Category Archives: CareerTech Champions

CareerTech Champions

Dylan Moore – Mid-America Technology Center

The high school graduate from Elmore City saw a Facebook post about a new training program at Mid-America Technology Center and thought it might check off two boxes on his career checklist – money and travel.

Moore enrolled in Mid-America’s first lineworker technology class, and his instructor, Bruce Beam, said Moore met the challenge head-on and quickly became a sought-after employee.

“He always came to class ready to learn,” Beam said.

Beam uses a combination of indoor and outdoor labs and theory-based instruction, covering everything from pole climbing and framing to principles of electrical transmission and distribution. Students graduate with the skills they need to become high-voltage journeymen-lineworkers.

Moore is also a specialist E-4 in the U.S. Army Reserves, and it was his sergeant who told him about a job opening at MDR Powerline Construction in Stillwater. He was hired and started work just three days after his last class at Mid-America.

MDR specializes in constructing, repairing and upgrading utility lines, responding to everything from storm restoration to heavy construction. After two months on the job, Moore is making $24 an hour.

Beam described Moore as a “good student with a great attitude.”

CareerTech Champions

Valerie Dowis – High Plains Technology Center

There’s not much Valerie Dowis hasn’t done. A graduate of Fort Hays State University in Kansas, Dowis was a radiologic technologist for nine years, performing X-rays, CT scans, mammograms and fluoroscopic procedures.

The job market was tight in the area around her northwest Oklahoma home, so she decided to look into other career options. First, she drove a water truck in the oil field. Three years later, Dowis discovered High Plains Technology Center’s wind energy program.

Dowis enrolled at High Plains, where she learned about basic safety and electrical systems and how a turbine works. A job opportunity was waiting for her as soon as she completed the program, and she went to work as a wind tech with NextEra Energy Resources.

She quickly worked her way up in the company, accepting the site manager position when it became available, and was recently promoted to regional wind site manager.

“The training allowed me to get my foot in the door with NextEra, an opportunity I may not have had otherwise,” she said.

According to Dowis, her career has soared in the last five and a half years. She described every day as “an exciting day to go to work.” 

“It never gets boring,” Dowis said. “Because I love what I do, compensation isn’t even the most important piece of my career. But it’s a very nice perk.” 

In addition to her work at NextEra, Dowis said she also saves money by using her skills at home, doing electrical work she would have had to hire someone to do. 

“High Plains Technology Center is where it all began,” she said. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the need for wind turbine technicians will grow more than 50 percent by the end of this decade. 

CareerTech Champions

Science Academies Opened Doors to Medical Careers (and Romance) for Recent CareerTech Grads

What do sauerkraut and kombucha have to do with CareerTech? Both the holistic tea and the German cabbage dish involve fermentation, a process Ashley Powers said she learned about in the biomedical sciences program at Red River Technology Center in Duncan, Oklahoma 10 years ago.

Dr. Ashley Watson

Ashley enrolled at the technology center in high school. She wanted to become a doctor, but she was homeschooled and didn’t have access to the hands-on educational experiences that would be available at Red River.

At the tech center, she learned to make sauerkraut and kombucha, which she occasionally makes at home. But that science-based cooking lesson was just one of many life-changing benefits of the biomed program.

Flash forward nearly a decade, and Ashley Powers is now Dr. Ashley Watson. She is a resident physician at Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City, Missouri. In 2024, she hopes to complete her residency and receive her board certification.  

She credits Red River for helping her reach her career goals, but she gives additional credit to HOSA, for introducing her to her future husband and medical colleague.

Dr. Tyler Watson

HOSA is a co-curricular organization for students interested in health careers. Ashley’s involvement in that CareerTech student organization at Red River led her to Tyler Watson, then HOSA state president. Their paths hadn’t crossed at school, because Tyler attended Francis Tuttle Technology Center. Ashley was president of her local HOSA chapter, however, and one day she reached out to Tyler for advice.

“She was looking at colleges and wanted to know more about the biology/pre-med program at the University of Oklahoma,” Tyler said. “We started talking, and the rest is history.”

(Well, the rest is science, actually.)

Today, Tyler is completing his medical residency in Missouri, alongside his wife.  Like Ashley, he credits Oklahoma CareerTech for laying the groundwork for his medical career.

In 2013, Tyler was a Putnam City High School student. He said he enrolled in Francis Tuttle’s biosciences and medicine academy because he wanted a challenge. The academy offered that challenge, as well as insight into potential career paths.

“I loved science and I knew I wanted to pursue more rigorous training than what my high school alone could offer,” Tyler said, “but I wasn’t yet committed to a specific career path.”

In their respective programs at separate tech centers, the two received invaluable technical skills as well as life skills. Ashley said Red River prepared her for the rigorous medical training that followed. Her new acquired skill set included public speaking, study skills, and an understanding of experimental design.

“These skills have made my life richer and have made transitions through seasons in my career go more smoothly,” she said.

Tyler also credits CareerTech for his public speaking skills.

