to study engineering.
  • Prepares students for college-level calculus and physics.
  • Gives Davenport High School’s best and brightest students the advanced math and science classes many rural schools cannot offer.

Now: A counselor who eliminates students’ fears of science and math, Lynn helps them get advanced classes in high school so they will have the background to be successful in college.

German, Mick and Nancy and family (2019)

Cushing family has quite a collection of FFA jackets.

Mick German was a third generation dairyman, heavily involved in FFA in high school. In 1975, he served as president of his FFA chapter.

Mick’s wife, Nancy, said she had wanted to enroll in agriculture in high school, but her mother said no, ag was for boys. By the time Nancy was a senior, her mother had softened her stance and allowed Nancy to enroll in FFA as an elective.

Soon, Nancy was showing lambs. Her love of animals grew, and after high school she went to Oklahoma State University, double majoring in animal science and ag education, with a minor in horticulture. After college she received her veterinary technician license.

Later, Mick’s daughter Amy got her own blue jacket. She was involved in FFA in high school, showing sheep and doing public speaking. (Amy’s daughter Destiny has also added an FFA blue jacket to her wardrobe and is showing goats.)

Mick and Nancy’s daughter Leslie joined FFA in eighth grade, competing at the state and national levels in several events. Like her father, she was president of her FFA chapter, serving in 2005-2006. FFA helped her get numerous college scholarships. She received a bachelor’s degree in animal science and ag communications and a master’s degree in ag education. She works for OSU Extension in Okmulgee County as an ag educator.

Nancy said their youngest daughter, Taylor, had no choice but to tag along with her sister, and by the eighth grade she too became involved FFA, raising cattle and chickens. Leadership was in her blood, and she was elected president of her FFA chapter in 2011. Taylor competed at state and national contests like her sister and received a full-ride scholarship to East Central University. She earned a degree in family and consumer sciences.

“Needless to say, FFA played a huge role in our kids’ lives,” Nancy said. She said FFA

  • Taught her children the value of hard work and responsibility.
  • Gave them valuable experience in public speaking and interpersonal communication.
  • Helped them finance their college educations.

“We bleed a little blue each day,” Nancy said.

Mick and Nancy German’s grandchildren

Aaron Gills (2017)

Mason’s future is still muddy, but built on a firm foundation.

Then: A Battiest High School student who says he “didn’t really have a plan.” Aaron Gills said he figured he would take welding, like “every other guy.” Luckily, though, his mother intervened. She thought Aaron would be good at masonry and convinced him to sign up for classes at Kiamichi Technology Center. Despite the adage that mother knows best, Aaron still had a case of the jitters when he got to class.

“I was totally green to it,” he said. “I was nervous as a dog.”

His jitters went away, and he started working through class breaks, coming to class at KTC on Fridays when his high school was closed and working hard. With encouragement from masonry instructor Jeff Dunn, Aaron:

  • Learned the proper way to use a trowel, level and string, as well as how to handle the masonry mud, or mortar.
  • Learned how to lay out a wall so it would be plumb and square.
  • Became the Oklahoma Masonry champion at SkillsUSA two years in a row.
  • Began doing masonry jobs for a local contractor while he was still in high school.
  • Was named Kiamichi Technology Center student of the month as a second-year masonry student, based on his excellent attitude, work ethic, scholarship and talent.

Now: Barely 20 years old, Aaron owns Gills Masonry in Hochatown. He is building fireplaces and foundations for cabins as large as 4,000 square feet. Not only is Aaron keeping busy as a full-time mason, he has had as many as two full-time employees working for him.

And cabins aren’t the only thing Aaron is making. “Making money’s kinda fun,” he said.

His advice to his peers? “If you work hard, you can make something out of your life,” he said.

Camellio Gonzales (2018)

Possibilities beyond the plywood for displaced construction worker.

Then: A form carpenter for an electric company, building pads for air conditioning units. Camellio Gonzales was laid off from his job and decided to go back to school. The Sentinel resident was looking for a career that was interesting and in-demand, and he enrolled at Western Technology Center-Burns Flat to sharpen his carpentry skills. Camellio recently completed the construction technology program, where he

  • Received numerous industry certifications.
  • Received a Silver award on the ACT Career Readiness Certification WorkKeys test.
  • Broadened his carpentry knowledge and learned to use a variety of tools and machinery.
  • Completed safety training.
  • Learned the importance of good math skills for the carpentry profession.

Now: Working on an industrial technology for manufacturing degree at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Camellio said his time at Western Technology Center was “a godsend” because he can now see possibilities beyond the plywood. He is more confident and comfortable using the equipment in his program at SWOSU.

Coty Green (2019)

Auto repair grad has been investing in his retirement since he was 18.

Then: An auto repair student at Northwest Technology Center who didn’t intend to fix cars for a living. Coty Green received state competencies in engine repair, engine performance, electrical repair, HVAC, brakes and steering and suspension before he graduated from Alva High School in 2008. That was to be the end of his involvement with CareerTech. Five years later, he graduated from Northwestern Oklahoma State University with a degree in mass communication.

After college, money called, and Coty went to work in the oilfield. He was soon laid off and was unemployed for several months. He decided to take advantage of his CareerTech background and got a job at a car dealership. Within two years, he said, he was making a “very comfortable salary” in a secure job.

Coty said Northwest Tech and SkillsUSA taught him skills he uses every day, and skills he teaches every day, including:

  • The importance of knowing how to get information.
  • Electrical repair, which helped him get a job at a car dealership.
  • Soft skills that help with employability and life.

“I started a Roth IRA when I was 18 years old,” he said, “thanks to the time we spent learning about personal finance. Best fiscal decision I’ve ever made.”

Now: After five years in the auto repair industry, Coty left the dealership to teach automotive service technology at Chisholm Trail Technology Center.

“Always do your best to plan for the future,” he said, “but don’t be fazed if your plans change.”

Coty has now seen the impact of CareerTech from both sides of the classroom door.

“These are young adults who know what they want to do and are passionate about it,” he said. “If you work with them a little bit and help them in their path to becoming the best in their field, you will have gained a loyal employee who will work hard for you."

”I didn’t plan to use my experiences from CareerTech, but 10 years later I have a great job and use those experiences every day.”

Coty Green, Chisholm Trail instructor

Joel Guthridge, Ph.D. (2012)

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Principal Investigator Dr. Joel Guthridge mentors and provides leadership at Great Plains Technology Center.

Then: A northwest Iowa farm boy who was used to high school science and math classes of five students. He felt underprepared for his first chemistry class of 800 students at the University of Iowa. Through his involvement with CareerTech, Guthridge can

  • Serve on Great Plains Technology Center’s Pre-Engineering and Biomedical Advisory Committees.
  • Help high school students better prepare for college and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics- related areas.
  • Mentor the GPTC Robotics Team.

Now: Guthridge provides leadership to CareerTech’s STEM programs, which use master teachers (often experienced professionals themselves) to help students integrate complex STEM concepts through hands-on learning.

- H -

Danelle Hagan (2012)

Danelle Hagan flies to new heights with education at Gordon Cooper Technology Center.

Then: A struggling mother with a special needs son. Danelle was faced with the challenge of finding trained child care, caring for a sick child and dealing with a broken-down car. Realizing she needed to provide a better life for herself and her children, Danelle enrolled at GCTC in the aviation maintenance technology course where she

  • Learned to service, repair and overhaul turbine engine systems, propellers and fuel systems.
  • Received her certification of achievement in computer fundamentals for Windows XP.
  • Performed sheet metal structural repairs and composite structural repairs.
  • Studied the fundamentals and operations of an airplane.

Now: While at GCTC, Danelle received an internship at the Shawnee Municipal Airport towing airplanes, filing client information and even flying an airplane. She is now a charter sourcing specialist for Sun Country Airlines in New Market, Minn.

Bradley Hall (2012)

Bradley Hall finds his life’s calling at SOTC.

Then: A student with no idea what he wanted to do with his life after high school. Bradley knew he was strong in science but thought the only job opportunity was as a medical doctor. The Southern Oklahoma Technology Center Biotechnology Academy opened doors for Bradley as he

  • Broadened his scientific knowledge through advanced biology, environmental science and microbiology classes.
  • Participated in daily hands-on experiments that helped him learn proper lab technique and skills.
  • Gained independence, responsibility and better organizational skills.
  • Earned a capstone internship with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

Now: Bradley is working on core undergraduate courses at Ardmore Higher Education Center while working full time as a lab assistant at the Noble Foundation. With plans to transfer to Oklahoma State University and major in biology, Bradley would like to pursue a master’s degree and doctorate in plant pathology.

Tyler Hallmark (2012)

Central Technology Center opens gates for Tyler Hallmark.

Then: A high school student who watched classmates competing in Business Professionals of America contests. Deciding to join them in Central Technology Center’s Business and Information Technology course, Tyler

  • Earned 28 hours of college credit while still in high school.
  • Learned to defend a position, gain and keep control of a meeting and win a debate.
  • Developed computer skills, managerial skills and office procedures.

Now: Tyler was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which funds his undergraduate degree at the university of his choice adding up to around $400,000. He served as a policy assistant on American Indian and Alaska Native Education in Washington D.C. last summer and is now a senior at the University of Colorado in Boulder pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communications.

Rakista Hampton (2012)

Rakista Hampton breaks the mold and becomes the first in her family to earn a degree.

Then: A single mother struggling to support her child. DHS referred Rakista to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program at Chisholm Trail Technology Center. She enrolled in the administrative assistant course and

  • Gained high-level technology and managerial skills.
  • Learned proper office procedures, telephone etiquette and the integration of computer software packages.
  • Received an administrative assistant certificate.

Now: The first person in her family to earn a degree of any kind, Rakista graduated from Redlands Community College with an associate degree in general studies and from Southwestern Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in business management. She works at Langston University.

Michael Hapton (2012)

Michael Hapton’s automotive skills transport him to national competition.

Then: Michael’s limited experience in working with vehicles drove him to search for training. After researching other area technical schools offering similar courses, Michael attended MNTC’s Automotive Service Technology program. Moore Norman Technology Center’s AST program helped Michael

  • Work toward the industry-recognized Automotive Service Excellence certification.
  • Earn certification in the Automotive Youth Educational System, a national initiative to grow auto service technicians.
  • Gain technical skills and self-confidence in his career choice.

Now: Michael is a Hyundai Certified Master Technician at AutoMax of Norman. He is one of only 15 technicians in the U.S. selected to compete in the Hyundai Motor America's 2010 National Skills Competition. Michael continues his education at Oklahoma City University and Oklahoma City Community College, working toward a degree in foreign language and considering a degree in education to teach auto service.

James Harber (2012)

Graphic artist James Harber finds a passion that fuels a booming business.

Then: A country kid with five siblings, home-schooled by his mother, with a tight budget and no idea what he wanted to do after high school. A Web design and development program at Francis Tuttle Technology Center quickly became his passion, providing him with

  • Skills to start his own company.
  • Scholarship money through the National Technical Honor Society to pay for tuition and books at the University of Central Oklahoma.
  • Computer experience, career guidance and a chance to test drive a career.

Now: James left UCO with one year of college remaining because his business was thriving. A self-employed graphic artist, James is owner and creative director of Studio FJ. His clients include well-known Oklahoma companies and nonprofits, as well as national businesses such as AT&T Wireless and Hilton Hotels.

Wade Frank Harting (2012)

Skills Center graduate Wade Frank Harting earns licenses in HVAC and electricity while incarcerated and lands 'dream job' upon release.

Then: An offender wanting to develop marketable skills so he could get a job upon release from Lexington Correctional Center. Two programs—Heat, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Electrical Trades—at the CareerTech Skills Center, along with electricity instructor Cecil Wainscott, helped Frank

  • Graduate from the Skills Center, earning both HVAC and Unlimited Electrician licenses.
  • Work, while incarcerated, as a maintenance apprentice—earning enough hours to complete an apprenticeship and take the journeyman test.
  • Realize people were there to support and mentor him as a student, a job seeker and a friend.

Now: Frank is home, living close to his son, in a job he identified early on as his "dream job." A maintenance technician at the Stillwater Medical Center, Frank works in an organization that supports its employees and believes in continuing education so he can work toward his new goal: increasing his knowledge and ability to contribute.

Whitney Heer (2016)

From flight camp to flight school, Gordon Cooper pre-engineering grad is flying high with the U.S. Navy.

Then: An 8-year-old girl who took her first airplane ride at Sooner Flight Academy, a K-12 flight camp that promotes science, technology, engineering and math. When Whitney left camp, she told her mother she wanted to be an airplane pilot. Since that day, she has worked hard to achieve that goal.

Flight camp showed Whitney the importance of science and math in aviation careers. She enrolled in Gordon Cooper Technology Center’s pre-engineering program and joined SkillsUSA, competing with Gordon Cooper’s robotics team. She also competed in extemporaneous speaking at the national level, where she finished in the top 15. After graduation, she enrolled in a naval prep school. Whitney says SkillsUSA and the pre-engineering program gave her

  • A strong math and physics background that helped her get into the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • Problem-solving and time-management skills she used in prep school.
  • Extemporaneous communication skills she used to speak on the fly in her prep school classes.
  • ACT preparation and guidance that helped boost her test scores.

Now: Enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy’s flight school in Pensacola, Florida, and a mentor for Gordon Cooper’s robotics team. Her flight training will start with small aircraft, but her goal is to fly F-18s from aircraft carriers.

Whitney says her instructors were instrumental in her success, helping her manage her career and academic frustrations.

“Mrs. Frerichs kept me going,” she said. “I spent hours after school with her, practicing math problems for the ACT.”

Whitney Heer, U.S. Naval Academy

Hallie Hembree (2017)

West Point freshman has the ball in her court – along with a strong set of nursing skills.

Then: A Norman North High School volleyball player who wanted to be a doctor. She juggled her love of sports with her love of medicine, signing up for the pre-nursing program at Moore Norman Technology Center.

Hallie Hembree topped the 6-foot mark as a junior and soon caught the eye of a recruiter from West Point. Volleyball got her noticed, but hard work and a seven-month application process got her accepted to the U.S. Military Academy with a full scholarship. Hallie said Moore Norman helped her prepare for the rigor of West Point. At MNTC she:

  • Learned high-level medical terminology and anatomy and physiology.
  • Prepared for the American Urological Association certification.
  • Performed direct patient care clinical rotations in ER and wound care settings.

Now: After completing her six-week basic training, Hallie will attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, majoring in either chemistry or life sciences. As a graduate she will serve as a commissioned officer for five years and can then choose to serve four to five years in the Army Reserve or remain in active duty service.

“Being responsible for people’s lives is hard. Moore Norman helped me prepare for West Point because you always have to be on top of your game in a medical setting, and in pre-nursing I had to do that and take everything very seriously,” Hallie said.

Henniges Automotive (2019)

CareerTech partnership is driving force behind auto parts manufacturer.

Then: In the tiny town of Frederick, Oklahoma, Henniges Automotive manufactures parts for companies like GM, Ford and BMW. It’s a thriving company that has been around for four decades. With only 4,000 people living in the blue collar community, however, it has been tough to find enough qualified employees to keep up with the company’s growth.

Henniges recently formed a partnership with Great Plains Technology Center, and together they created an Intro to Manufacturing class that is offered several times a year. Great Plains hosts the class, as well as

  • Helping recruit new students.
  • Providing an instructor for six hours of safety training.
  • Providing teaching assistance for the certification instructor (who had no previous classroom experience).

Working with Great Plains, the novice certification instructor was able to build a class schedule, create a syllabus and make a smooth transition into teaching.

Now: The manufacturing class has helped Henniges reduce both turnover and absenteeism. Having employees who pay for the six-week certification class shows their commitment to the job. It also increases the employees’ knowledge once they’re hired.

”The safety training allows new employees to help maintain the culture of safety expected in the plant.”

Chase Massie, Henniges human resources manager

Kyle Henry (2016)

Wes Watkins' advanced biomedical science labs put Kyle Henry at the head of college lab classes.

Then: Always interested in the sciences. Wes Watkins Technology Center offered what Kyle's home school could not. The Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science Academy gave Kyle an opportunity to perform advanced labs and

  • Break open HeLa cells and dye the chromosomes for microscope observation.
  • Become familiar with aseptic technique and how to safely streak agar plates to grow bacteria.
  • Learn in-depth about biology and anatomy, medical illnesses and interventions to combat them.

