School for the Blind nurse completes vocational rehabilitation degree
MUSKOGEE, Okla. — One career is just not enough for Karla Cunningham. She’s someone who always dreamed about learning more.
For 31 years, the Muskogee resident has cared for students as a licensed practical nurse level III at Oklahoma School for the Blind. Her career with the State of Oklahoma began in 1988.
“Forty years ago, I wanted to go Langston (University) to study nursing, but I raised my children first,” Cunningham said.
“I met a lot of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired counselors when they worked with clients in a summer school program at OSB first called ABLE and now VIBE,” Cunningham said. “The students were in a cocoon when they first got there, but at the end of the week, the resistant kids were like butterflies and made me want to study vocational rehabilitation too.”
OSB and Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired are divisions of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
When her youngest children who are twins graduated from Muskogee High School, she returned to school herself at Langston University.
After approximately four years of attending class and working full time, Cunningham completed a bachelor’s of science degree in rehabilitation services in May 2022.
She earned a place on the President's Honor Roll, which recognizes students with a 4.0 grade point average.
Cunningham plans to return to Langston University to complete her master’s of science in rehabilitation counseling.
“I really want to continue working at Oklahoma School for the Blind because I want to work with our students as they transition out of the school to gainful employment,” Cunningham said.
“I am so proud of Karla Cunningham!,” OSB Superintendent Rita Echelle said. “Her perseverance and determination are a great example to OSB students to never give up on their dreams. Ms. Cunningham is a valued employee who cares deeply about the students and is an inspiration to all.”
The Oklahoma School for the Blind is the statewide resource for the education of students who are blind and visually impaired. Residential and commuter students meet all state-approved education requirements and receive specialized instruction in braille, orientation and mobility, optimum use of low vision, adaptive equipment technology and tactile graphic skills not readily available at other public schools in the state. OSB provides hundreds of free outreach services each year, including free evaluations and consultations, for students attending local public schools, their families and local school staff. For more information, phone 877-229-7136 toll free or visit http://osb.k12.ok.us/.
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Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director