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Altus student succeeds in summer work program

Thursday, July 27, 2023

 ALTUS, Okla. – Sabrina Bertram from Altus successfully completed a statewide summer employment program that led to paychecks and valuable work experience through the BEST STEP summer employment program.

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation ServicesTransition program and OU National Center for Disability Education and Training’s Pre-Employment Transition Services offered BEST STEP for students with disabilities free of charge in 27 cities across the state in June and July.

BEST STEP is an acronym for Building Employment Skills Today and Summer Transition Employment Program.

The BEST part of the program is one week of pre-employment transition instruction, which took place at Altus High School.

During the STEP portion, eligible students worked up to 25 hours per week at $10 per hour for businesses in their communities. STEP salaries are primarily funded by Central Oklahoma Workforce Development Board.

Bertram worked closely with Animal Control Officer Haley Gilpatrick, who said, “She was a great worker, eager to learn and good with all the animals. She enjoyed seeing the cats every day, taking care of them and making sure they had everything they needed. “ 

“Working at the animal shelter was a huge area of interest with Sabrina,” said Susan Sanchez, Bertram’s DRS Vocational Rehabilitation counselor who coordinated BEST STEP in the Altus area. “I was glad that I volunteer with a local spay and neuter program, so I could contact the shelter and ask about the internship.”

“Sabrina learned a lot, and her mother asked about similar (employment) programs,” Sanchez said. “In the end, Sabrina was allowed to adopt a cat as an early birthday present from her mother.”

Sabrina Bertram, who attends Altus High School, said, “I liked helping at the animal shelter and I loved working with the animals. I would tell other kids that it is fun to go to and there are other people there that you can make friends with.  I learned that, and that you are supposed to show up on time and be nice to others.”

Employment consultants for Altus BEST STEP were from Job Connection, which assists DRS with job coaching for the area.

Grace Muirhead and Marshall Taylor were the OU’s Pre-Employment representatives.

BEST STEP students are DRS clients or potentially eligible to become clients with a documented disability. They are at least 16 years old.

“DRS Transition and OU Pre-ETS offers the BEST STEP program every summer,” Sanchez added. “We want more students with disabilities from Altus to participate next year.”

For more information, visit or phone 405-212-7789.

DRS Transition provides career planning and employment services to prepare students with disabilities for employment, postsecondary education and life after high school. Services may include career counseling, vocational evaluation, work adjustment training, on-the-job training, work study, and job development and placement. BEST is one many programs DRS offers in partnership with other agencies, public school systems and community organizations. 

The National Center for Disability Education and Training at The University of Oklahoma Outreach provides Pre-Employment Transition Service (Pre-ETS) activities to high school students with disabilities. Pre-ETS-career focused preparation activities include job exploration, work-based learning, workplace readiness, self-advocacy and postsecondary counseling.


Animal Control Officer Haley Gilpatrick (right) recognizes Sabrina Bertram for working as a kennel attendant during her BEST STEP internship at the Altus City Animal Shelter.

For more information

Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director

Cell: 405-203-1318