Now: Prepared for college laboratory classes, Kyle plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in engineering physics. He may then serve as an officer in the Air Force or continue his education in aerospace engineering or a related field with a desire to one day work at NASA focusing in propulsion physics.

"If someone attends a CareerTech center before college, they will be taught many skills not normally taught. It allows them to have experience more career-related rather than just school-related, which is very good for building a resume."

Kyle Henry, Senior - Moss High School

Jose Hernandez (2012)

Jose Hernandez considers a career in pediatric medicine.

Then: An 8th grade student who liked school and wanted to be a doctor, with a teacher who motivated him to pursue his dream. By enrolling in Canadian Valley Technology Center’s Biomedical Education, Jose

  • Is learning in advanced science classes how the heart and body systems work.
  • Is studying diseases and cures.
  • Realizes he wants to be a pediatrician.

Now: A Mustang High School senior eager to graduate, Jose plans to major in pre-med at the University of Central Oklahoma and then go to medical school at the University of Oklahoma.

Adam Higby (2017)

Vision-impaired machinist sees a bright future after completing CareerTech training.

Then: A young man who had been diagnosed with optic nerve dystrophy at the age of 5, a disease Adam Higby inherited from his grandfather. The disease deteriorates the optic nerve because of poor blood flow. Despite Adam’s vision impairment he wanted to be a machinist, and Francis Tuttle Technology Center worked with NewView Oklahoma to make that happen. NewView Oklahoma is a nonprofit organization that helps vision-impaired individuals through rehabilitation, employment and community outreach. Their staff helped make classes in Francis Tuttle’s precision machining/computer numerical control program more accessible.

Adam was the first vision-impaired student to graduate from the three-year machining program, where he learned:

  • Blueprint reading, basic metallurgy and precision measurement.
  • To operate machines, including horizontal and vertical mills.
  • To operate computer numerical control machine centers.

Now: A full-time machinist for NewView Oklahoma. The nonprofit’s CEO called Adam a “trailblazer.” Adam and his wife have a 5-year-old son.

”Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something. You’ve got no excuse.”

Adam Higby

Richard Hight (2012)

Blending visual art with music, Richard Hight motivates and entertains more than one million people.

Then: An 18-year-old high school sketcher who didn’t know where his passion for art would take him. Gordon Cooper Technology Center’s Drafting and Graphic Design helped Richard

  • Choose the career path best suited for his skills and passion.
  • Learn fundamental design concepts and how to apply his talents.
  • Combine talents, skills and techniques with an education from the Colorado Institute of Art.

Now: During a 12-year stint in advertising, Richard developed a following as he continued to draw on sidewalks in parks. With chalk as his medium, he performs in music-choreographed shows creating 6 by 8 foot pieces of art on stage at churches, conferences and as an opening act for bands. His art is now showcased in museums, private collections, magazines and CDs as well as on ABC, NBC and CBS.

Cecil Hime (2014)

Successful pipeline welder traded five roping steers for his first welding machine.

Then: Didn’t enjoy the academic side of high school. As a 17-year-old high school student, Cecil loved working with his hands and signed up for welding classes at Kiamichi Tech Center in Idabel. He eventually traded five roping steers for his first welding machine. At Kiamichi Tech Center, he learned

  • The techniques of oxyacetylene cutting and brazing.
  • Blueprint reading, layout with related math, inspection, testing, materials, trade terminology and fabrication.
  • Welding safety skills.

Now: An oil-gas industrial field pipe welder currently working in Ottumwa, Iowa. He also owns a longhorn ranch, and his flexible welding schedule allows him to choose when he works on the ranch. According to his brother, Cecil is “one of the happiest people I know,” some years making more money than both of his brothers, who have multiple college degrees.

Ashley Hobbs (2018)

Wind energy graduate wants to work her way up in the field -- WAY up!

Then: An Arnett High School student who was fascinated by the wind turbines she saw on her way to and from school and always wanted to know how they worked. Ashley Hobbs put that curiosity on hold after high school and went to work as a corrections officer and dispatcher in the corrections system. Later, as a single mom, Ashley was looking for a career change and discovered the wind turbine technician program, a Business and Industry Services program at High Plains Technology Center. “The program and the instructors are amazing,” she said. At High Plains, Ashley

  • Learned electrical and hydraulic troubleshooting.
  • Learned the pitch hub systems and turbine systems in general.
  • Received an advanced wind turbine technician certificate.
  • Was named a Wind at Our Backs scholar, receiving a $2,500 scholarship from an organization called Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy.

Now: A wind turbine technician at GE, Ashley not only knows how wind turbines work, she is making sure that they do. Her new job helps her support her two daughters, and she plans to eventually get her associate degree and continue working in wind energy. For some, wind energy may be considered a non-traditional career for a woman, but Ashley says it's one of the best choices she has made.

"Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do as well as the men," she said. "Keep your head up...and prove you can do it."

And that is exactly what Ashley is doing.

”Wind is crucial for our future when it comes to clean energy and power. Wind will always be here.”

Ashley Hobbs, wind turbine technician

Hokett Construction, Inc. (2013)

Hokett Construction seizes opportunity to expand its market.

Then: A family owned and operated business of 37 years serving communities in southwest Oklahoma. When the owner’s son returned from college to run the family business, he met the Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network and business and industry coordinators at Southwest Technology Center who, at little or no company cost, helped him

  • Take advantage of training for safety, fire safety, personal protective equipment and hazardous conditions and staying in compliance with government regulations while working with general contractors.
  • Stay connected with decision-makers and informed about opportunities with local, state and federal requests for proposals and contracts.
  • Save time and money using the SWTC Plan Room to identify prospective projects, print plans and specifications.

Now: Hokett continues to expand its markets and positively affect the state’s economy, keeping tax dollars local by employing local skilled workers.

Jimmy Hollis (2018)

Skills Centers grad chose the right pipeline for success.

Then: The maintenance supervisor at the Oklahoma State Reformatory, who wound up on the inside of the bars for drug trafficking. Jimmy Hollis said he was making a lot of bad decisions in his life at that time, and called his three-year incarceration “the worst thing that ever happened” to him.

Eventually Jimmy started making better decisions, including the decision to enroll in the Skills Center’s plumbing program. He had worked part-time as a plumbing apprentice before he was incarcerated, but even with his background, he said he learned a lot from CareerTech’s self-paced plumbing modules. At Granite Skills Center, Jimmy

  • Completed a 1,050 hour plumbing program.
  • Prepared for the plumbing journeyman exam.
  • Passed the journeyman exam before his release.

Now: Running his own service truck for Andy’s Plumbing in Lawton. Jimmy earns $22.50 an hour, and he even supervises a helper.

“The CareerTech instructors pushed me to succeed,” he said, adding, “I use the skills I learned in the plumbing program every day on the job.”

CareerTech currently offers training at 16 sites across Oklahoma.

”The plumbing program opened my eyes to the shortage of skilled tradesmen.”

Jimmy Hollis, plumbing journeyman

Jessica Huff (2012)

Homeless mother finds HOPE at High Plains Technology Center.

Then: A single mother of two with no family support, homeless and without a car. Jessica turned to Project HOPE at High Plains Technology Center. With the help of Project HOPE, Jessica enrolled in the Medical Office Assistance course where she

  • Learned about office technology and medical office procedures.
  • Gained career training, academic instruction, and life skill training.
  • Acquired the skills and confidence necessary to be a functioning member of society.

Now: Jessica has a full time job as a leasing agent at Briarwood Apartments, a new car, and a home for her young family.

Ridge Hughbanks (2018)

It's back-to-back national offices for Oklahoma FFA.

Then: A freshman at Alva High School, growing up on a farm. It was a natural progression for Ridge Hughbanks to join FFA, but just how far he would go in the CareerTech student organization probably surprised even him. Ridge got involved in FFA at the national level, becoming the second Oklahoman in as many years to be elected National FFA Central Region vice president. Ridge said FFA helped him see how his passions aligned with his future goals. He said FFA gave him

  • More confidence and ability while speaking in public.
  • Organizational skills needed to keep all of his responsibilities in order and to complete them.
  • Social skills for working with or within a group.

As a national officer, Ridge has an opportunity to share his passion for the agriculture industry with students across the country.

Now: A student at Oklahoma State University, majoring in agribusiness/pre-law. He plans to become a litigating attorney and said he wants to continue playing a role on the family farm.

“Everything we do in FFA focuses on developing students who will progress agricultural education and the agricultural industry every year,” Ridge said. “I will strive to ensure students from all backgrounds can take pride in and be excited about their future and the future of agriculture.”

Ridge followed Oklahoman Piper Merritt as Central Region VP.

Listen to Oklahoma Farm Report interview

“Being able to communicate and effectively work alongside individuals, regardless of whether they are high school students or CEOs of major companies, is a skill I know will carry over into every aspect and interaction of my future career.”

Ridge Hughbanks, National FFA Central Region vice president

Emma Hutchison (2018)

Former DECA officer plans to take her leadership skills into the courtroom.

Then: A class dedicated to topics like sports marketing and fashion marketing sounded exciting to the Putnam City North High School student. Emma Hutchison had also heard great things about the DECA advisers at her high school and the strong reputation of their marketing program.

Emma got involved in DECA and later was chosen to serve as Oklahoma DECA president. She said the CareerTech student organization gave her

  • Public speaking skills, which she uses almost daily, both in law classes and advocacy competitions.
  • Leadership skills.
  • An opportunity to travel and meet DECA members from around the world.
  • Confidence about her future.

“I am more confident talking to professors or interviewing for positions because of my experience addressing the Oklahoma DECA membership and staff,” she said.

Emma said CareerTech is unique in that students are learning material in class and applying it outside of the classroom at competitions and other activities.

Now: A college graduate with a B.A. in political science from the University of Oklahoma. She is a law student at George Washington University Law School and plans to practice law in the D.C. area after graduation. Her resume since high school includes serving as an intern for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, an Appropriations Committee intern for the Oklahoma Senate, a legislative intern for the U.S. Senate and a law clerk for the National Association of Attorneys General.

“I would advise young people to take advantage of opportunities early in high school and college to get hands-on experience and gain skills you can use to make yourself stand out as a candidate,” she said.

”Employers should value CareerTech students because they are driven, passionate and skilled students who will become valuable employees.”

Emma Hutchison, law student

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Marcos Ibanez (2019)

Martial arts master moves from self-defense to defending students.

Then: A three-time world champion in martial arts. Marcos Ibanez was a junior at ASTEC Charter High School when he enrolled in the law enforcement program at Metro Technology Centers. He graduated from that program in 2014. Through the Metro Tech program, Marcos

  • Earned law enforcement-related certifications.
  • Was able to network with professionals in the field, which helped him grow in his field.
  • Gained skills and knowledge in law enforcement.

Marcos got his first law enforcement job with Elite Security. When the 19-year-old was guest speaking to new students in his former Metro Tech classroom, he met a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. That individual encouraged him to apply for a security position at the Oklahoma state Capitol, and Marcos soon became the youngest person to work security at the Capitol.

He continued his education after Metro Tech, graduating from OSU-OKC in 2017 with an associate degree in police science.

Now: Marcos continues to network with his contacts. After four years at the state Capitol, he is now a police officer for the Oklahoma Christian University Police Department. He’s working on a bachelor’s degree in emergency responder and administration and plans to graduate in spring 2020.

He said he still has fond memories of his first exposure to law enforcement.

“Metro Tech was an incredible experience,” he said. “I bonded with students from different schools, different cultures and different backgrounds, and we all became like family.”

INTEGRIS Blackwell Regional Hospital (2012)

INTEGRIS Blackwell Regional Hospital and Pioneer Technology Center, a 36-year partnership works to keep Blackwell-area residents healthy.

Then: The 1971 closing of Blackwell General Hospital’s 12-month training school for practical nurses after 20-year tenure in the community. Brand new Pioneer Technology Center opened its Practical Nursing program in 1973 without a campus or supplies. In partnership, the two provided

  • Blackwell Hospital’s classrooms, supplies and on-the-job clinical opportunities for students.
  • Pioneer Tech’s quality instruction to local students.
  • Knowledge and skills taught by a trusted, qualified and readily available staff.

Now: The 36-year partnership between Pioneer Tech and INTEGRIS Blackwell Regional Hospital provides quality health care and great jobs in rural Oklahoma.

Cindy Ivie (2012)

Building the home of her dreams becomes a reality for Cindy Ivie.

Then: A young girl who loved putting things together. With dreams of building her own house, Cindy enrolled in the construction course at Pioneer Technology Center where she

  • Learned skills of design, planning, estimating and construction of a home.
  • Received several awards in SkillsUSA competitions.
  • Developed confidence through being a woman in a man’s field.

Now: After her 2012 graduation and earning her National Center for Construction Education and Research certification, Cindy took several remodeling jobs. She and her husband also purchased 10 acres and are working to build their dream home. During the spring semester of 2014, Cindy begins work at Pioneer Tech as a teaching assistant in the welding program.

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Annette James (2012)

When her life was falling apart, Annette James earned credentials for a successful nursing career in Alaska.

Then: With a business management and high travel background, a 20-year gap since attending school and a 17-year marriage ending in divorce, Annette, mother of three, needed a career change. The Practical Nursing program at Wes Watkins Technology Center helped Annette

  • Realize her leadership potential as a top student and president of the student organization, HOSA.
  • Complete practical nursing training within one year to enter college.
  • Earn an associates nursing degree in one year and complete a bachelor's degree in one more.

Now: After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with two prestigious awards – the Native American Undergraduate of the Year and Native American Student of the Year – and completing a clinical rotation with the Public Health Department, Annette now serves as deputy chief of Public Health Nursing for the state of Alaska.

Dee Jarvis (2012)

Dee Jarvis, Tire Assembly-Mechanical/ Electrical Design Engineer at Goodyear serves as a pre-engineering adviser in hopes of finding “homegrown” engineers.

Then: One of 10 engineers at Lawton’s Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant, the only one from Oklahoma. Working to fill company engineering positions, Goodyear partners with GPTC enabling Dee to

  • Serve on the Pre-Engineering Advisory Committee.
  • Review pre-engineering curriculum and equipment, ensuring the program is up to date with the industry.
  • Provide expanded learning opportunities and engineering experience in areas such as design.

Now: Goodyear provides mentors and internships to actively recruit students from Oklahoma colleges for employment. Dee hopes to hire “homegrown” engineers from the local area who will want to stay with Goodyear in Lawton.

Jeneyco Overhead Door (2012)

Woman-owned Jeneyco Overhead Door expands into commercial and government sectors.

Then: Female overhead door business owner in Harrah, Okla., Leslie Jeney, with plans to expand the business in commercial and government sectors. EOC’s Business and Industry Services helped Jeneyco

  • Link to CareerTech’s Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network for opportunities to bid on government contracts.
  • Develop customized safety training for employees.
  • Venture into the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program for minority and woman-owned businesses, which offers a range of training and services including access to federal contracts.

Now: The alliance with EOC is helping stimulate Harrah’s economy through product sales and employment opportunities for much needed jobs in the area.

Stormy Johnson (2019)

Truck driver training offered financial security and more time with her children.

Then: A single mom who needed a job to support her family. The jobs Stormy Johnson was looking at required a commercial driver’s license, so she signed up for truck driver training at Caddo Kiowa Technology Center. She got her CDL at CKTC, and that license helped her get a job driving a trash truck. It wasn’t her dream job, but it was a start.

Eventually Stormy got an offer for another truck driving job. That job required her to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, and the trash truck had an automatic transmission. She went back to CKTC to get more experience shifting.

CKTC’s truck driver training program and its Work Prep program allowed Stormy to

  • Take a one-week refresher course to get better at driving a standard transmission vehicle.
  • Obtain her HAZMAT certification.
  • Excel in a nontraditional career.

Now: Stormy makes $23 an hour driving for Mulholland Energy. Her new job allows her to be home every night with her children.

Work Prep programs are funded at more than 39 technology center campuses across the state. Work Prep students have an opportunity to enroll in full-time, short-term, niche market or individualized skills training and receive employment services.

”Stormy was one of the swiftest returns on investment for my program.”

Ronda Weaver, CKTC Work Prep coordinator

Colte Julian (2012)

Following a family tradition of joining FFA, Colte Julian started his career in music by singing with the FFA chorus.

Then: Following the family tradition of joining FFA while at Fletcher High School, Colte took the leadership skills and work ethic he learned in Agricultural Education and FFA to

  • Become a member of the National and State FFA Chorus in high school.
  • Give back to the FFA by using his talent to assist in directing the chorus and performing at national and state conventions.
  • Initiate a new career path in music.

