An emergency led Heather Yazdanipour to a career as an EMT.
Then: Her arm was crushed in an industrial accident, and she was unable to return to her current job. Heather Yazdanipour said her employer offered her the opportunity for vocational education through CareerTech.
Before the accident, Yazdanipourwas pursuing an art degree. Everyone in her family worked in the medical field, so when she was forced to reevaluate her career, she decided to follow their leads. She said the paramedic program at Metro Technology Centers sounded interesting. She enrolled and said she quickly “got the medical bug.”
After completing the paramedic training at Metro Tech, Yazdanipour
Worked for an ambulance service in Oklahoma City.
Taught EMT basic at Metro Tech.
Worked her way up to teaching the paramedic program.
Now: Yazdanipour used her Metro Tech training to create a paramedic program at EMSA. She continued to work her way up and is now in charge of EMSA’s disaster management program, with divisions in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
2020 has been called a lot of things, and most of them aren’t very nice. But at least one positive situation has emerged from this challenging year – a profound appreciation of our frontline health care workers.
As COVID-19 fills hospitals with critically ill patients, nursing homes battle the virus among its patients and staff, and front line nurses give countless COVID tests and now…vaccines…now, more than ever, Oklahomans owe a debt of gratitude to workers in the health care industry and those who train health care workers.
We talk about the worldwide nursing shortage and its effect on Oklahoma’s health care system.
Connie Romans tells us about a generous gift from a CareerTech grad that’s benefiting health care educators and students across the state.
We hear about some of the challenges of training students for health careers – in the middle of a pandemic.
We’re reminded that men and women can follow whatever career path they choose…especially in health care!
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Beyond Your Horizon — Articles, videos, and bonus content
Then: Not your typical high school freshman. Corey Martin was a gifted artist, and even as a high school freshman, he loved to sew. Martin said his family and consumer sciences teacher (then home ec) recruited him for her class. There, the Okeene High School student flourished. He used his artistic skills to decorate for school events, such as the school’s annual style show, and he sewed for competitive events. Martin graduated from Fort Cobb-Broxton High School, and said his involvement in FHA (now FCCLA) taught him
Basic life skills like setting up a budget and balancing a checkbook.
“Through FHA I developed as a leader and a communicator,” he said. “These skills have become very valuable in my adult life, both professionally and personally.”
Martin said the most valuable lesson he learned was to appreciate people. He learned the importance of creating a network of peers and friends, which is extremely important in the theater industry.
In college, Martin majored in musical theater and costume design. He designed theatrical productions and began working from home, creating costumes and evening wear for individual clients. From 2007-2010, he worked as an installer on cruise ships. On the ships he fit, altered and repaired costumes for the new performers.
Now: A member of IATSE 705 Motion Picture Costumers Union. Martin is listed as a women’s custom-made pattern maker, fitter and tailor and has worked in 11 states and 22 countries. Most recently, he was working on a new series for Amazon, not yet released. He hopes to continue to work in the film and TV industry. Martin has started writing and hopes to create a movie or series of his own.
“I often serve as a leader in whatever costume shop or production I am working on. If I had not developed my sewing skills and the leadership qualities I learned in FHA, I would not be where I am today.” Corey Martin, costume designer
This nursing student is paying for college one vial at a time.
THEN: A rodeo queen who grew up riding horses and competing in rodeos. Logan Drury loved her equestrian activities, but she always knew she wanted to be a nurse. The Mulhall-Orlando high school student knew a nursing career would require college, which would require money — which would require skills. Not a problem for this forward-thinking young woman! Drury enrolled in Meridian Technology Center’s health careers program, hoping to learn skills that would allow her to supplement her income and find work in a field she enjoyed while she was going to college. At Meridian Tech, she
Learned time management and project prioritization.
Learned venipuncture and how to draw blood.
Learned patient care.
Was a member of HOSA – Future Health Professionals, the career and technology student organization associated with health careers education.
“I enjoyed the hands-on approach of my classes, and I loved the fact that my instructors were actually nurses themselves,” she said. “They didn’t just read or lecture about health careers; they drew from their own experiences.”
After completing the health careers program, Drury passed the National Healthcareer Association’s phlebotomy exam and became a certified phlebotomy technician.
