- Jessie Reagan, a graduate of Carl Albert State College, recently received the Outstanding Student/Graduate Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council. Pictured are, from left, Becki Foster, Oklahoma CareerTech chief of staff; Patrick Klein, Oklahoma DHS chief officer and division director of adult and family services; Reagan; and Bryce Fair, OSRHE associate vice chancellor for scholarships and grants.
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 nontraditional students.
Reagan was a 32-year-old single mother of five young children when she entered Carl Albert’s Power I program, said Ashley Watts, Power I Program specialist, who nominated her for the award. Reagan had attended a community college in another state, Watts said, but ended up on financial aid suspension. She had no direction and struggled with task completion and attendance, Watts added.
“Jessie eventually decided that college was her only option of making a better life for herself and her children, so our program worked on ways to get her enrolled,” Watts said.
In January 2017, Reagan enrolled in seven hours of college classes and “passed with flying colors,” Watts said. She filed a financial aid appeal and regained financial support. She became president of the Vike Fit Club and of Phi Beta Lambda and was a work-study student for the CASC science division. She also became a member of the Sequoyah County CCR/SART and advocates for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
She graduated from CASC in May 2019 with an associate degree in business administration. She now works for TheBod Church in Roland and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership at Northeastern State University.
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.