Now: Colte performed in Oklahoma! during its centennial run at the Lyric Theater in Oklahoma City. Based out of New York City, Colte has now left the ranks of regional theater and moved to the next step. Currently he is living and performing as a standby Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet at Chicago's Apollo Theatre.

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Kela Kelln (2017)

Former CTSO member and CareerTech intern races toward her dream job as a television producer.

Then: CareerTech education came early for the daughter of an agricultural education teacher in Fairview, Oklahoma. Kela Kelln learned public speaking and interview skills even before she was formally involved in CareerTech student organizations. She was active in both FCCLA and FFA, remaining active with the FFA organization throughout college.

After high school, Kela went to Oklahoma State University and landed a job as an intern for “Oklahoma Horizon,” a television show produced by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. Kela says the teachers and mentors she had in all three of these programs helped shape her into the adult she is today. CareerTech and the CTSOs taught her:

  • Basic life skills such as financial planning, people skills and the importance of a strong work ethic.
  • Interviewing and public speaking skills.
  • Videography skills, script writing and sound editing.

Now: A field producer for World Race Productions, the company that produces the CBS game show, "The Amazing Race." Kela lives in Los Angeles, and her job sends her all around the globe. Her dream is to produce or direct her own television show.

”I can’t speak highly enough of the CareerTech organizations I was involved with in high school,” she said. “I also need to credit ‘Oklahoma Horizon’ for helping me realize I wanted a television career.”

Kela says her younger brother is following her down the CareerTech path and plans to take classes next year in trade and industrial education.

“Everyone should be excited about what they get to do on a day-to-day basis. If people don’t know what they want to do, to they should look into what CareerTech has to offer.”

Kela Kelln, field producer for “The Amazing Race”

David Kelly (2012)

Once unsure of future goals, David Kelly found passion for the health industry through membership in HOSA.

Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City

Then: Transferring high schools, enrolling late, and learning a health class was required. David had no interest in a health-related career, but the only class available to meet the requirement was Health Careers at Francis Tuttle, which required membership in the student organization HOSA. Francis Tuttle and HOSA helped David to:

  • Grow as a leader and become more outgoing by giving speeches.
  • Become State HOSA president and first National HOSA president-elect from Oklahoma since 1992.
  • Find his passion for the health industry, impacting his future plans.

Now: Serving as national HOSA president, David will soon start his senior year at Edmond Memorial High School. He plans to attend college and major in biochemistry with a pre-med option. One day he hopes to be a doctor, possibly in trauma surgery.

Marty Kilgore (2012)

Marty Kilgore’s farming background provides a cool twist at the Blue Bell Creamery in Wagoner County.

Then: A 15-year-old Coweta High School farm kid who landed a job brush hogging for the Texas-based Blue Bell Creamery district office in Broken Arrow. Skills he acquired in the Indian Capital Technology Center machine tool program during high school helped Marty:

  • Become a full-time Blue Bell employee the day after high school graduation and eventually move into management.
  • Realize the importance of working hard and being committed to a job, and doing it right the first time.
  • Learn leadership skills such as how to work and manage people professionally and personally.

Now: Since 2003, Marty has been the general manager of the Blue Bell Creameries, the third largest ice cream company in the nation. Employing 170 workers, the plant is on course to produce more than 60 million units (pints, quarts and half gallons) this year. Under Marty’s leadership, the plant supports many local organizations and hosts several events that bring thousands of visitors to the community every year.

Kingfisher Regional Hospital (2012)

Kingfisher Regional Hospital partners to train skilled healthcare providers.

Then: A pool of skilled healthcare providers needed in a rural Oklahoma area. The partnership between Chisholm Trail Technology Center’s Practical Nursing and Health Careers programs and the local hospital

  • Provides students with clinical space for medical-surgical rotations.
  • Allows students to do observations in physical therapy, radiology, respiratory therapy, and the operating room.
  • Provides scholarships for students and supplies health professionals to help with health fairs, serve as guest speakers and interview as skills panelists.

Now: CTTC graduates work for the hospital as licensed practical nurses and in other positions such as health information management and information technology. Hospital employees serve on advisory committees at the tech center.

Daniel Kinnamon (2012)

Daniel Kinnamon engineers acceptance letters from five military academies.

Then: A promising high school student looking to get the best education. Daniel’s family realized the high advance placement scores at Canadian Valley Technology Center and moved to Mustang so Daniel could enroll in the Pre-Engineering program. Daniel learned to

  • Engineer, test and modify structural, propulsion and robotic projects using advanced math and science principles.
  • Design, build and control complex robots for practical applications and engineering competitions.

Now: Daniel received acceptance letters from all five major military academies in the United States accepting an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Planning to become a naval aviator or a nuclear engineer, at the academy Daniel will earn a bachelor’s degree and a commission into the armed forces. He is then required to serve in the military.

Tiffany Kinsey (2018)

Weightlifter, high school football player, fitness model and welder. This young woman has broken more than a few barriers.

Then: A high school student torn between two vastly different programs at her local technology center. Tiffany Kinsey was interested in taking both culinary arts and welding at Tri County Technology Center. She chose welding because she liked the idea of learning a little about a lot and admitted she didn’t know much about welding -- at least not then.

At Tri County Tech she learned enough about welding to know she liked it, and she learned that she had a passion for the fine detail associated with it. After graduating from high school and Tri County’s welding program, she attended Spartan School of Aeronautics to learn how to X-ray welds. Three years into her career, she was bringing home a six-figure salary. Tiffany said because of Tri County Tech she

  • Discovered a passion for welding.
  • Learned basic welding techniques.
  • Has no college debts.
  • Is highly recruited in the oil and gas industry.

“The teachers are great at Tri County Tech,” Tiffany said. “They are involved in their students’ education and are true role models.”

Now: An advanced ultrasonics technician for Element Integrity in Bartlesville, inspecting pressure valves at plants and pump stations. Tiffany is studying how infrared drones can help look for leaks. She specializes in nondestructive testing and examination.

”CareerTech students are able to get into the industry and find out what they like, what their passions are, and go to work.”

Tiffany Kinsey, Welder
Element Integrity

Todd Kirkland (2016)

Iraq war vet lands his dream job as a family nurse practitioner.

Then: Todd Kirkland joined the Army Reserves to save up for upcoming education expenses. He knew he wanted to pursue a career in nursing and after two combat deployments to Iraq, he enrolled in Mid-Del Technology Center’s practical nursing program. En route to an LPN degree, Todd gained experience in both mental health and medical surgical hospital settings. The CareerTech training was a great introduction to the nursing profession, and allowed him to

  • Enroll in the LPN to BSN program at the University of Oklahoma – Tulsa.
  • Graduate from OU and go to work as a registered nurse.
  • Continue his education in the family nurse practitioner master’s degree program.

Now: A certified family nurse practitioner working for Warren Clinic Urgent Care in Broken Arrow, OK. The journey to his dream job took 12 years, but he says it was definitely worth the time and effort.

“This is the job I envisioned years ago when I was finishing high school.”

Todd Kirkland

Bryan Kitzrow (2012)

Former engineering major Bryan Kitzrow knows the value of preparation for college engineering success.

Then: An unprepared college engineering major who changed majors during his sophomore year to earn degrees in math and education. Teaching math for Central Technology Center’s Pre-Engineering course helped Bryan

  • Provide students with challenging classes in pre-calculus, trigonometry and physics, which are unavailable at some high schools.
  • Instruct students with similar interests and common goals who are college-bound in science and math fields.
  • Realize technology centers are flexible partners with high schools, accommodating students with extracurricular activities.

Now: Bryan makes learning fun while teaching students the key mathematical concepts needed for success as college engineering major.

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Leaders By HEART (2013)

Leaders by HEART take business and industry relationships by the reins.

Then: Anadarko-based Leaders by HEART – a unique partner with Canadian Valley Technology Center. Together they promote excellence for a healthy working environment with business and industry partners. With horse training techniques and interactive dialogue, LBH and CVTC have helped business partners

  • Develop healthy and productive staff and employee relationships
  • Provide an opportunity for advancement and leadership.
  • Address key leadership issues.

Now: More than 300 employees from nine companies and businesses have seen significant positive financial impact and improvement of the relationship culture within the employee base. The training program at CVTC has been delivered locally and statewide. LBH has a worldwide audience.

Amber Lee (2015)

High school student combines medical background with new love of airplanes.

Then: Received her certified nurse aide certificate from Moore Norman Technology Center six months before graduating from West Moore high school. Amber planned to become a physician’s assistant, but a mandatory chemistry test stopped her in her tracks just short of receiving a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Oklahoma. She tried repeatedly to pass the test, but eventually gave up her dream of a medical career and took a year off from school to “evaluate her career options,” she said.

Amber decided to follow her brother’s career path, enrolling in Metro Tech’s airframe and powerplant program. She credits Metro Tech instructor Tim Fannin with giving her the motivation and direction she needed to chart a new career path. Amber

  • Returned to OU, where she graduated in May 2015.
  • Plans to graduate from Metro Tech's A&P program in March 2015.
  • Gained skills in time management, critical thinking, working in groups and laws pertaining to airplanes.
  • Got a job working on jet engines.

Now: Working toward a new career goal as an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, Amber wants to investigate plane crashes. She will join the United States Air Force as a crew chief at Tinker Air Force Base this summer, and in 2017 she plans to start a masters degree program in aviation science or aviation safety.

“I owe a lot to Mr. Fannin,” Amber said. “He expects a lot from me and has given me invaluable career guidance and hands-on experience.”

Adam Lettkeman (2018)

From homeschool to higher ed, pre-engineering grad is building a future for himself.

Then: A boy who loved creating crazy buildings and dragons and spaceships from a pile of Legos. Adam Lettkeman grew up with 10 brothers and sisters. His parents homeschooled him until he was old enough to find a formal outlet for his love of building things, along with his passion for graphic design. He enrolled in Meridian Technology Center’s pre-engineering academy and Project Lead The Way in hopes of channeling his interests into a career path.

Adam was a year younger than his classmates when he started the program, but he quickly became very active, competing in robotics competitions, building model airplanes and more. Adam said the engineering program and the instructors at Meridian Tech

  • Helped him choose architecture as his career path.
  • Fueled his love for creating things, from circuit boards to buildings.
  • Helped him adjust to a classroom setting for the first time and prepared him for college class work.
  • Offered advance math and science classes that he said were more rigorous than some of his college courses.
  • Introduced him to 3D modeling software programs, which are a huge part of his architecture design studios in college.

“My instructor, Debbie Short, helped me not only in the classroom but also in my personal growth,” he said. “I will always remember how much joy she brought to the program and how much she helped me along the way.”

Now: Adam has completed his first three years of a five-year architecture program at Oklahoma State University. He is interning at Guernsey, an Oklahoma City architecture firm, and will take time out from his internship to study in Europe with the OSU College of Architecture. His goal is to work in New York City next summer, accumulating additional internship hours that will apply to his architecture licensure requirements.

”PLTW really kick-started me into believing that my dreams could be accomplished if I set my mind to it.”

Adam Lettkeman

Hailee Lindo (2018)

Carpenter’s daughter learns design from the outside in.

Then: A 16-year-old Piedmont High School student whose father was a framing carpenter. Hailee Lindo said she had been on a lot of building sites with her father. She knew she was interested in houses, but not in building them. Hailee says she wants to be an interior designer, and she enrolled in CV Tech’s construction trades program as a way to get a head start on her career. At CV Tech, Hailee:

  • Is SkillsUSA vice president of the morning chapter.
  • Qualified for the regional SkillsUSA contest in cabinet making.
  • Was named student of the quarter for construction trades.
  • Serves as CV Tech’s student ambassador.

Now: Hailee doesn’t seem to mind being in a mostly male classroom, but she wishes carpentry wasn’t a male-dominated field. She hopes that in the future there are more female framers in the carpentry industry. In the meantime, she’s learning to read blueprints and getting familiar with building codes and inspection regulations. She’ll take this knowledge with her when she goes to college, where she plans to major in interior design.

Porsha Lippincott (2016)

From living in a refrigerator box to repairing airplanes for Tinker Air Force Base, Norman teenager has come a long way.

Then: A homeless high school dropout, living in a refrigerator box and working at Sonic. A counselor at Norman North High School learned of Porsha’s plight and connected her with an independent homeless shelter. She moved into an apartment, went back to school and saved enough money for a dilapidated car to drive to and from school. When that car broke down, she taught herself how to repair it. That motivated her to enroll in Moore Norman’s automotive technician training program after graduation. After completing that program she:

  • Earned her ASE certification.
  • Was referred to the aviation maintenance technician program at Metro Technology Centers.
  • Learned about assistance programs that would help her pay living expenses while she trained at Metro Tech.

Now: A certified aviation maintenance technician, Porsha works at Tinker Air Force Base and is an instructor at Metro Technology Centers’ Aviation Campus. One of her process improvement ideas is already saving Tinker $2.5 million annually, which she considers a small way of paying back for all she has received from CareerTech and others.

See the 2016 Oklahoma Horizon story about Porsha Lippincott

See the 2022 CareerTech story about Porsha Lippincott

Colin Lowe (2012)

Natural communications skills combined with CareerTech leadership and professional development opens global doors for Colin Lowe.

Agricultural Education and FFA
Canadian Valley Technology Center, Chickasha

Then: In fourth grade, Colin was recruiting members and entering public speaking in 4-H. Later FFA sparked his interest in leadership and communications. The Computer-Aided Drafting and Design, Graphic Design and Ambassador programs at CVTC helped Colin

  • Find degree-related opportunities to travel to China, Chile and Washington, D.C.
  • Earn scholarships and an internship for Congressman Frank Lucas.
  • Focus on earning a communications degree, advancing over other students in college classes.

Now: Graduating from Oklahoma State University in May with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications, Colin plans to get a master’s degree immediately then teach agricultural education at the college level. He also plans to keep an eye on the political arena and a possible future run for Oklahoma governor.

- M -

MACH 1 (2015)

Horizontal directional drilling company MACH 1 drills into government contracting.

Then: In 2011 a horizontal directional drilling company needing employee safety training to gain entry into oil refineries. While working with Pioneer Tech's safety staff, company owners were introduced to the Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network coordinator and the 24-hour-a-day Contractor's Plan Room, which has helped MACH 1 owners

  • Learn what is needed to bid on contracts with prospective governmental clients.
  • Gain access to local, state and federal government contracting opportunities.
  • Register with Dunn and Bradstreet and the U.S. System for Award Management.
  • Build an extensive contact database used to pursue new business prospects.

Now: With the drop in oil company contracts, MACH 1 is ready to diversify, bidding on projects for directional drilling such as municipality and county water lines, fiber optics and wind farms. Routine meetings with the OBAN coordinator continue to move the company forward. The company is targeting prospective companies and creating presentations for bid matching while continuing to expand. It is also completing the complex application process for HUBZone certification for approved companies in historically underused business zones.

Andrew Mai (2015)

From tree forts to campus buildings -- Pioneer Tech grad lands job with major construction firm.

Then: A home-schooled student, building tree forts as a kid. Andrew Mai always knew he wanted to work in construction. He enrolled in a half-day residential and commercial carpentry program at Pioneer Technology Center and competed in SkillsUSA events at the state and national levels.

SkillsUSA and the two-year program at Pioneer Tech gave Andrew a leg up in college and in his job search. CareerTech offered Andrew real-world experience, including:

  • Interpreting blueprints and working with CAD.
  • A background in construction framing.
  • Extemporaneous speaking, which helped him with interviews for internships and jobs.

Now: Andrew is an Oklahoma State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in construction management technology. He is a field engineer with Hensel Phelps Construction Co. and will work on the Engineering Education and Research Center at University of Texas at Austin. He says his nurturing parents were instrumental in his success, but former Pioneer Tech instructor Allen Stolhand was also influential.

Andrew said, “Mr. Stolhand taught me about the importance of a good work ethic and attention to detail. He said don’t build anything you wouldn’t want to put your name on.”

Builder's Edge magazine features CareerTech Champion (page 8)

Engineering Education and Research Center at University of Texas at Austin

William Maltbie (2016)

Agricultural education and FFA helped Oklahoma State University student succeed in business and school.