NOW: Drury works as a phlebotomist at Stillwater Medical Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Because she is certified, she started at a higher pay rate when she was hired. She attends nursing school at Northern Oklahoma College. Her initial goal is to become a registered nurse, eventually obtaining a bachelor of science in nursing degree and possibly a doctor of nursing practice degree.
“Many times, students think you have to either go to college or go to work. With CareerTech, you can do both.”
Newlywed finds one-stop shop to support his growing family.
THEN: Newly married and working a part-time job with no idea what route to take for a career. After Ike McVicker graduated from Woodward High School in 2011 and got married, his mother-in-law mentioned to him that High Plains Technology Center had a wind program. He spoke to school representatives and loved what they had to say, so he enrolled. Through the program, he
Learned all aspects of the wind industry from a high-level view down to the small details of how to troubleshoot and use basic tools.
Became certified in several emergency rescue devices that are used in the wind industry as well as in Microsoft Excel.
Learned how to build a resume and developed interview skills.
Installed his own sprinkler system at his home using the skills he learned in electrical and hydraulic systems.
NOW: McVicker is the manager of two wind farms near Woodward. His responsibilities include maintaining the high voltage substation, the turbines themselves and everything in between. He is responsible for the wind farms meeting all of the performance metrics and being safe while doing so.
“A job in the wind industry is stable; it’s challenging but still fun,” he said. “By having that great, stable job you’re able to provide for your family, which is ultimately most people’s end goal, I think.
“High Plains was a one-stop shop for me. My goal was to get a job, but what I ended up getting is more than that. You get so many more skills, and you learn that getting a job or being qualified for a job is a lot more than you would think.”
McVicker says almost all the technicians at his locations have come from the High Plains wind program.
“We feel like there’s so much value in hiring people who have come through this program. They’re committed, they’re trained, and they’re ready to go,” he said.
Joe Muchiri Wathika – Francis Tuttle Technology Center and BPA
Then: His classmates saw a shy young immigrant from Kenya with a heavy African accent that was difficult to understand. Joe Muchiri Wathika said he wanted to learn how to edit videos, so the Deer Creek High School student enrolled in Sherri Gleaves’ class at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. Wathika learned the ins and outs of broadcast and video production, but he said those skills aren’t the ones that changed his life.
Wathika described himself as a self-conscious, introverted teenager before he enrolled. He tried to withdraw into a shell, but his instructor continually challenged him to do more. He rose to Gleaves’ challenges and served as a chapter, state and even national president in Business Professionals of America, the CareerTech leadership organization for students in business, marketing and information technology education.
“Mrs. Gleaves helped me cultivate character and a sense of responsibility that continues to transform my life,” Wathika said.
In addition to self-confidence and positive character development, he said he gained public speaking skills and study habits that enabled him to
Receive the Chesapeake Scholarship to study economics at Oklahoma City University.
Receive the Gilman and Boren scholarships to study Chinese in Taiwan.
Hold multiple leadership positions in student government and lead the ethics debate team.
“Choosing to be involved in CareerTech was the most important and impactful decision I made in high school,” he said. Now: Wathika is a financial services representative at Oklahoma’s Credit Union. He said he uses the skills he learned from Gleaves’ class every day. He is able to clearly communicate to members, and as a result of Gleaves’ mentorship, Wathika has built a character based on integrity, humility and honesty.
“I definitely owe it all to the marvelous woman, Mrs. Gleaves! She was a universe, more than a teacher!” Joe Muchiri Wathika, Oklahoma’s Credit Union
Raylynn Thompson – Indian Capital Technology Center and HOSA
Biomed program is just what this future doctor ordered.
THEN: A voracious learner who said she ran out of classes to take by the time she was a sophomore in high school. Raylynn Thompson had completed pre-AP biology and the introductory Project Lead The Way courses at Muskogee High School. When she heard about Indian Capital Technology Center’s biomedical academy, she knew it was a perfect fit. She enrolled as a high school junior in order to take the advanced classes she needed to reach her medical career goals.
Raylynn worked long, hard hours to complete the biomed program. She even found time to serve as chapter president of HOSA, the CareerTech student organization for future
health professionals. Her efforts earned her the designation of Stern Award Recipient Valedictorian of her high school class, with a weighted GPA of 4.7. When she graduated from MHS, Raylynn had already earned 31 college credits.
