Each year, thousands of Oklahomans reap the benefits provided by Career and Technology Education. CareerTech Champions tell the story of how individuals apply learning to become successful employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in business organizations.
Justine Talmadge – Adult Basic Education, Caddo Kiowa Technology Center
THEN: A recovering addict who started using drugs in seventh grade. Justine Talmadge was a mother of three who said she had no hopes, dreams or passions when she dropped out of high school. After spending six months in rehab, Justine said, she was clean and motivated. Her goal was to get her high school diploma and find a career.
“I didn’t want to be a nobody,” Justine said. “I wanted to prove I wasn’t stupid.”
She had tried to get her equivalency diploma three times before. She then enrolled in the adult basic education program at Caddo Kiowa Technology Center. Justine said ABE instructor Brad Shaw and the Caddo Kiowa staff helped her by
- Offering a scholarship that paid for her high school equivalency exam.
- Helping her discover her passion for welding, through a job fair on campus.
- Working with her to pass the high school equivalency exam that led to her diploma.
“It took me 15 years to figure out what I am good at,” Justine said, “and I am good at welding.”
NOW: Justine is well on her way to becoming a welder. She is halfway through her first year in the welding and metal fabrication program at Caddo Kiowa. She said welding instructors Keith Theesen and his assistant Shane Wilson played a major role in her success.
“Justine is that student who comes into your classroom and reminds you why you do what you do.”
ABE instructor Brad Shaw