Then: An eighth-grader enrolled in agricultural education. The Burlington High School FFA adviser Travis Bradshaw encouraged William Maltbie to join FFA, which allowed him to travel nationally and internationally. The winner of three national proficiency awards and the 2015 American Star in Agribusiness national championship, William may be the most decorated Oklahoma FFA member on the national level. Agricultural education and FFA helped William

  • Learn how to give back to his community.
  • Learn skills such as machine maintenance, welding, public speaking, taking care of livestock, operating a successful business and interviewing.
  • Develop time management, record-keeping and communication skills, which he says directly correlate to his success in business and school.
  • Travel to Costa Rica to tour farms after winning the FFA Turf Grass Management Proficiency award.
  • Develop and run his own business, Maltbie Lawn Care.

Now: Studying agribusiness at Oklahoma State University, William plans to graduate in May 2016. He operates his own business, Maltbie Lawn Care, and hopes someday to work for John Deere. He also hopes someday to return to run the family farm.

"I have been able to use the skills I have learned to change my life and make something of myself. Not only did I learn skills but also I gained a network of friends and leaders I can rely on."

William Maltbie
Agribusiness Senior
Oklahoma State University

Buzzy Manning (2019)

Her career path took her right back where she started.

Then: A Virginian who wound up in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, after a flat tire left her family temporarily stranded there. Buzzy Manning loved the country, and loved Tahlequah.

Buzzy eventually moved to Tahlequah with her husband and kids, but had a hard time finding a job. She had attended several colleges for drafting and engineering, but said she had always had a passion for technology. Then she heard about the Cisco Technologies program at Indian Capital Technology Center.

Buzzy was the first person to enroll in the class at ICTC, which

  • Taught her how to work with routers and switches.
  • Offered the certifications she needed to get a job.
  • Helped her find a job she loved that also allowed her to travel across the country.

Despite her CareerTech training, the dot-com bust left her again scrambling for work. That's when CareerTech gave her another nudge. A former ICTC instructor called and asked if Buzzy wanted to teach. Back at the technology center where she had studied, she discovered a new passion: teaching. She said she loves inspiring young people.

"I never chose to teach; it chose me,” she said. “You either love it or you don't, [and] I've always loved it."

Now: Buzzy retired from ICTC after 14 1/2 years of teaching. She said she will never stop learning about and sharing information about the technology she taught others.

“I’ll probably always teach,” she said. “I will miss those young people greeting me every day.”

Tahlequah Public Schools has offered Buzzy a part-time job, and she said she has considered teaching night classes at ICTC.

Chad Matter (2012)

Chad Matter switches from accounting to new career in hospitality.

Then: A 1995 Catoosa High School graduate intent on a business career in accounting and banking. His interests changed while employed as an auditor at a Tulsa area hotel chain, and he enrolled in a hotel and lodging program. Tulsa Technology Center’s Hotel and Lodging program helped Chad

  • Combine industry experience.
  • Achieve greater employment potential.
  • Earn certification credentials through the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association.

Now: Chad is working and advancing in the Premiere Hospitality/Hilton organization.

MaxQ Research (2019)

Start-up company receives national grants for space-age technology.

Then: Four scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs operating a business out of Saravan Kumar’s house. They developed a proprietary platform that allowed them to recreate various gravitational environments for space-based research. They pitched the idea to NASA, who suggested they apply that same technology to something with a broader market. That led them to explore what other industries might need the same technology.

In 2012, the group moved its business, MaxQ, into the Meridian Technology Center for Business Development.

Meridian Tech’s business incubator program:

  • Allowed MaxQ to customize its office and lab space to meet development and production needs.
  • Offered coaching on real-life business scenarios.
  • Consulted with the group on market research and establishing a customer base.
  • Helped MaxQ secure grants from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance and the National Science Foundation.

Now: MaxQ has patented the MaxPlus thermal control solution, which allows blood and other biological products such as nerve graphs, bone marrow and stem cells to be transported in precise temperature-regulated pack-outs. MaxQ's lightweight, impact-resistant insulated shipping containers are 10 times more insulating, 20 percent lighter, and 10 times more impact-resistant than Styrofoam.

MaxQ recently received a grant for applied research from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.

About Max Q:

Stillwater’s MaxQ Research is good example of Oklahoma innovation

Tiffany McHenry (2012)

Tiffany McHenry works toward independence by pursuing nontraditional career in auto repair.

Then: A single mom who always tinkered on her own car and was bored with sitting at a desk job. Francis Tuttle’s Automotive Service Technology program helped Tiffany

  • Feel welcome while learning about tool use and shop organization.
  • Learn and pass along skills and new-found independence to her young daughters.
  • Expand her knowledge and professional skill base.

Now: Tiffany is continuing her education to become a highly trusted auto service professional with her own all-female auto repair shop and proving to her daughters that gender doesn’t limit career choices.

Tarence McLane (2019)

Electrical trades program was the spark this offender needed to get his life started.

Then: Two stints in jail and two failed attempts at drug rehab. Tarence McLane was on a downward spiral before he was accepted into the electrical trades technology program at Jim E. Hamilton Skills Center. That program was a game changer for Tarence, giving him the skills he needed to become a residential, commercial/industrial or maintenance electrician. Tarence said at the Skills Center, he learned:

  • Knowledge of basic safety and how to use specialty electrical tools.
  • How to read blueprints.
  • Career readiness skills that helped him get a job after his release.
  • Code and licensing requirements.
  • Residential, commercial, industrial and motor control wiring techniques.

Tarence knew he desperately needed to change his life, and change it he did. Since his release, he has worked as an electrical inspector for Devon Energy and electrical superintendent for both MMR and Quanta Services. He credits his instructor for much of his success.

“Kevin Copeland was a great instructor who took time for his students,” he said.

Now: Tarence is no longer using drugs, and he’s taking care of his wife and children. He has even worked with other Skills Centers graduates to help them get jobs and tools.

“I do my best to give back to the CareerTech program and its students when I have the opportunity,” he said.

Tarence works as an inspector and construction manager for the instrumentation and electrical department at WaterBridge Resources. He oversees the company’s electrical construction contractors in the West Texas oilfields.

”My family and I are so thankful CareerTech was an option for me. It is literally what saved my life.”

Tarence McLane, electrician

Jordan McMasters (2013)

Biomedical Science “MOO”-ves Jordan McMasters to succeed.

Then: A Comanche High School student realizing the one of a kind opportunity available to him. Jordan took advantage of the Biomedical Science Academy at RRTC to challenge himself and prepare for college. In the academy, Jordan

  • Gained in-depth knowledge of the human body, disease mechanisms, major biological themes and mathematical topics.
  • Learned the workload involved in the program which was similar to that in a college setting.

Now: Jordan is a junior at Oklahoma State University majoring in animal science with a biotechnology option. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he plans to obtain a master’s degree in animal nutrition and would like to work in a lab formulating feed rations or working at a cattle feedlot.

Treva McNeill (2016)

From passion to profession, Metro Tech student opens her own flower shop.

Then: A retired TSA agent who described herself as a crafty person, Treva McNeill liked to make floral arrangements and decorations for her family and friends. When she decided to turn her passion into a profession, she enrolled in the horticulture program at Metro Technology Centers. As a student in that program, Treva

  • Won first place in floral arranging at the Skills USA state contest.
  • Learned professional techniques of floral design.
  • Learned the vernacular for floral arrangements and how to purchase supplies.

Now: After graduating from the horticulture program, Treva opened The Floral Chateau, a small flower shop that offers custom and traditional arrangements for all occasions. When a customer requests a certain type of arrangement, Treva knows what she’s doing and what she’s talking about. She plans to continue improving her skills and eventually expand her business to add more employees.

I display my state champion banner to remind myself that with a little bit of passion and love, a person can accomplish anything. Metro Tech gave me the knowledge and skill set to back up my passion and talent.”

Treva McNeill

Jason Meadows (2012)

“100 % Cowboy” Jason Meadows learned to work hard in Calera, Okla. Agricultural Education and FFA.

Then: A 1980's Calera High School student in agricultural education, serving as president of his local FFA chapter. FFA helped Jason

  • Gain leadership skills and win scholarships.
  • Use welding, animal care, plants, farming and equipment skills learned in class to work in construction and farming.
  • Learn how to work hard to make a good living.

Now: As a country-western singer, ranked as first runner- up to “Nashville Star 3,” Jason is best known for his hits, “Big Shot” and “100% Cowboy” and uses his agricultural skills as a hobby.

Piper Merritt (2018)

What started as an “accident" became a passion for Owasso FFA member.

Then: An Owasso eighth-grader with no particular interest in FFA who joined the student organization by accident. A counselor suggested Piper Merritt sign up for agricultural education and she did, not knowing what she was getting into.

“I was hooked after that first day,” she said. “I began getting involved in anything and everything that I could participate in.”

Piper said being involved in a CareerTech student organization

  • Helped her develop a skillset that included leadership and communication.
  • Instilled in her a strong work ethic.
  • Taught her how to work in high-pressure environments.

Piper was elected National FFA Central Region vice president in 2017.

As an eighth-grader, Piper was in the same small group at Oklahoma FFA Alumni Leadership Camp as Ridge Hughbanks. Ridge followed Piper as National FFA Central Region vice president in 2018, the first time two Oklahomans have served back to back since the 1970s.

Now: An agricultural economics major at Oklahoma State University. Piper said her FFA advisers helped her choose her major based on her interest in agricultural policy and government affairs surrounding the agriculture industry.

”I’ve learned through FFA and CTSO involvement that it doesn’t matter where or when you start. Where you are now is the perfect place - just take the next step.”

Piper Merritt

Midwestern Oklahoma Development Authority (2013)

When Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base closed, a window of opportunity opened.

Then: The 1969 closing of Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base and deeding of that property to the city of Clinton led to the creation of an industrial airpark and designated space for recreation, housing and Western Technology Center. Midwestern Oklahoma Development Authority, a public trust, was formed and purchased the 900 housing units in the airpark to support economic growth. MODA

  • Provides financial assistance to not-for-profit organizations in the four-county area.
  • Promotes economic and industry growth in western Oklahoma.
  • Partners with WTC to ensure a workforce pipeline.

Now: Financial assistance provided by MODA for a commercial driver’s license truck driving training program at WTC allows interest-free loans with deferred payments to qualifying CDL-enrolled students. The MODA-WTC partnership allows many area residents to acquire the necessary licenses and skills for jobs readily available in the surrounding area.

Barry Miller (2019)

Tech center grad brought his skills back to his alma mater.

Then: A Broken Arrow High School student who loved art and drawing. In high school, Barry Miller signed up for design classes at Tulsa Technology Center and participated in SkillsUSA. When he realized he could actually make a living doing graphic design, he was hooked. At Tulsa Tech, Barry said he learned

  • Basic networking skills.
  • How to use basic Adobe software, such as Photoshop and InDesign.
  • Career options in the design area.

After completing the design program at Tulsa Tech, Barry enrolled at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology. There, he received his associate degree in graphic design technology and also met his wife.

Now: A graphic design specialist at Tulsa Technology Center. Barry goes to work every day at the same school where he was first introduced to graphic design. He said he made a lot of friends when he was a student there, and he is still in contact with many of them.

Barry’s advice to young people preparing for their careers? “Always learn new things, even if it’s not in your profession.”

Levi Miller (2019)

Enid high school student is wired for success.

Then: An Enid High School senior, earning money gathering empty shopping carts in the Walmart parking lot. Levi Miller said when he was a sophomore he didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he’d heard a lot about Autry Technology Center. Levi decided to enroll in its robotics program. He said he’s learned more at Autry Tech in the last two years than he ever imagined, including

  • Leadership and public speaking skills, which he uses at his high school.
  • How to troubleshoot electrical circuits.
  • The ins and outs of programmable logistic controllers and pneumatic diagrams.

Now: After graduation, Levi plans to pursue a job as an electro-mechanical technician. He’s using his robotics skills to wire a remote-controlled boat he is making at home.

Levi said his robotics instructor is the best teacher he has ever had.

“He is one of the smartest guys I have ever met,” Levi said. “He never gets frustrated, and he will make sure you understand what went wrong. He always knows how to fix what you have messed up.”

Levi is an Autry Professional Representative at the technology center.

”CareerTech is an easier way to get a good paying job out of high school.”

Levi Miller, robotics student

Austin Milton (2012)

Austin Milton races through straws and toothpicks to engineering.

Then: A middle school student participating in a pre-engineering presentation by high school students. Austin enjoyed building a structure out of straws and toothpicks and decided to learn more about how things work. At Tulsa Technology Center, he enrolled in pre-engineering classes and

  • Learned how to use Computer Aided Design software.
  • Developed an understanding of what each discipline of engineering does.
  • Learned how to study and what to expect in higher level classes.

Now: Austin’s hands-on experience at TTC prepared him for the challenging curriculum that he faces at Oklahoma State University as a mechanical engineering major. He is an active member of the OK State Formula SAE Racing Team, building race cars from the group up. Following an internship at John Zink Hamworthy Combustion in Tulsa last summer, Austin looks forward to graduation in May with a fulltime mechanical engineering position waiting for him there.

Zackery Minor (2012)

Zack Minor designs his future in commercial graphics.

Then: A high school student involved in Skills USA, Business Professionals of America, and National Technical Honor Society at Tri County Technology Center. The Graphic Communications Technology program at TCTC helped Zack

  • Win numerous awards in graphic communications design competitions.
  • Design monthly newsletters, website graphics, and other promotional material.
  • Grow an appreciation and desire to pursue graphic communications as a career.

Now: After graduating from Bartlesville High School, Zack received more than $8,000 in scholarships. This helped him to become a student at Pittsburg State University majoring in Commercial Graphics with a minor in marketing.

Mike Misner (2012)

Musician Mike Misner changes his tune at Autry Technology Center.

Then: A highly educated Enid native and French horn player with dreams to become a full-time college music professor. After he earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees and performance experience nationally and internationally, his hopes were fading. Then Mike saw a catalog for Autry Tech while home to visit and decided it was time for a career change. The information technology course helped Mike

  • Learn to install, configure and troubleshoot software and hardware on network and desktop computers.
  • Become knowledgeable in managing various network protocols on local area networks and wide area networks.
  • Receive training in configuring and maintaining servers, routers and switches.
  • Become an active member of the National Technical Honor Society, an organization designed to honor student achievement, leadership and promote educational excellence.

Now: Not only is Mike a deskside support tech for the Kemtah Group at Integris in Enid, he also met and married his wife and plays French horn - for fun - in the Enid Symphony Orchestra.

Connor Mitchell (2012)

WorkKeys® helps put Connor Mitchell to work.

Then: A homeschooled student on a tour of the local technology center. Impressed by the facilities and fascinated by the technology, Connor enrolled in the computer repair and networking course where he

  • Learned to diagnose, repair and maintain complex computers and network systems.
  • Took the WorkKeys® assessment, a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop and retain a high-performance workforce.
  • Received Desktop Support Technician Certification.

Now: At the age of 21, Connor is the director of technology for Burns Flat-Dill City Public Schools. He credits his training at WTC for preparing him for this position.

Janna Moore (2016)

Banking executive says CareerTech led her down her career path.

Then: A high school senior who had completed her course requirements and had no idea what she wanted to do. She wasn’t ready for college, so Janna’s mother “strongly encouraged” her to take a course at the newly constructed Indian-Meridian Area Vocational-Technical School. When the vo-tech school opened in 1975 their course options were limited. Janna chose banking and savings and loan because the field had good job prospects.

She worked at a local bank in the mornings, and took classes at what is now Meridian Technology Center in the afternoons. She was in the school’s first graduating class in 1976, and she continued to work at the local bank right after graduation. The certification and hands-on banking experience she received

  • Gave her basic banking knowledge and helped her land several full-time banking jobs, starting at the age of 17.
  • Spurred her to achieve a business degree in accounting.
  • Launched a banking career that has lasted nearly 40 years.

Now: Senior vice president, Business Solutions senior technology manager for Bank of America. She says her CareerTech experience launched her entire career, which has been a rewarding one. Banking is a broad field with varied opportunities.

“CareerTech offered the building blocks for my career,” she said. “It helped me get my foot in the door."

Pedro N. Moreno (2016)

Poor test scores and attitude mask Pedro Moreno's potential and passion for learning.

Then: Poor test scores and grades, a negative attitude towards school, unable to find his place in the traditional high school setting. Without passion, Pedro was at risk of "floating through" school. The electrical program and SkillsUSA at Tulsa Tech helped Pedro

  • Learn the principal knowledge of electrical technology and construction.
  • Meet like-minded students that shared his new passion for leadership, education and technology.
  • Receive leadership and skills for an attitude of success, personal accountability and professional development.

