Garrett Hall – Central Technology Center, FFA and SkillsUSA
Plan B sparked a new career for high school athlete
Garrett Hall suffered a stroke when he was 16 years old. The Cushing High School student, who had been active in football, wrestling, track, band and FFA, was suddenly faced with building a future much different than the one he and his parents had envisioned.
Both of Hall’s parents were graduates of Meridian Technology Center, and his mother had worked in the CareerTech System since Hall was in elementary school. It was her CareerTech connections (and his father’s advice) that helped him create a new and improved plan for his future.
“My father would always tell me to get into a trade everyone needed, so I would never be out of work and I’d always be able to provide for a family,” Hall said.
His mother introduced him to Robert Neil, electrical trades instructor at Central Technology Center. After a conversation about the program and the wide range of career opportunities in electrical trades, Hall enrolled. He attended Central Tech his junior and senior years of high school and added SkillsUSA to his list of extracurricular activities.
With Neil as his mentor, Hall developed a new skillset. Through FFA and SkillsUSA, he improved his communication skills and learned how to work as part of a team, skills he would use throughout his life.
“My teamwork skills taught me that certain people might be better suited for other tasks, and I should let them take the lead on those parts rather than taking on the whole project myself,” he said.
In FFA, Hall competed at the state and national level on ag science, electrical shop and skeet shooting teams. His teams won several state medals, and he and another student even teamed up to earn a gold medal at the national FFA competition. He also competed at the state SkillsUSA contest.
Neil taught him basic electrical safety, and Hall received OSHA 30 certification. He also spent much of his class time learning how to troubleshoot and solve problems.
“I learned to break down the issue and find out what is causing the problem so I can fix it,” he said. “This skill has helped me tremendously.”
The Cushing teenager has made the most of a tragic situation. In 2010, he was named Central Tech Student of the Year, and after high school, he earned his associate degree from Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, graduating magna cum laude.
Hall worked as a heavy commercial/industrial electrician in Texas until, once again, his mentor changed the trajectory of his life. Neil recruited Hall to teach in the electrical controls program at Tulsa Technology Center. In addition to teaching, Hall is working on a bachelor’s degree at OSU-IT and plans to follow that with a master’s degree, ultimately moving into an administrative position.
“Being able to attend CareerTech and learn electrical trades gave me hope in my recovery and life.”
(Garrett Hall, electrical journeyman)