- Shaina Wills, a graduate of Moore Norman Technology Center, recently received the Outstanding Non-Traditional Student 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; Patrick Klein, Oklahoma DHS chief officer and division director of adult and family services; Wills; Matt Fix of Moore Norman Technology Center; and Lisa Brown, OkCTEEC president.
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.
Wills was referred to Moore Norman’s HIRE program by Baptist Homes for Children, where she lives with her three children; with background issues and a limited work history, she was looking for enjoyable work that would allow her to take care of herself and her family financially, said Matt Fix, MNTC HIRE coordinator, who nominated her for the award.
Wills entered the carpentry program at MNTC and, as part of her work, made a hall tree bench that was donated to Baptist Homes for Children for a charity auction, where it sold for $2,500, Fix said.
During a school break, Wills took an internship at Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman; after she completed the program, the hospital offered her a job, and during the second half of her studies, she regularly worked part-time at Griffin whenever school was on a break, Fix said.
“Shaina is someone that has overcome a rough start and has continually worked hard and persevered in order to achieve a better life for her and her children,” he said. “She chose a career that not many women go into and has done very well. She is going to be an asset to Griffin Memorial and will no doubt continue to be a success in all that she does.”
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.