Now: Using skills in the electrical field, Pedro paid his way through college, earned a bachelor's degree in electrical and instrumentation engineering with honors from Oklahoma State University and is now a senior electrical and instrumentation engineer for QPS Engineering, LLC in Tulsa. Selected to represent the engineering department in a study abroad program in Bangkok and Thailand, Pedro took classes at King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok.

“The decision of joining Tulsa Tech was the major turning point in my life, a decision that has had a domino effect of success that I continue to benefit from every day. My goal is to pass down the same enthusiasm for learning and technology to students who need help finding their untapped potential.”

Pedro N. Moreno
Electrical & Instrumentation Engineer
QPS Engineering LLC

James "Red" Morris (2014)

Single dad goes back to school and starts his own catering business.

Then: A father of four in the process of getting a divorce, unemployed after a shoulder injury. Red was at "the lowest point a man could be” when friends and family members convinced him to do what he loved – smoke meat. At the age of 36, Red bought a cheap smoker, and signed up for culinary arts courses at Northeast Tech Center where he

  • Was an active member of student organizations Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and National Technical Honor Society.
  • Adopted his new motto "look up, get up and never give up."
  • Gained courage, confidence and skills to start his own business.

Now: Red owns his own business, Red’s House BBQ, catering events and delivering his barbecue across Oklahoma. Serving as a role model for young, disenfranchised youth, Red takes his custom concession trailer to fundraising events and other functions. His specialties are smoked cabbage, pulled pork and a six-bean dish with ground beef and peppers.

Kathy Morris (2014)

Norman esthetician Kathy Morris turns back the clock, one facial at a time.

Then: A pre-teen, asking her mother for a skincare-themed birthday party. Interested in holistic skin care for as long as she could remember, Kathy enrolled in the cosmetology/esthetician program at Moore Norman Technology Center. For much less money than similar training at a private beauty school would cost, through Moore Norman’s training, Kathy

  • learned skills including time management, sales, budgeting and stress management.
  • became the first in the state to receive a master instructor’s license in esthetics.
  • raised a family while running her own business.

Now: For 22 years, Kathy has owned the well-known LeVisage Day Spa in Norman. One of LeVisage’s estheticians studied under Kathy at MNTC, and her spa manager is enrolling in the esthetician program this fall. Kathy said employees coming from MNTC are better prepared for the job than those from private training programs. Kathy credits MNTC for changing her life.

Myiosha Morris (2012)

Myiosha Morris never settles on the path to a new future.

Then: Single mother of three with health issues and no transportation who was living with her sister. Myiosha had trained as a certified nursing assistant but her certification had lapsed. Referred by DHS to Moore Norman Technology Center and Project HIRE, which helps people reach employment, she enrolled in the medical assisting course where she

  • Learned to perform administrative and clinical duties such as taking medical histories, recording vital signs and educating patients.
  • Became a member of the National Honor Society and a leader in MNTC student organization, SkillsUSA.
  • Earned 38 hours of college credit.
  • Received certification for medical assistant, CPR and first aid.

Now: Myiosha works at OU Physicians with a group of OB/GYN physicians. Two evenings a week she teaches for the medical office program at MNTC helping women who are in difficult situations. She tells her students to never settle.

Kelly Murray (2012)

Sibling rivalry and curiosity led Kelly Murray into a male-dominated work zone.

Then: A Hanna High School junior sparked by her own curiosity and sibling rivalry with older brothers to learn how to weld. The WWTC Building Maintenance Technician program helped Kelly

  • Get the skills required for a high-wage, high-demand job and assume a leadership role as SkillsUSA chapter treasurer.
  • Take pride in her professional accomplishments and earn respect from instructors and classmates as a team leader.
  • Gain confidence in her skills and compete in a male-dominated arena.

Now: Unintimidated in a male-dominate work zone, Kelly enjoys discussing welding with her brothers and has state and regional welding awards to prove her expertise.

- N -

James Neel (2016)

Persistence and CareerTech training opened the operating room doors for Dr. James Neel.

Then: A young college graduate who dreamed of becoming a doctor. His admission to medical school was denied twice. Not one to give up on his dream, he enrolled in Tulsa Technology Center’s first-ever evening surgical technology program. Under the direction of instructor Mildred Hill, he worked to gain medical experience while he continued to improve his academic record. He worked two jobs during the day and attended classes at night. The CareerTech training and hard work paid off, and James

  • Worked for four years as a surgical technologist.
  • Was accepted into the University of Oklahoma College Of Medicine.
  • Completed his surgical internship at St. John Medical Center.
  • Continued his surgical training and cardiothoracic surgical fellowship in Louisville, Kentucky.

Now: A prominent cardiothoracic surgeon at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Dr. Neel performed the first combined heart-kidney transplantation in the history of Oklahoma. He readily credits his training and experience as a surgical technologist for providing a solid foundation for medical school.

Ms. Hill from Tulsa Technology Center was a key part of my medical school foundation.

James Neel

- O -

Kennedy Ogee (2015)

High school girl shifts gears from taxidermy to hot rods.

Then: A high school junior who thought she wanted to be a taxidermist, with parents who wanted her to learn automobile maintenance. Enrolling in a class at Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center, Kennedy discovered she had a passion for how cars work. Because of her passion, automotive instructor Jim LaFevers recruited her for his competitive engine rebuild team.

In her two years on the team and in the program, she and her teammates

  • Earned thousands of dollars in scholarships.
  • Learned basic automotive maintenance.
  • Learned how to rebuild an engine – fast!
  • Developed resumes and interviewing skills.

Now: Her speed and precision (and small hands) helped the EOCTC team win the national 2014 SEMA Hotrodders of Tomorrow Engine Build Contest. A high school senior, Kennedy plans to use her scholarships to attend the School of Automotive Machinists in Houston. Prior to graduation, she was offered jobs in the automotive field, including a personal invitation to join the team of legendary National Hot Rod Association drag racer Tony Schumacher.

Oklahoma Predictive Maintenance User’s Group (2012)

Oklahoma Predictive Maintenance User’s Group grows with greater service.

Autry Technology Center, Enid

Then: A not-for-profit, professional organization wishing to grow its participant base from 100 Oklahoma companies. A partnership with Autry Technology Center’s Business and Industry Services helped the User’s Group

  • Receive industry-specific training and equipment.
  • Provide a forum for industries to exchange maintenance information and to improve the reliability of their equipment through networking, demonstration, benchmarking and leverage training.
  • Receive funding assistance through Existing Industry Training.

Now: The partnership provides more services to its growing number of company-sponsored members that include utilities, manufacturers, refineries, municipalities, government, service, educational and leading predictive-maintenance vendors.

OSU Fire Service Training (2012)

OSU Fire Service Training partnership enables rural volunteer firefighters to train close to home.

Then: Rural volunteer firefighters needing training for safety and welfare of rural Oklahomans. A partnership between the Stillwater-based Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training and accredited fire training and testing site at Kiamichi Technology Center provides

  • Localized fire training for volunteer departments.
  • Nationally accredited fire training and testing.
  • Specialized training in vehicle extrication, flammable liquids and gases and rope rescues.

Now: The only facility of its kind in the southeast quadrant of Oklahoma, KTC’s fire service training enables men and women to receive training to become accredited volunteer firefighters close to home.

OU Dental Hygiene (2012)

OU Dental Hygiene training serves students close to home.

Then: Dental hygiene students in southern Oklahoma needing training closer to home. A partnership between the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center and Southern Oklahoma Technology Center enables students to

  • Earn a bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene.
  • Learn and apply new skills such as teeth whitening, periodontal treatment, cleaning and polishing, dental x-rays and exams, fluoride treatments and sealants.
  • Fine-tune professional techniques with patients from their home communities.

Now: This win-win situation provides a valuable and economical community service to citizens in the area and gives students the convenience of graduating from college while remaining close to home.

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Gin Pak (2012)

Gin Pak applies the discipline and commitment required to obtain a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do to biotechnology classes and preparing for medical school.

Then: A Moore High School junior with the grit to have earned a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a career goal of becoming a surgeon. In preparation, this National Honor Society student chose to enroll in the Moore Norman Technology Center Biotechnology program, which has given him

  • A chance to work with DNA and cells under the supervision of an excellent science instructor.
  • Experience with professional-level equipment and technology while still in high school.
  • A forum for competition at the CareerTech HOSA Leadership Conference.
  • Leadership opportunities while serving as a student ambassador engaged in recruitment activities.

Now: Gin is actively engaged in competitive events, learning life lessons, earning college credit for the biotechnology courses and looking forward to college and medical school.

Maria Palma (2017)

Autry Tech grad finds TWO careers for the price of one!

Then: A little girl who loved to play with Barbie dolls, spending hours styling their hair. When Maria Lopez was a high school senior, she enrolled in Autry Technology Center’s cosmetology program. She returned the following year to finish the program and get her cosmetology license, competing in Oklahoma SkillsUSA. After completing the program she decided that although she loves working with hair, she wanted to try something different. Eligible for two more years of free tuition at Autry Tech, she enrolled in its graphic arts program, where she:

  • Competed in SkillsUSA in promotional bulletin boards and photography, helping her team earn national gold medals two years in a row.
  • Took advantage of networking opportunities and met new people.
  • Improved her public speaking skills and gained self-confidence.
  • Learned job skills such as interviewing and creating a resume, which helped her land a graphic arts job right after she completed the program.

Now: Creative marketing specialist in Autry Tech’s marketing department and a board member for SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends. Maria says she gets paid for doing everything she loved to do in the classroom.

”The SkillsUSA motto is preparing for leadership in a world of work, and I lived that every day…CareerTech prepared me for what comes after graduation.”

Maria Lopez

Joana Pantoja (2017)

First-generation American has sights set on a future in optometry.

Then: A soft-spoken first-generation American whose parents didn’t speak English. Joana Pantoja’s father was a roofer, her mother was a housekeeper, and they both worked hard to try to save enough money to send their children to college.

In middle school she wanted to be a lawyer, but by high school she realized she preferred science over social studies. When a Metro Technology Centers recruiter visited ASTEC Charter High School, Joana decided to enroll in the technology center’s Biomedical Sciences Academy, a Project Lead the Way program. After attending a classroom lecture about the eye, including a dissection, Joana discovered a passion for vision sciences. She also joined HOSA, the health occupations student organization, and excelled at state and national contests three years in a row.

After graduation she enrolled at the University of Central Oklahoma and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and biomedical sciences.

Joana credits Metro Tech and HOSA for:

  • Teaching her how to use lab equipment she would need to use in college.
  • Helping her improve her networking and communication skills, including how to write research manuscripts and lab reports.
  • Introducing her to notetaking and study methods that aligned with her learning style.
  • Writing letters of recommendation and offering resume guidance that led to several scholarships, including the first ever James D. Branscum Scholarship.

"I felt connected to my teachers at Metro Tech," she said. "I felt like I could talk to them, ask them anything, and they were there to give me advice and support me in anything I wanted to do."

Traveling to the national HOSA conference was Joana’s first airplane trip. Through HOSA activities she traveled to Disneyland, Disney World and Nashville, Tennessee. There were even more travel opportunities as an undergrad at UCO, where she presented her research at national conferences.

Now: A confident, well-spoken first-generation college graduate, Joana will attend optometry school this fall at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. She's helping her parents learn English, and she has motivated her little brother to set his sights on college as well. Her school and work connections recently got her a free eye exam, and she'll receive a free pair of eyeglasses when she gets to school. She's already been promised a residency with an ophthalmologist.

”My mentor at UCO said he was amazed at everything I already knew when I got to college.”

Joana Pantoja

Libby Parker (2017)

Cheerleader chooses a career in nuclear medicine after a CT scan.

Then: A high school cheerleader whose friends wanted her to go into cosmetology. Although Libby Parker wanted to be with her friends, an appendectomy changed her plans. She was having a CT scan when she discovered the world of nuclear medicine. The Piedmont High School senior wound up choosing biomedical sciences over cosmetology, saying, “I really didn’t really see myself cutting hair.” She enrolled at Canadian Valley Technology Center in El Reno, where she is on her way to a career as a nuclear medicine technologist.

Libby has flourished in the biomedical sciences program and she has:

  • Gained biomedical skills and knowledge.
  • Been accepted into the high school early admission program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
  • Tackled hands-on projects in anatomy, cell biology, genetics and disease research.

Now: One of 60 students chosen from 300 applicants for OU’s biomedical program, Libby is guaranteed a spot when she becomes a college junior. Instructor Corey Herndon said Libby has “all the makings of a medical professional,” calling her “intelligent, intentional and diligent.” She will start college this fall as the first Oklahoma Sooner in a family of Oklahoma State Cowboys, once again blazing her own trail.

Parker Pest Control Inc. (2015)

Doing whatever it takes, Parker Pest Control – the "Pied Piper of Ponca City" – takes on government contracting.

Then: A company started in 1963 devising more effective and safe methods of residential and commercial pest control. By 1983, with several inventions under its belt for lawn and pest control, the company had diversified, opening branches across Oklahoma and in Wichita, Kan. In 2014, opportunity knocked for government contracting and Pioneer Tech's Bid Assistance Network helped open the door by

  • Offering market research assistance with bid matching and networking events to meet potential government agency clients.
  • Helping determine through research whether the complex, resource-intensive General Service Administration schedule application process was the right business strategy.
  • Guiding the company through the complex maze of paperwork to complete the application providing access to all federal agencies.
  • Introducing the opportunity to gain a favored position through HUBZone certification for approved companies in historically underused business zones like Indian land.

Now: After connecting face-to-face with a contracting officer of the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Indian Country Business Summit in Oklahoma City, Parker Pest Control won the bid for Riverside Indian School in Anadarko – the very first government job the company bid. Parker is one of very few companies to win the first government job it bid.

"There is no way I or anyone could do this complex, huge quantification process without assistance from OBAN. So many documentations take so much time and effort that most companies quit before they start."

J. Brad Parker, President and CEO
Parker Pest Control Inc.

Jarrod Parks (2017)

Tulsa construction superintendent: “My wife works in a school that I built.”

Then: A Seminole High School student who lost interest in sports and found himself with time to fill. When Jarrod Parks decided to enroll in Gordon Cooper Technology Center’s residential and commercial carpentry program, he thought he wanted to be an architect. He soon learned that the bulk of an architect’s day is spent in front of a computer and decided that wasn’t for him. Jarrod wanted to build something with his hands. And he did, competing in the individual carpentry event at both the state and national SkillsUSA contests. After graduating from Seminole and Gordon Cooper, he enrolled in a two-year construction program at OSU-Okmulgee.

Jarrod said he never had to look for a job after graduation. Crossland Construction came to the university and interviewed students for an internship program, and Jarrod was one of three students selected for the position.

“I graduated on a Friday and started work full-time on a Monday,” he said.

Jarrod said he had an advantage over many of his peers at OSU, because of his background at Gordon Cooper. Before he started college, he had already:

  • Learned basic construction terms, including the names of materials and their uses.
  • Learned how to read a tape measure.
  • Learned basic construction techniques such as general construction framing and how to square a large-scale project.
  • Received guidance on building a resume and interviewing.

Now: He recently finished his fifth year with Crossland Construction, and the 25-year-old construction superintendent says he’s bringing home about $70,000 a year, plus perks, bonuses and even a retirement matching program. Jarrod loves seeing his work around Tulsa, where he has remodeled five grocery stores. He is the contractor on-site for a $5.5 million addition for a Tulsa school, and four of the classrooms he is building are in a FEMA-rated tornado shelter.

“If I’d gone into architecture,” he said, “I’d definitely be looking for a change now. And I’d have a lot more college student loans.”

”My instructor, Jodie Eiland, didn’t just teach us how to do it. He taught us how to fall in love with it.”

Jarrod Parks

Buddy Pearce (2019)

Firefighter followed his dream to the highest, driest, windiest, coldest continent on the planet.

Then: After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, two years of college and an unsatisfying job in the oil and gas industry, Buddy Pearce needed a new challenge. He said the most exciting thing he could imagine was to be a firefighter, so he sold his Harley-Davidson motorcycle for tuition money and enrolled in the 20-week fire academy at Pontotoc Technology Center. Buddy said his instructors at Pontotoc:

  • Taught him the importance of honor, loyalty and hard work.
  • Helped him prepare for a number of certifications, including firefighter I and II, HAZMAT operations, EMT basics, CPR and first aid.
  • Made it possible for him to land a full-time firefighter/EMT job in Seminole.