She attributes much of her success to Indian Capital, which helped her
Gain acceptance into 65 universities.
Receive multiple full-ride scholarships.
Develop classroom skills that allow her to better understand college coursework.
The academy provided Raylynn with a knowledge base that allows her to better grasp concepts in her college biology and calculus courses.
“Since I was exposed to it early on,” she said, “I understand it better, easier and faster.”
NOW: Raylynn accepted a full-ride scholarship at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi, where she enrolled as a sophomore biology major with a concentration on medicine. She said that although the curriculum is challenging, she finds herself assisting classmates who are further along in their education.
She plans to graduate from ASU in three years. She then plans to go to medical school to become a neonatologist, a pediatrician who specializes in the care of newborn infants.
“CareerTech students begin with the end in mind, so they don’t undervalue the work they’re doing.”
Tech Center helped Enid men cook up a plan for their new business.
THEN: Two backyard grill masters with an idea for a new business. Eldon Campbell and
Tyler Tate thought Enid, Oklahoma, needed a place where fellow grillers could go for all their meat and grilling needs. They entered their business idea in Autry Technology Center’s Cherokee Strip Business Model Competition in 2014. It was apparently a pretty good idea, because the men won $10,500 and services from Autry Tech.
Tate said the competition helped them prepare for the next steps in their entrepreneurship. He said the contest helped them get organized enough to:
Buy equipment and hire an architect.
Move into the Strate Center to continue to develop their business idea.
Develop the correct plans to provide to potential investors when they pitched their idea.
NOW: Campbell and Tate are the proud owners of T&C Meats, a retail meat market in Enid. They moved into their own facility in 2017 and carry a wide variety of specialty meats, cheeses, hand-crafted sausages and bratwurst, seasonings and more. T&C makes their own snack sticks and jerky. They also provide specialized barbecue and dry-aged steaks
“Autry Technology Center is an unbelievable resource people need to take advantage of.”
Tyler Tate, business owner
Nontraditional is becoming a tradition for female diesel services technician.
THEN: A soft-spoken woman whose goal was to provide a better life for her and her family. Leisha Mahseet wanted a career that could do help her do that, and she wasn’t afraid of hard work. Leisha didn’t set out to break any stereotypes; she just wanted to make a decent living. She enrolled in Caddo Kiowa Technology Center’s diesel services tech program, and once she started the hands-on training, she said, she loved it. At CKTC, Leisha
Earned ASE student certifications in engines, brakes, steering and suspension and electrical.
Maintained excellent grades, positioning herself at the top of her class.
Served as a strong role model for her classmates as well as for women considering nontraditional careers.
Her instructor said Leisha is a natural leader.
“She’s a perfect example of someone who breaks traditions and promotes equity in a male-dominated industry,” Allan Leatherbury said.
Breaking traditions is nothing new for Leisha. She was the first female employee to work at the top of the wind turbines for the Blue Canyon Wind Farm near Apache.
NOW: Leisha completed the diesel services tech program and went on to earn her commercial driver’s license through CKTC’s truck driver training program.
“I feel this is just the beginning for Leisha,” said Leatherbury. “She’s done quite well in the program, and I expect she will be even more successful in the field.”
THEN: He came from a long line of veterans and dreamed of attending the U.S. Naval Academy. Asher High School sophomore Skyler Riggle enrolled in Gordon Cooper Technology Center’s pre-engineering academy, where he had the opportunity to explore and investigate engineering careers. As well as tackling hands-on college prep activities in mathematics and science, Skyler also
Competed with the school’s robotics team.
Was chosen as one of only 300 students in the country to receive the prestigious Gates Scholarship.
Received a conditional offer to the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School.
Received the valedictorian scholarship from the University of Oklahoma.
NOW: Once he’s been officially accepted to the USNA, Skyler will have to choose between OU and USNA Preparatory School, where he would complete a 10-month course to prepare for the Naval Academy.
Skyler’s principal and counselor Shawna Magby said Skyler was not your typical high school student.
“He’s very diligent, responsible and self-motivated,” she said.