- Deborah Garoutte, director of Project Achieve at Northern Oklahoma College’s Enid campus, recently received the Making It Work Day Spotlight Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council. Pictured are, from left, Bryce Fair, OSRHE associate vice chancellor for scholarships and grants; Becki Foster, Oklahoma CareerTech chief of staff; Garoutte; and Patrick Klein, Oklahoma DHS chief officer and division director of adult and family services.
She was one of 14 Oklahomans honored, along with four businesses and organizations, at the 26th annual Making It Work Day at the Capitol on Feb. 13. Making It Work Day recognizes individuals who are committed to removing barriers to success for single-parent families by providing educational experiences for students beyond the classroom. The presentations were made at a ceremony at the Oklahoma History Center. The ceremony also recognized
Garoutte has served the community of Enid in social services for more than 20 years and has been the director of Project Achieve since 2004, said Kelly Vinson, Project Achieve job developer, who nominated her for the award. Garoutte previously served in the U.S. Army.
She is an advocate for low-income families and her activities have included working with community partners to provide transportation to school for nursing students and speaking to Congress about services in rural counties, Vinson said. She recently helped write a grant to assist single parents on NOC campuses in Tonkawa, Stillwater and Enid.
“Ms. Garoutte has always been straightforward, and many times students have a hard time hearing the words that will ultimately drive them to success,” Vinson said. “As our students continue with their education process and pursue professional employment, they start seeing themselves in a different light. They start seeing themselves in the same light Deb saw in them from the beginning.”
OkCTEEC is affiliated with the administrative division of the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education. The council advocates for students pursuing nontraditional careers and for resources for educating single parents.
“The mission of OkCTEEC is to increase the awareness of collegiate and technical education by focusing on high expectations and full participation for all students and employees in career and education in Oklahoma. The Making It Work Day Ceremony is held to recognize those individuals, programs and business partners that have worked so hard throughout the year as well as bring a direct awareness to state senators and legislators,” said KayTee Niquette, Work Prep and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.
She serves as an adviser for OkCTEEC, along with Lisa French of the Department of Human Services and Gina McPherson of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
“Making it Work Day is our annual opportunity to spotlight the investment and hard work that is being done to empower our students who are single parents and most often first generation students who dream and want to pursue higher education,” said Lisa D. Brown, OkCTEEC president and director for career transitions at Oklahoma City Community College. “We encourage them to aspire to set goals as never before, take the steps to achieve those goals and then gain the confidence and success of completing those goals.
“Making it Work Day is their red carpet moment to celebrate these successes and to show and not just tell Oklahoma that this program and its funding is well spent and valuable to the lives of these individuals, not for that moment but for a lifetime. I often relate what we do to the story of the butterfly that finally leaves the cocoon being transformed as confident, beautiful, strong and free to soar.”
OkCTEEC’s purposes include promoting and supporting career and technology education, increasing its effectiveness, promoting research in the field and in educational equity, developing leadership and advocating for equity and diversity.