Buddy said his instructors inspired him so much he began working part-time as an instructor for the academy.

“The instructors prepared us not only for the fire service, but also to lead successful lives,” he said.

Now: Buddy served four years with the Seminole Fire Department. He left Oklahoma to accept a position with the Antarctic Fire Department, the only full-time professional fire department in Antarctica. He is deployed six to seven months a year at McMurdo Station, a U.S.-managed scientific research station. He returns to Oklahoma between contracts.

“I am now skilled enough in my craft that I have been able to follow my dreams,” he said.

”I absolutely use the skills I acquired at Pontotoc Technology Center every day of my life.”

Buddy Pearce, Antarctic firefighter

Jessi Perriman (2017)

Emergency responder gives back by training others.

Then: A young woman looking for a career that was unique, challenging and diverse. Jessi Perriman decided the emergency medical field would fit that bill for her.

“You never see the same thing twice, you have the opportunity to interact with all segments of society, and you can make a positive difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Jessi received her emergency medical technician certification from Western Technology Center and went to work for the Burns Flat Emergency Management Service. At that time she was one of only two paramedics in Washita County. Now she also works part-time for the Elk City Fire Department/EMS.

Jessi said she appreciates the training she received at WTC. “I have no doubt that where I am today is a direct result of the training I received at WTC. The program opened so many doors for me,” she said.

Now Jessi is giving back to the technology center and to her community. She:

  • Is a certified EMS instructor and an adjunct instructor at WTC.
  • Serves as a faculty member for WTC’s American Heart Association Community Training Center.
  • Is responsible for renewing and monitoring other instructors through the American Heart Association.

Jaitton Balcom, director of the Sentinel Ambulance Service and one of Jessi’s students said, “Jessi uses past experience and course curriculum to make sure that everyone understands how, when and why to perform a skill.”

Now: A successful instructor for WTC. “She has knowledge, understanding and compassion. She cares about her patients and her students,” Balcom said.

Emanuel Perry (2014)

Emanuel Perry changes styles.

Then: With a bachelor’s degree in accounting, working as an accountant. A company layoff gave Emanuel an opportunity to start a new – “less black and white” – career for his creative talents. Tulsa Technology Center’s cosmetology program helped Emanuel

  • Maximize his leadership qualities with new experiences in CareerTech student organization SkillsUSA.
  • Learn skills that mixed well with his foundation and natural talent.
  • Take advantage of training to fulfill his dream.

Now: On his way to becoming a great stylist, Emanuel is breaking traditions, taking advantage of training toward a creative career path.

Update: Emanuel is working as a stylist, and his customers have given him high praise for his work.

Randy Perry (2013)

DECA re-directs self-motivated Randy Perry, fueling his potential.

Then: A 1973 high school junior at Putnam City West in Oklahoma City with years of back-breaking work experience – doing anything to make a buck. A combined effort of two DECA advisers in Oklahoma City encouraged Randy to enroll in marketing education and become a DECA member where he

  • Applied hard work, new skills of accountability and a different outlook about what is important.
  • Learned to be accountable, to respect boundaries and how to make things happen.
  • Gained confidence as a leader and mentor, serving as chapter president and earning the State Student of the Year award in 1974.

Now: Randy Perry, vice president of Fentress Oil, has been in the lubricants and fuel business since 1978 and has an extensive knowledge in the lubricant industry. He has been a partner in Fentress Oil Co. since 1984. The company has grown from a $3 million company to a more than $40 million company supplying major manufacturing facilities, government installations, construction companies, airlines, and truck stops.

Tyler Piercey (2012)

Tyler Piercey achieves goal of acceptance into prestigious NASCAR Technical Institute.

Then: Working on cars with his dad and uncle at a young age, drag racing at 16 and dreaming of joining a NASCAR team. Western Technology Center’s Auto Service Technology program helped Tyler

  • Enhance practical skills in auto service.
  • Gain the competitive edge needed to place in the Ford/AAA Auto Contest.
  • Develop leadership skills in the WTC Superintendent’s Leadership Class and National Technical Honor Society.

Now: Tyler is one of three students accepted from Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas into the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. He looks forward to learning advanced techniques for building and testing a competitive NASCAR engine.

Carolyn Piguet (2018)

Ag educator instills passion and provides hands-on training for students.

Then: A former science teacher, guidance counselor, testing coordinator and school principal. Carolyn Piguet was the daughter of wheat farmers who raised beef cattle, and she says one of her fondest childhood memories was watching the soil turn over as her dad plowed the fields. Carolyn’s daughter served as a state FFA officer in 2005, and that’s when Carolyn learned about the leadership and networking benefits of the FFA program.

She became the agricultural education instructor and FFA adviser at Vinita Public Schools in 2010. The fifth-generation agriculturist has spent the past eight years helping her students grow as leaders and sharing her love of the soil. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry recently honored Carolyn as a Significant Woman in Oklahoma Agriculture. Carolyn

  • Is one of only three Oklahoma agricultural education instructors to be a National Board Certified Teacher.
  • Works with students to grow a chapter garden on a one-acre plot donated to the program.
  • Operates a successful farm-to-fork food truck with her students, serving at the FFA Farmers Market and other events.
  • Has a student-run catering business that catered more than 4,500 dinners last year.
  • Helped students launch a new website with e-commerce components.

Now: Carolyn said she feels blessed that she has a position she comes to every day that she enjoys and said she’s grateful there’s something there for her that keeps it fresh. She said she hopes to continue teaching for at least 10 more years.

“I’ve got a whole list of stuff that I want to get done before that time,” she said.

LaWanda Powell (2012)

Single and penniless, LaWanda Powell learns skills to thrive.

Then: Single, depressed, penniless and jobless with little self-esteem. LaWanda and her 9-year-old daughter needed help. The Department of Human Services referred her to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program at Mid-Del Technology Center. There, LaWanda enrolled in the accounting course where she

  • Acquired skills to handle the financial obligations of a business and to process payments made to a business.
  • Learned basic office and computer skills, including processing, spreadsheet and database and presentation software.
  • Graduated in two months with a 99 percent average in Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable.

Now: After an unpaid internship at Total Energy and Environmental Management Co., LaWanda interviewed for the position of assistant accountant. She got the job and has since moved up to handle all duties of the TEEMCO Human Resources Department.

Kaylee Price (2012)

Kaylee Price, a high school junior considering a career as a cardiologist.

Then: An Empire High School junior, nervous about being in Red River Technology Center’s Biomedical Education class. Kaylee quickly recognized that

  • She loves learning about the human body and doesn’t mind a large amount of related homework.
  • Her self-confidence and writing skills are improving with the many opportunities to talk in front of the class.
  • Skills and academics learned through the Biomedical Science Academy go beyond high school, preparing her for college and a future career.

Now: Kaylee is considering a career as a cardiologist.

Kyle Price (2016)

Kiamichi Tech Center grad co-authors a STEM team-building book.

Then: A student at Haworth High School set to graduate in 2013. Kyle Price enrolled in the pre-engineering academy at Kiamichi Technology Center. His experience in that program spurred him on to an electrical engineering program at Texas A&M Texarkana. Kyle

  • Plans to complete his bachelor’s degree in 3.5 years.
  • Plans to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
  • Co-authored a book called “Team Building Activities for STEM Groups.”

Now: Kyle travels around the country with the group Paradigm Shift, conducting STEM camps. His book is available on Amazon.

Kyle says he’s extremely grateful for the education he received in the pre-engineering program. He recently visited Kiamichi Tech’s Idabel campus to visit with current pre-engineering students and gave signed copies of his book to his former instructors, Ricky Alford and Kenny Dial.

“Pre-engineering equipped me with a solid foundation for math and science as well as the communication skills needed to thrive in an ever-connected world. The program is challenging, but well worth the time and effort.”

Kyle Price

Prime Architects (2015)

Prime Architects positions itself for federal government contracting success with the help of the Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network.

Then: With 15-plus years of experience working for large architectural/engineering firms, architect Gene Lavastida went out on his own in 2013 to design government facilities and private sector commercial projects. Through classes offered by the Small Business Administration, he met the Francis Tuttle Technology Center OBAN coordinator who understood government contracting and has helped Prime Architects

  • Take logical steps to grow the business, incorporating strategies with the federal government and identifying appropriate resources and contacts.
  • Apply for and receive government certifications that help small businesses win contracts, including Small Business Administration-certified 8(a), --service-disabled veteran-owned small business, disadvantaged business enterprise and HUBZone.

Now: Expanding services to include construction as a design-build firm and incorporating government contracting strategies learned from working with OBAN, the company has doubled its income during the last year. The company has also identified a particular niche of small business government procurement procedures to target.

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Sheila Ray (2012)

Overcoming gender differences, Sheila Ray excels in the HVAC program while earning credentials for a high-wage job.

Then: A woman with 25 years of construction experience who was unable to get high-wage jobs. Sheila Ray discovered her employment was limited by her gender and lack of certifications in this male-dominated industry. Wes Watkins Technology Center helped Sheila:

  • Become certified in basic plumbing, electrical, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning and carpentry.
  • Pass the EPA Universal Technician license test for working with refrigerants.
  • Look past gender differences and focus on her skills and interests in the programs.

Now: Sheila continues her education at WWTC in the HVAC program while competing in SkillsUSA competitions.

Jimmy Reece (2017)

CareerTech program leads high school athlete to law enforcement career.

Then: A high school athlete with no real plans for his future. Jimmy Reece played football and baseball, and ran track. His educational path wasn’t without struggle, though. His mother and father were sent to prison his freshmen year, and he went to live with his grandmother. When someone from Metro Technology Centers came to his high school to talk about its programs, an interest survey suggested he might like law enforcement. He enrolled, and he excelled.

Jimmy graduated from Oklahoma City Public Schools, Northwest Classen High School and Metro Tech’s Law Enforcement Services Program. He now has a bright future ahead of him and says the Metro Tech program:

  • Helped him discover a passion for law enforcement.
  • Showed him he could combine his love of dogs with law enforcement, through the K-9 officer program.
  • Helped build his self-confidence.

Now: Jimmy says his teachers at Metro Tech and his mentors at the Oklahoma City Police Department worked to create a very positive educational experience. He was hired as a security officer with full benefits and works full-time at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He plans to apply to the OKCPD Police Academy and wants to be a K-9 officer.

Leif Reints (2014)

World’s Best Bricklayer Leif Reints.

Then: A Wyandotte High School student wanting to get out of school. Leif planned to attend the automotive course at Northeast Technology Center so he could rebuild old cars during his retirement years, but the class was full. Friends talked him into attending the masonry course where he

  • Learned to lay and cut brick and tile.
  • Received the Masonry Certification.
  • Won the state SkillsUSA Bricklaying Championship two years in a row and competed at the national level.

Now: Leif competed in the Specmix Bricklayer 500 World Championship and won, becoming the world’s best bricklayer for 2012. He received a new Ford F-250 XLT Crew Cab truck, $5,000 cash and sponsor prizes worth thousands of dollars. Leif runs his own business, Reints Masonry Works, in Joplin, Mo.

Retired First Sergeant Stanley C. Schofield (2013)

Retired U.S. Army First Sergeant Stanley Schofield finds a good fit for his next career.

Then: Retiring as first sergeant after 22 years of service in the U.S. Army. A standard bearer for a unit of 160-plus soldiers and officers – a position he valued – Stanley began the search for his next career, and “not just a job,” he said. He hit all area military-affiliated events, but the CareerTech co-sponsored hiring event in Lawton opened the door for Stanley to get to know his future employer, who

  • Was also retired military and understood his stress.
  • Knew a first sergeant’s role is teaching soldiers something new and how to implement it.
  • Was looking for retired soldiers who had succeeded in the military.

Now: On a career path that is a good fit, Stanley has become a standard bearer at New York Life Insurance Co., offering financial planning services as an agent for active and retired soldiers and civilians. The company’s continuing education requirement matches Stanley’s value system of staying relevant. He plans to complete a bachelor’s degree in business management and administration in 2015 and get on the fast track to management with New York Life.

Anthony Rifenberry (2019)

Graduation and certification are terms this BPA winner didn’t expect to hear.

Then: He had been an orphan all of his life. Anthony Rifenberry moved from a series of foster homes to the Oklahoma Lions Boys Ranch, now Lions Meadows of Hope. When he turned 18, he needed to find a job.

It was a vicious cycle. To get a job, he needed training, and to get training, he needed money. But the roadblocks didn’t stop there. Anthony wanted to enroll in Meridian Technology Center’s information technology program, but to qualify for the financial assistance he would need, he would have to have a high school diploma.

Anthony enrolled in the Meridian Tech’s adult basic education program, and in only three months, he earned his high school equivalency diploma. The ABE program gave Anthony:

  • The confidence to believe he could graduate high school.
  • Personal assistance with complex math and other subjects required to pass the HSE exam.
  • The knowledge and skills he needed to pass the HSE exam.

The smaller, more intimate classroom environment was one of the keys to Anthony’s academic success.

“I definitely learned more math at Meridian Tech than I did in high school,” he said.

Now: Anthony is a member of Business Professionals of America, and his network design team won the state contest. The team will compete at BPA’s national conference in Anaheim, California, in May. After he graduates with his network and PC support specialist certification, Anthony would like to continue his education, possibly enrolling in network engineering or cybersecurity.

”I had convinced myself that graduating high school and getting into a technology center was not possible.”

Anthony Rifenberry

Matt Riggs (2012)

LEGO® spaceships and Lincoln Log towers lead Matt Riggs to an honorable future.

Then: Playing with LEGO toy blocks and Lincoln Logs to build towers and spaceships. Matt was always interested in engineering and eager to challenge himself. After seeing his older brother thrive in the Pre-Engineering Academy at Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Matt enrolled and

  • Acquired leadership and time management skills.
  • Learned to study to fully understand the material and learned the importance of proper preparation.
  • Studied trigonometry, chemistry, calculus, physics, engineering design, bridge design and architecture.

Now: A first cadet at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point majoring in civil engineering, Matt will become a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army after graduating. He hopes to branch into the engineer regiment, become a leader for a construction platoon and, upon attaining the rank of captain, pursue a career with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Misty Robinson (2014)

Creative flair ignites with passion for graphic design.

Then: Born with a flair for creative arts. Working with PowerPoint and developing slide shows as a teenager in high school computer science class, Misty developed a passion to express her creativity through graphic design. In pursuit of a career in graphic arts, Misty enrolled in graphic design training at Pontotoc Technology Center, where she

  • Learned design techniques and skills in digital photography, sales and time management.
  • Placed in the top 12 in an Oklahoma Business Professionals of America competitive event.
  • Started a freelance photography and design business.
  • Built a solid portfolio that landed her a career opportunity.

Now: Misty’s career has taken off. Aspiring to become a creative director, Misty is now one of three graphic designers for the world’s largest casino, Winstar World Casino and Resort. She has earned full benefits, salary and a great opportunity to move up within the Chickasaw Nation.

Kyle Roe (2012)

Kyle Roe sees the signs of creativity.

Then: An artist and high school junior wanting to learn technical skills. Kyle became involved with SkillsUSA and the student ambassador program through Autry Technology Center while enrolled in the graphic arts course. ATC taught him

  • Graphic design and layout, composition, web design, photography and image editing.
  • Basic skills for starting and completing a project by a deadline.
  • How to interact with clients and customers to ensure satisfaction.

Now: While at Autry, Kyle served as a district officer for SkillsUSA and was part of the State Champion Quiz Bowl Team. He earned his bachelor of fine arts in studio art from Oklahoma State University in 2009 and is now the head graphic designer for Signs By Tomorrow in Midwest City where he designs custom logos and produces and installs signs, trade show graphics and vehicle wraps.

Carter Rogers (2019)

Woodland high schooler wrote the code for career success.

Then: He was only 9 years old when his grandfather bought him his first computer. Carter Rogers was curious how the machine worked, so the precocious youngster read online books and tutorials on how to write code. He wrote his first program while he was still in elementary school and discovered he liked coding.

In middle school, Carter toured Pioneer Technology Center, and when he was in high school he decided to enroll in Pioneer Tech’s business and information technology education program. At the tech center, he gained additional experience in coding, and he

  • Is working on his CCNA, an information technology certification from Cisco Systems.
  • Competed at the state and national level in Business Professionals of America.
  • Won first place in Java programming at the BPA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California -- the first time a Pioneer Tech information technology student won the top honor.

BITE instructor Zac Ladner said Carter worked hard to prepare for the competition, and it paid off.

