- Patricia Lopez, a graduate of Northern Oklahoma College, recently received the Outstanding Student/Graduate 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; Lopez; 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 nontraditional students.
When Lopez came to NOC’s Project Achieve in October 2016, she was a single mother with limited job skills and four children, but knew she wanted a better life for her and her children, said Kelly Vinson, Project Achieve job developer, who nominated her for the award. She enrolled at NOC in January 2017 to pursue an associate degree in business administration.
Lopez graduated from NOC in December 2018 with a 3.75 GPA. A member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and Kappa Beta Delta, she has continued her education and plans to graduate in December from Northwestern Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration. She has maintained a 3.73 GPA at NWOSU.
“What stands out to me about Patricia is her love for her children and how she fights to provide for them,” Vinson said. “Her finances are limited; however, Patricia shows her children strength, courage and compassion. Her children are seeing the importance of education through their mother and even when times are tough to stick with it.”
Lopez worked in the accounting division of ADM Milling Co. in the summer and is interning in NOC’s finance division.
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.