Western Oklahoma State College Learning Resource Center director
Suzanne Rooker, director of the Learning Resource Center at Western Oklahoma State College, recently received the Outstanding Community Partner/Agency Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council.
She was one of 12 Oklahomans honored, along with four businesses and organizations, at the 27th annual Making It Work Day at the Capitol in a virtual ceremony April 30. 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 ceremony also recognized nontraditional students.
Rooker has been one of the POWER Program’s most valuable community partners, said Leslie Brown, POWER Program director, who nominated her for the award. The POWER Program helps adults who need career training or retraining. POWER students have had work-based learning assignments at the Learning Resource Center for many years, Brown said.
“Suzanne is always helpful and a great mentor for the students,” she said. “She has taught students the skills of working in a learning resource center in addition to the soft skills of a job like being on time and dressing appropriately. Suzanne offers students an opportunity to learn a new career that the student may have never considered before.”
The students learn to use computer software like Microsoft Word, Access and Excel as well as software designed for libraries, Brown said. In addition to learning library skills, she added, they learn to follow instructions and complete assigned tasks and work in teams to complete projects and plan and host events.
“Suzanne is quiet and sweet, but tough when she needs to be,” Brown said. “She encourages students on work study or work-based training to be better employees, to shine at what they do.”
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 Making It Work Day ceremony is such an important part of OkCTEEC as it publicly acknowledges those students, programs and business partners that have done an outstanding job meeting their career goals,” said KayTee Niquette, Work Prep and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. “The event this year is even more important, as we have persevered through a pandemic and still have individuals who have excelled.”
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic created challenges, said Lisa D. Brown, OkCTEEC president and director for career transitions at Oklahoma City Community College, but students, faculty, staff and community partners met the challenges head-on, redesigning traditional methods of assistance and education.
“These students have persevered through the many changes in their pursuit of their goals and even some events in their own families,” she said. “In addition to their academic success, they have strengthened even more skills in communication, collaboration, adaptation and endurance that will be of great benefit as valuable life skills they will never forget they developed or discovered they had.”
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.