“Placing first at Nationals is a huge honor,” Ladner said.

Now: This fall, Carter will be a senior at Woodland High School. He is the network administrator for the town of Ralston, Oklahoma.

”A year ago I never would have thought I’d be placing first at a national competition…your only limit is the one you give yourself.”

Carter Rogers

Steven Rogers (2019)

Technology center instructor literally grew up in the CareerTech family.

Then: As a small child, Steven Rogers says, he ran the hallways of High Plains Technology Center while his dad taught in a classroom there. Having grown up on that campus, it wasn’t much of a stretch for him to take classes there as soon as he was old enough.

Steven chose marketing and management classes at High Plains Tech and joined DECA, the CareerTech student organization for marketing students.

He said his two years in DECA taught him:

  • Public speaking, through competitions and events.
  • The importance of good customer service.
  • How to be more self-confident, something his marketing instructor emphasized.
  • Business management skills.

After graduation, Steven used those management skills to open three businesses in five years. “I think students coming out of CareerTech have a better understanding of the mechanics of a business,” he said.

Now: Steven needed to make a career change for personal reasons and decided to join the High Plains family once again, this time as an instructor. He was denied that opportunity three times, but he did not give up. With his fourth application, Steven was hired.

“I have a passion for teaching, and I love the CareerTech family as my own,” he said.

Steven is now the industrial coordinator at High Plains Tech. Also a fireman and EMT, Steven teaches fire, industrial and wind rescue classes.

Read More About Steven Rogers:
Steven Rogers aids in harrowing rescue

”CareerTech helps students develop strong work ethics.”

Steven Rogers

Joanna Roller (2012)

Dreams of dentistry become a reality for Joanna Roller.

Then: A curious 16-year-old with a desire to enter the dental field. After graduating from Burlington High School, Joanna enrolled in the health careers certification program at Northwest Technology Center where she

  • Acquired basic knowledge of dentistry by practicing infection control, using dental materials and performing dental charting and chair-side functions.
  • Reaffirmed her passion for dentistry as a career through helping others with their dental health.

Now: Joanna earned her dental assistant certification after attending NWTC and is a licensed dental hygienist at Legacy Dental Care in Oklahoma City. She credits her success in Rose State College’s dental hygiene school and her career to her time at Northwest Technology Center.

Andrew Russ (2018)

Western Tech/Lone Wolf grad cracks the code for a promising tech career.

Then: A Lone Wolf High School sophomore working as a repairman for a local computer consultant. When Andrew Russ toured Western Technology Center, the computer repair/networking program captured his attention. He enrolled the following year and completed the two-year program in eight months. He then transitioned into networking and focused on cybersecurity. In the Western Tech program, Andrew

  • Achieved numerous certifications, including CompTIA A+/Network+, IC3 Digital Literacy, TestOut PC PRO, TestOut Network Pro, TestOut Security Pro and ACT Career Readiness Gold Certification.
  • Was involved in Skills USA, serving as secretary and president of his local chapter and as a state officer candidate.
  • Received certificates of completion, including PC Support Tech, Desktop Support Tech, Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics.

Now: Employed full-time as a technical support analyst for the BancFirst Corp. Security Division in Oklahoma City. Andrew plans to continue his education online with Western Governors University, pursuing a cybersecurity and information assurance degree.

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Stephen Saak, S&S Promotions (2013)

Signs, signs, everywhere signs by S&S Promotions.

Then: A 1971 graduate of U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City with dreams of becoming an architect. During his junior year, Saak enrolled in the commercial art program at Metro Technology Center’s Foster Estes Campus – today called the South Bryant Campus – where he

  • Practiced his new graphic art skills with on-the-job training as a paste-up artist with the Oklahoma Journal.
  • Was hired by a company in a brand new industry: T-shirt screen printing
  • Started a sign printing business in 1972 at age 19 in half of a garage with $100 and a partner from class.

Now: S&S Promotions has grown into a 50,000-foot facility with 35 employees that include other Metro Tech graduates. The company is one of the nation’s most innovative retail sign printers with clients such as Sonic, Macklanburg-Duncan, QuikTrip and Tyler Media. Specialty Oklahoma City projects include the rock 'n' roll display for the Oklahoma History Center's film exhibit, the five-story Thunder banner that wraps the MidFirst building off Interstate 44 and stencil creation for Rick Sinnett, the artist painting “This Land” for the Silo Art Project off of I-40 in Bricktown.

Terri Starr Salazar (2012)

Terri Starr Salazar is ready to tackle “anything” with skills and self-confidence developed at Caddo Kiowa Technology Center.

Then: A college dropout before completing her first semester. After taking her cousin to enroll at the technology center, Terri discovered new options for herself. Caddo Kiowa Technology Center’s Medical Transcription and Job Readiness classes helped Terri

  • Enjoy the self-paced study and hands-on coursework—ideal for her learning style.
  • Complete three areas of certification and 10 national Brainbench certification tests.
  • Find a job after learning resume writing, computer concepts, and written communication and interview skills.

Now: Terri is an assistant to the enrollment specialist at the Kiowa Tribal Headquarters in Carnegie. With the job skills and self-confidence developed at Caddo Kiowa, she knows she can complete the tasks assigned and loves her work.

Samaritan Emergency Medical Services (2015)

Putting an eBay purchase of two ambulances into overdrive, Samaritan EMS serves clients with heart.

Then: A paramedic/EMT husband/wife team since 1984. In 2008, with a purchase of two ambulances from eBay, this bootstrapping couple started their own standby ambulance service for specialty events like race tracks, concerts and football games. Because of Tulsa Technology Center’s OBAN coordinator the company has

  • Put in place a plan to ramp up beyond a husband-and-wife team and bid on government contracts.
  • Qualified for financing with a small business lender.
  • Earned government-preferred certification as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business.

Now:Samaritan is serving several small Oklahoma municipalities and Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City. With a fleet of 13 ambulances, including ground transport for the University of Oklahoma Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the company now has 50 employees – 40 percent of whom are military veterans. All but four employees are licensed paramedics or EMTs.

"When my wife and I started our business, it was not our intention to do business with the government. Now that we have seen how it works, our goal is to serve a client base that is 40 percent federal government and 60 percent state and local. This would never have happened without our OBAN coordinator."

"Our goal is to grow our own company. Most emergency medical technicians and paramedics in Oklahoma are trained through the CareerTech System and all are tested there. Most of our leadership included."

Charles Vetters, NRP, Owner/Director
Samaritan Emergency Medical Services

SandRidge Energy Inc. (2014)

Safety first for SandRidge Energy Inc.

Then: Booming oil production in northwest Oklahoma, and Lariat Services Inc. – a SandRidge Energy drilling and oilfield services subsidiary – was hiring. The company needed a process to assure new hires were aware of company expectations for the environment, health and safety. Northwest Technology Center’s Business and Industry Training Services provided the company

  • Environmental and OSHA training.
  • Respiratory fit testing.
  • Forklift training and certification.

Now: All new hires receive safety training before starting work. The training allows all employees to learn what SandRidge’s environmental, health and safety expectations are before they start to work.

Scale Source (2012)

New hires at Scale Source depend on Canadian Valley’s authentic and interactive training.

Then: Small Kentucky-based Scale Source, a leading U.S. company providing quality and professional industrial weighing solutions in need of new employee training at its Yukon site. Business and Industry Services at Canadian Valley Technology Center

  • Partnered with the company to create a two-week Scale Source Academy, an interactive laboratory.
  • Provided on-the-job training with authentic job-site equipment.
  • Served as a local training center for new employees.

Now: Scale Source, with 55 employees nationwide, uses CVTC as its training resource.

Terri Scalley (2012)

CareerTech education stabilizes Terri Scalley.

Then: Living in a small travel trailer with no running water or electricity with her two daughters. Terri realized that an education was the only way to a better life. She turned to Central Technology Center, where she enrolled in the health careers course and

  • Earned her certified nursing assistant, home health aide, phlebotomy and licensed practical nurse certifications.
  • Acquired relationships that helped her survive and thrive.
  • Developed an optimistic outlook on life with a drive to succeed.

Now: While attending classes at CTC, Terri’s travel trailer was destroyed in an ice storm. Through help from classmates and friends, Terri received food, supplies and enough money for the deposit and first month’s rent in her own apartment. She is now an LPN at Truman Healthcare and Rehab in Lamar, Mo. and enjoys a stable life with her children.

Schatz Publishing Group (2016)

Struggling company changes course with government contracting success.

Then: In 1991, a female-owned company with two owners and one part-time employee producing an agricultural magazine. By 1998, the owners needed to diversify to save the company. Pioneer Tech's Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network, a procurement technical assistance center, suggested government contracting. At Pioneer Tech, the OBAN/PTAC counselor assisted in opening doors to

  • Obtaining bid assistance, personal counseling, networking, problem-solving and bid matching.
  • Finding courses, speakers and outreach clinics with potential clients.
  • Becoming highly competitive as a company with certifications such as Small Business Administration woman-owned and veteran-owned and participation in 8(a) and HUBZone programs.

Now: The premier product at Schatz Publishing is professional communication strategies, and the company is growing into a multimillion-dollar organization with several employee locations near clients across the country. The owners and most of the 24 employees are women. Schatz Publishing has worked with 27 federal agencies including the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Reserve Command, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Air Force, the Department of the Treasury, the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security.

"Nearly every dollar we have made since 1998 can be attributed to the services our company has received from Pioneer Tech's Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network. They completely changed the course of our company, which has made over $20 million during its 24 years and shown growth nearly every year."

Sheree Lewis, Co-owner, Operations Manager
Schatz Publishing Group LLC

Tyler Schnaithman (2017)

FFA American Star Farmer plants seed early for family business.

Then: An 11-year-old boy from Garber, Oklahoma, who bought a half-interest in a harvesting machine and began putting up custom hay with his older brother. That sibling partnership eventually grew into a diversified farming business for Tyler Schnaithman. He became involved with FFA in the eighth grade, starting out with 7 acres of wheat. He says FFA helped him get a jump-start on his agriculture career by:

  • Teaching him about record keeping, a skill he uses every day on the farm.
  • Teaching him about responsibility and how the decisions he makes have an impact on his farming operation.
  • Improving his self-confidence and public speaking skills.

Now: One of only 10 Oklahomans to win FFA’s prestigious American Star Farmer Award. Tyler’s passion is focused on crop production, and a majority of his acres are on a no-till wheat/canola, double crop soybean and corn rotation. The fifth-generation farmer said his dream was to build a farming operation he could return to full-time after he graduates from Oklahoma State University in May, and FFA taught him many of the skills he needed to do that.

’[FFA] developed a passion in me, and from there I was able to extend my operation over the years.”

Tyler Schnaithman

Chacey Schoeppel (2016)

Okstate Truman scholar says FFA helped prepare her for college and work.

Then: Chacey was already speaking competitively in the fifth grade, so by the time she was a Fairview High School student the decision to join FFA with its plethora of competitive events was an easy one. Her ag teachers encouraged her to participate in several competitive events, which she says allowed her to develop invaluable real-world skills that can’t be taught in a classroom. Involvement in FFA helped her develop

  • Transferrable skills – such as public speaking, interviewing and putting together a resume – that she could apply to college and work.
  • Friends and professional connections that helped her personally and professionally, leading to scholarships at Oklahoma State and an internship with Gov. Mary Fallin.
  • A strong work ethic, including learning the value of time management and working hard.

Now: A graduate of Oklahoma State University’s ag business program with a pre-law option, Chacey is working with the Ubuntu Youth Project, an after-school program that provides tutoring, mentorship, agricultural education and entrepreneurial skill development for secondary students. In her junior year at OSU, Chacey was named a Truman Scholar. That honor included a scholarship for graduate school, but she plans to defer that scholarship while she continues her work with the South Africans.

”I wouldn’t have had scholarships to Oklahoma State if it hadn’t been for people I met through CareerTech and FFA.”

Chacey Schoeppel, former FFA member

Shawnee Police Department (2013)

Training hub sharpens regional police force skills.

Then: A strong working partnership benefitting both organizations. Shawnee Police Department provides local and state officer training and a security benefit to the technology center with uniformed officers in marked cars on campus. The partnership offers skills training with

  • Scenarios using simulators for emergency driving and use-of-force.
  • Self defense, stun gun use, search warrant service and affidavit writing.
  • Firearms maintenance.
  • Supervisor liability.

Now: The training center is a hub of regional law enforcement training. Because of this partnership, the SPD and state law enforcement agencies recently used the Gordon Cooper Technology Center campus as an assembly point and base of operations for a large countywide methamphetamine operation raid, resulting in 100 officers making 45 arrests.

Shilog (2016)

From baby bibs to bomb blasting caps, OBAN teams Shilog and manufacturers with the goal of winning federal contract dollars.

Then: A small, family-owned business providing medical products to clients since 1984. Because of Bud Gaberino's military experience and background, the owners decided to expand services that connect other companies with products and services to government agencies. Working with Kiamichi Technology Center's OBAN coordinator since 2006, the company has been able to

  • Save time to assist clients.
  • Stay current on open governmental bid solicitations through daily emails and website searches.
  • Expand into manufacturing, fabrication and other nonmedical products and services.
  • Research prospective companies for contact names, bids and last bid price ranges for a competitive starting point.

Now: Shilog helps to keep people working in companies in the southeast quadrant of the state. In some cases, companies working with Shilog have garnered so much business, they have had to hire more employees to fulfill contracts.

"Federal government contracting is all about timing, communication, follow up and follow through. Because of Ron's ability to communicate in the business arena and find the right match for Shilog, this year we have teamed with a brush hog manufacturer, wood preservative supplier, packaging material distributor and hardwood lumber manufacturer to win federal contracting dollars."

Bud Gaberino, President and CEO

"Government contracting is a really competitive market. Sometimes a $3 million bid is missed by a penny a pound. That's where OBAN's knowledge comes in handy. Our OBAN coordinator knows what bids went for the last time so we can have greater chance at winning the bid.”

Connie Clemons, Office Manager, Contracts and Billing

Josh Shipp (2012)

Abused, neglected and abandoned as a child, Josh Shipp had no idea the impact DECA would make on his life.

Then: A 17-year-old Yukon High School student who was abused, neglected and abandoned as a child. Josh’s low self-esteem and life were transformed through marketing education and its student organization, DECA, as he

  • Served as DECA state president.
  • Learned to use his gift of humor to encourage people.
  • Began a career emceeing pep rallies and leading workshops.

Now: Josh is a nationally known motivational speaker, reaching millions of youth around the world through live performances and an interactive Web site: Hey His message helps young people get over “stuff” to realize they have a purpose in life. Josh was recognized by Inc. magazine for its annual “30 Under 30” list of America’s coolest young entrepreneurs.

Ricky Shriner (2013)

When cancer hit close to home, Ricky Shriner decided to hit back.

Then: Learning that his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. A Bristow High School student, Ricky enrolled in the biomedical science program at Central Tech to learn about chemistry that could help kill the disease. In the program he

  • Learned about DNA structure, the chemical composition of lipids and proteins and genetics.
  • Discovered career fields related to his interests.
  • Developed research skills through class work, job shadowing and assistantships.

Now: A plant and biochemistry major at Oklahoma State University, Ricky is an undergraduate research assistant working on DNA extractions from soil. After graduation, he hopes to enter the medical field to develop medicine from plants to treat cancer.

Sarah Simpson-Warrior (2012)

Sarah Simpson-Warrior applies her math skills in hands-on learning.

Then: A Cushing High School junior who was a natural, strong-willed student organization leader looking for new challenges. Central Technology Center’s Pre-Engineering Education helped Sarah

  • Better understand math by applying it to hands-on engineering-related projects.
  • Learn how to work with leaders from other schools on teams to reach common goals.
  • Challenge herself in a competitive learning environment.

Now: Sarah has been accepted to Yale University and the University of Oklahoma.

Julie Smiley-Foster (2012)

Julie Smiley-Foster is a Project Lead the Way Sciences Instructor and National Board Certified Teacher.

Then: An agricultural communications major with 23 years of practical farm and ranch experience. Julie taught science for Grades 7-12 including anatomy and physiology, biology and dropout recovery. As an instructor in Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s Project Lead the Way biomedical science education, Julie can

  • Teach “practical biology” to help students understand the principles of biology at work.
  • Help students understand the similarity of human and animal biological systems with hands-on projects.
  • Find out students’ interests and then expose, immerse, introduce and move them along at an accelerated pace.

Now: Julie is enthusiastically preparing students for the rigors of university study and successful careers in medicine and health care.

Malcolm Smith (2018)

Malcolm Smith made the “switch” from cleaning other people’s businesses to cleaning up his career.

Then: The owner of a small commercial cleaning company who had a passion for technology. Malcolm Smith said Tulsa Technology Center’s Cisco certified network associate routing and switching program was a perfect fit for his schedule, his skill set and his passion.

Malcolm is on track to be a network architect in a few years. At Tulsa Tech, he

  • Gained skills in network configuration and troubleshooting, physical layer cabling and topology implementation.
  • Learned soft skills relevant to the network industry.
  • Was chosen to participate in Cisco Dream Team 2018, which took him to Florida for Cisco Live! 2018.

“That experience was one of the best in my life so far,” he said, “and I have to say that I never would have found that opportunity without Tulsa Tech’s CCNA program.

Now: “Networking has become a way of life,” he said. “I’ve been introduced to an entire community of amazing people that I never knew existed.”

Malcolm is moving to Texas to work for CDW, a provider of technology products and services for business, government and education. He plans to be a sales engineer. Malcolm said most of his fellow students who began the program in high school landed great paying jobs right after graduating. A few of them were even hired before graduation.

”Tulsa Tech has amazing programs and I would implore anyone interested, especially those in high school, to get a head start on your career.”

Malcolm Smith

Natasha Smith (2016)

Stepping out of her comfort zone led Natasha Smith into leadership and a passion for CareerTech.

Then: Before high school, homeschooled Natasha's older friend was always talking about office management technology at the technology center. Intrigued, Natasha enrolled as a junior in high school, when she was old enough. The office management program at Gordon Cooper helped Natasha

  • Excel at Microsoft Office programs.
  • Experience an authentic work environment..
  • Gain leadership, communication and organizational skills.
  • Become elected as BPA state parliamentarian and national postsecondary vice president.
  • Decide to go to college.

Now: Natasha earned a Bachelor of Science degree in career technical and workforce development at the University of Central Oklahoma. She has found her passion as a CareerTech educator at Nathan Hale High School in Tulsa, where she teaches hospitality and tourism.

"Becoming involved in BPA changed my life completely. I discovered my true potential as a leader and speaker, overcoming fears and stepping out of my comfort zone. What I've learned through CareerTech and BPA is so valuable and couldn't have been obtained anywhere else. I developed a deep appreciate for everything that CareerTech stands for and found my passion as a CareerTech educator."

Natasha Smith, Nathan Hale High School, Tulsa
Hospitality and Tourism Instructor

Rusty Smith (2017)

Ex-offender sets the wheels in motion for a new life.

Then: An outspoken ex-Marine with limited job skills, doing manual labor on the farm and in the oil field. Rusty Smith said he “made some bad choices,” which resulted in a stint in prison. Vowing to make the best of his time on the other side of the fence, he signed up for a class at the automotive academy at Jim E. Hamilton Skills Center. He completed the program and received his automotive/brakes technician certification.

After serving his time at Jim E. Hamilton, Rusty needed a job. He went to Discount Wheel and Tire in Ardmore to get his tires mounted, and while he was there, he was encouraged to fill out an employment application. The next day, the manager offered him a job as a tire hand, making $9 an hour. Rusty took the opportunity and ran with it.

He said he gained more from CareerTech in a year than he did in four years in the Marine Corps, including:

  • General knowledge of engine performance, steering and suspension, HVAC, electrical, manual drivetrain and axles, brakes and transmissions.
  • How to use an alignment machine.
  • Common knowledge of mechanics and how things work.
  • Life skills, such as being on time, behaving responsibly, hygiene and taking care of your workspace.

Now: At 34 years old, he’s now the manager of Discount Wheel and Tire, the biggest alignment shop in Ardmore. Rusty is responsible for all of the shop’s hiring and firing and manages employees who are his senior in both age and years of experience.

After nine years at Discount Wheel and Tire, he’s the highest paid employee at the shop. His bills are paid; he has vehicles, a house and a wife; and he said he doesn’t have to struggle anymore.

“My salary has gone from peanuts to gold nuggets in my eyes,” he said. “I pay my child support and still live happily every week.”

”If I could go back and do it again I wouldn’t choose the Marines, but I would choose CareerTech. I gained more from CareerTech in one year than I did in four years in the Marine Corps.”

Rusty Smith, Manager
Discount Wheel and Tire, Ardmore, Oklahoma

Snap-On (2012)

Snap-On partners train diesel technicians in nation’s first Diesel Diagnostic Training and Certification Center.

Then: A partnership between Francis Tuttle Technology Center and Snap-On to meet the need for diesel technicians in the nation’s first Diesel Diagnostic Training and Certification Center. The partnership provides

  • An opportunity to earn college credit toward an applied science degree.
  • Hands-on diesel training to work on products from companies such as Cummins, Caterpillar, Freightliner, International and Volvo.
  • Technician training foheavy equipment, oil exploration and extraction, marine and the national gas industries.

Now: In a field expecting to grow during the next seven years from 24,000 to 46,000 new technicians, students receive an advanced level of training with an internationally respected company for high-wage careers.

Sooner Construction Company of North Central Oklahoma (2012)

Sooner Construction Company of North Central Oklahoma and Pioneer Tech focus on developing skilled workers for future workforce.

Pioneer Technology Center, Ponca City

Then: A leading general contractor needing a pipeline of skilled workers. Together, PTC and Sooner Construction

  • Developed PTC’s Advanced Construction Training System initiative and internship program.
  • Set up a mobile training lab for architecture and construction students.
  • Implemented a construction trades job trailer for training.

Now: The partnership continues to develop a skilled future workforce and contribute to the economic development of the region.

Southwest Oklahoma Plumbing (2016)

Southwest Oklahoma Plumbing wins more contracts and saves money and time with OBAN.

Then: After 28 years of working for commercial and residential plumbing companies, Ed Gluckowski was ready for a change. In 2011, he started his own plumbing company, but one that does not take service calls. At Red River Technology Center's procurement technical assistance center, the OBAN coordinator helps Ed.

  • Receive daily emails with bid acquisition opportunities.XT
  • Protect his company in economic lean times by winning government contracts.
  • Save time and money each month in developing and printing plans and documents for bid applications.

Now: With customers and employees located across southwestern Oklahoma, the company serves local, county and state government groups such as schools, hospitals, fairgrounds and even a new movie theater. Now, he doesn't answer service calls, and his phone stops ringing at 5 p.m. and doesn't ring on the weekends.

"The service OBAN provides my company is priceless. Without it, I couldn't afford to be a member of each separate plan room. And by having access to Red River Technology Center's plan room and blueprint plotter, I don't have to take a day to travel to Oklahoma City to print blueprint copies. It's like having an extra office right here."

Edward Gluckowski, Owner
Southwest Oklahoma Plumbing

Spencer Machine Works (2012)

Spencer Machine Works updates technology and employee training to match customer expectations.

Then: Spencer Machine Works, making machined parts for the repair of agriculture and oil field equipment since 1918, in need of technology updates and employee training. Pioneer Technology Center’s Business and Industry Services helped the company

  • Connect with CareerTech’s Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network to set up a cage code for government bidding.
  • Advance technology to match customer expectation and needs.
  • Secure a trainer and provide basic Auto Computer-Aided Drafting training to employees.

Now: Spencer meets customer needs by revising customer drawings electronically, thus cutting drafting time and increasing production. The potential result is more government contracts, which in turn creates more jobs in the community.

Bryan Stark (2015)

Pre-engineering and WorkKeys help Bryan Stark land a premier apprenticeship.

Then: A high school student at the Kiamichi Technology Center Pre-Engineering Academy. While there, he took the WorkKeys assessments: reading for information, locating information and math. After receiving his scores he

  • Realized what he needed to work on.
  • Studied the KeyTrain portion of the WorkKeys program.
  • Retested and improved his scores.
  • Was selected for an apprenticeship program with KBR of Houston, Texas.

Now: A college graduate working for Brown and Root at International Paper in Valliant, Oklahoma. He is working in a career he enjoys after receiving a free college degree with the apprenticeship program.

Blaire Stevison (2012)

Blaire Stevison dreams of becoming a NASCAR crew chief.

Then: A young girl with a passion for working on cars, racing and building things. Autry Technology Center’s Welding program helped Blaire

  • Develop quality welding skills.
  • Realize that gender shouldn’t matter in the workplace.
  • Broaden her experiences beyond high school.

Now: Blaire aspires to be a NASCAR crew chief and uses her welding skills to help community programs like Habitat for Humanity.

Stock Exchange Bank (2012)

A partnership worth banking on.

Then: In business since 1903, this community-minded business wanted economic success and better quality of life for residents. The bank was one of High Plains’ first partners 28 years ago when bank officials realized the technology center offered potential for growth and prosperity in northwest Oklahoma and wanted to be involved. Together the partners have benefited by

  • Bank management giving guest presentations on topics from banking to interviewing.
  • High Plains Technology Center providing specialized training and assistance in areas from leadership to marketing for bank employees.
  • HPTC students and graduates finding employment at the bank.

Now: With three Woodward offices, the Stock Exchange Bank's 52 Woodward-area employees take pride in delivering world-class service with hometown hospitality.

Melissa Stonebarger (2012)

Heading down a dark, lonely path, Melissa Stonebarger found her “light” through graphic design.

Then: A high school student heading down a lonely path of self-destruction. Canadian Valley Technology Center’s Graphic Design program helped Melissa

  • Find a positive focus in her life.
  • Earn a graphic design internship with Canadian Valley’s Communications and Marketing Department.
  • Learn to produce graphic designs for billboards, t-shirts and other promotional items.

Now: For three years, Melissa has been working as a graphic designer – a career she loves – at Fox 25 in Oklahoma City.

Taylor Swanson (2012)

Taylor Swanson breaks into a nontraditional role to help others.

Then: A Keys High School graduate with an interest in a health-related career. Taylor Swanson turned to the practical nursing program at Indian Capital Technology Center to help him

  • Choose a career based on his interests and abilities by working with physicians and nurses in a clinical environment.
  • Utilize effective communication and critical thinking skills to provide quality patient care.
  • Perform routine healthcare and diagnostic procedures.

Now: Taylor was named 2011 Outstanding Breaking Traditions Adult Student. This is an award for students who chose a specific career based on their interests, not gender. Concurrently enrolled in practical nursing at ICTC, Taylor plans to attend the OU Health Science Center in Tulsa and earn his Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

- T -

T. McDonald Construction Inc. (2015)

T. McDonald Construction makes tracks from a backyard backhoe to one of Eufaula's largest employers.

Then: In the early 1990s, four employees working from home and using a backhoe on small jobs. In 2005, they learned about government contracting, but needed help to qualify. They contacted Kiamichi Technology Center, and the KTC bid assistance network coordinator has helped T. McDonald Construction by

  • Sending daily governmental bid reports that match the company's capabilities and connection with firms for general contracting and subcontracting.
  • Providing training in government-mandated certified payrolls and writing requests for proposals.
  • Investing in a plan room and plotter for enlarging plans and making copies.
  • Assisting with federal certification applications for a highly competitive bidding position.

Now: A fleet of 10- and 18-wheelers and more than 20 employees are busy with the company's largest client, the state of Oklahoma. Bidding on anything in Oklahoma east of Interstate 35, T. McDonald is one of the largest employers in the area, with a $150,000 per month payroll. The company also has ongoing projects in area municipalities and received the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2011 Natural Resources Conservation Service Small and Disadvantaged Business Contractor of the Year award for Oklahoma.

"The most significant service provided by our OBAN coordinator was in writing a request for proposal. He linked us with a company to help, and we were the successful bidder, which resulted in two multimillion dollar solicitations within three weeks."

Julie McDonald, Vice President
T. McDonald Construction Inc.

Justine Talmadge (2019)

ABE instructor sparked student’s interest in welding.

Then: A recovering addict who started using drugs in seventh grade. Justine Talmadge was a mother of three who said she had no hopes, dreams or passions when she dropped out of high school. After spending six months in rehab, Justine said, she was clean and motivated. Her goal was to get her high school diploma and find a career.

“I didn’t want to be a nobody,” Justine said. “I wanted to prove I wasn’t stupid.”

She had tried to get her equivalency diploma three times before. She then enrolled in the adult basic education program at Caddo Kiowa Technology Center. Justine said ABE instructor Brad Shaw and the Caddo Kiowa staff helped her by

  • Offering a scholarship that paid for her high school equivalency exam.
  • Helping her discover her passion for welding, through a job fair on campus.
  • Working with her to pass the high school equivalency exam that led to her diploma.

“It took me 15 years to figure out what I am good at,” Justine said, “and I am good at welding.”

Now: Justine is well on her way to becoming a welder. She is halfway through her first year in the welding and metal fabrication program at Caddo Kiowa. She said welding instructors Keith Theesen and his assistant Shane Wilson played a major role in her success.

”Justine is that student who comes into your classroom and reminds you why you do what you do.”

Brad Shaw, ABE Instructor

Shelly Tanner (2012)

Shelly Tanner excels as the lone woman in a diesel mechanic program.

Then: A girl growing up in a family of truck drivers. Shelly’s experience with working on big trucks started early. While at Elgin High School Shelly turned to Great Plains Technology Center’s diesel mechanics technician program to

  • Improve skills as a mechanic and expand wiring and electricity knowledge.
  • Instill confidence in a male-dominated program.
  • Maintain her diesel pickup truck and to be able to help others with their vehicles.

Now: Shelly is considered by her instructors to be one of the best mechanics in the program. After high school graduation she plans to use her skills as a diesel mechanic to work her way through college to become a chiropractor.

Rebecca Thacker (2017)

No longer a “loser,” Meridian Tech grad says her children are proud of her.

Then: A single mother of four who described herself as a “loser mom in a dead-end job.” Rebecca Thacker was also the daughter of a single mom, and when her mother became ill, Rebecca dropped out of high school to help support her family. More than 20 years later Rebecca’s mother had passed away and Rebecca was going through a divorce. She decided it was time to make positive changes in her life.

After randomly choosing Oklahoma as the location for her metamorphosis, she worked 60 hours a week at two cooking jobs. Still not making ends meet, she studied at Meridian Technology Center to get her high school equivalency diploma and later decided to sign up for its business technology program in hopes of getting an office job. At Meridian Tech, Rebecca:

  • Was an officer for MTC’s Business Professionals of America chapter.
  • Took first place in the interview skills competition at the state BPA conference and fourth place at the national contest.
  • Completed a paid internship at Oklahoma CareerTech’s state agency.

Now: She is putting her skills to work as a technical support specialist at Oklahoma CareerTech. No longer an embarrassed high school dropout, Rebecca is both a high school grad and a graduate of Meridian Tech. She is a positive role model for her children and says her children even brag about her.

“My daughter said she wants to be me,” she said.

Tanner Thomas (2019)

Engineering student gets a head start on his college plans.

Then: Engineering has been his passion since he joined the Technology Student Association as a sixth grader. By eighth grade, Tanner Thomas was already an officer, and he served at the state level for four years, including state president during his junior year at Stillwater High School.

When Tanner enrolled in Meridian Technology Center’s pre-engineering program, he combined his love of engineering with his love of chemistry and physics. But when he learned he would have to give up music to make it all fit, he signed up for online classes so he could continue to play saxophone in his high school band. Tanner received first chair honors in soprano, alto and baritone saxophone in the All-State band in his sophomore and junior years.

Through TSA’s many leadership activities, Tanner learned

  • How to work well with others.
  • Presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Valuable study skills.

Tanner said he used his presentation and public speaking skills to compete in essay and speech competitions. Last year, his essay for Oklahoma Electric Cooperative’s Youth Tour contest earned him a trip to Washington D.C. He also applied those skills to political campaigns for school clubs and organizations such as TSA.

“Learning to clearly and effectively communicate my ideas helped me not only as a state officer,” he said, “but also in school projects and life situations such as interviews, meetings and speeches.”

Now: Tanner was honored with Distinction in Advanced Placement/Project Lead The Way, and recently placed third in the North American Saxophone Association competition. He recently received the Phi Beta Mu Outstanding Young Bandsman Award. He is attending Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music and McCormick's School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“If you want to be successful, you have to start now,” Tanner said. “Opportunities don’t present themselves; you have to look for them.”

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Taylor Thomas on Youth Tour

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Biotechnology grad tests the waters for a career in STEM.

A home-schooled student in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with a passion for science and math.