“I’m fairly shy by nature,” he said. “I still struggle with public speaking but learning those foundational skills as a high schooler allowed me to compensate for and improve my social interactions over time, giving me confidence to approach intimidating situations.”

Francis Tuttle also helped Tyler become more adaptable, he said. An important life skill for a student and a doctor.

“Learning to adapt early to academic challenges and new situations has made life run more smoothly,” he said.

After graduating from their respective technology centers, the Watsons followed nearly identical higher education paths, eventually receiving their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degrees from Oklahoma State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

For Tyler and Ashley, CareerTech was a college-prep experience. But Tyler said for some of their fellow HOSA members, CareerTech was their primary vocational training.

“CareerTech directly and successfully prepared them for a career,” Tyler said. “For all of us, choosing CareerTech showed a dedication to improving skills necessary for a career.”

Ashley’s CareerTech experience offered her the applied learning experience she had wanted as a high schooler.

“CareerTech grads offer employers a spectrum of highly-qualified individuals who have experienced hands-on training beyond what an academic-only setting can provide,” she said. “They are an essential part of today’s workforce.”  

They’ve studied together, worked together and lived together. But even though their education and career paths have been similar, their approaches to medicine are different, according to Tyler. As a result, the two have learned to divide up tasks according to each person’s strengths.

“I’m more mechanically minded and better at administration,” Tyler said, “and Ashley tends to be more holistically minded and better at public relations.”

After the Watsons receive their board certifications, they plan to return to Oklahoma to practice medicine. 

CareerTech Champions

Brighton Snow – Mid-America Technology Center and BPA

Brighton Snow has his own production company and manages social media networks for large businesses. His company creates marketing videos, promotional graphics and advertising imagery for his clients. Not bad for a small-town boy with one semester of college under his belt.

Snow grew up in Washington, a south-central Oklahoma town with just over 600 people. He toured Mid-America Technology Center as an eighth grader, but he would have to wait more than two years before he could enroll.

He was so excited he could barely wait. Snow had a passion for multimedia, and when he discovered he could attend the tech center while he was in high school, he seized the opportunity.

“I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without CareerTech,” he said.

The hands-on learning environment appealed to Snow, who said he loved being able to learn with industry-leading technology.

“In the multimedia industry, technology is always improving and changing,” he said. “Mid-America gave me the resources to learn film production, graphic design and social media marketing. I can confidently create marketing videos, promotional graphics and advertising imagery using the career skills I’ve learned.”

Snow joined Oklahoma Business Professionals of America, serving as state president in 2021. He competed in BPA events, using skills such as using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, operating a camera and editing video. He has won nearly a dozen awards, including the title of world champion in social media management two years in a row.

In addition to his technical skills, Snow said, he also gained confidence.

“My adviser, Paxton Cavin, had a huge impact on me,” he said. “She always motivates me to be the best.”

That confidence helped Snow become one of only three Oklahoma students selected as U.S. Presidential Scholars in 2022.

He said CareerTech taught him the value of hard work, honesty and dedication, attributes he no doubt implements as he simultaneously runs a business and continues his education. Snow is enrolled at Oklahoma State University and after college plans to start a marketing company designed to help local farmers explore new marketing platforms.

“Local farmers often don’t know how to take advantage of social media,” he said. 

From Homeless Teen to Aircraft Quality Assurance Specialist

Porsha Lippincott’s Story

Porsha’s life changed when a counselor helped her find housing and a CareerTech aerospace program she resonated with. Today, she’s an accomplished Quality Assurance Specialist at Tinker Air Force Base. We caught up with her to hear the next chapter of her story.

To read more about Porsha click HERE.

CareerTech Champions

T.H. Rogers Lumber Company

Lumber company builds its business with CareerTech guidance

The T.H. Rogers Lumber Company has been in business for more than 100 years, and the employee-owned small business is still growing, thanks to help from OkPTAC, CareerTech’s procurement technical assistance center.

The company supplies building materials to professional builders, contractors, remodelers and homeowners. Government jobs are an important part of its revenue stream, and OkPTAC has helped them with government contracting since 2018.

Ron DeGiacomo (L) and Scott Logan (R)

In the early stages of this partnership, Ron DeGiacomo, the OkPTAC coordinator at Kiamichi Technology Centers, helped register T.H. Rogers as a federal contractor and tailored a profile to highlight the company’s capability and the products it sells. This profile is used to match the client with bid opportunities on buying agency bid sites.

“We had bid for local government jobs,” said Iva Due, district manager for T.H. Rogers, “but we wanted to grow our share of the market in state and federal opportunities.”

That’s where DeGiacomo came in.

“Anytime there is a project out there that we are a good fit for, Ron lets us know,” said Due. “He is always looking for any opportunity to help our business and community grow.” 

Since 2019, T.H. Rogers has won various contracts with federal agencies totaling more than $500,000 in award dollars. 

The partnership between Kiamichi Tech and T.H. Rogers Lumber Company has been beneficial to both organizations and to the community. Scott Logan, outside sales and assistant manager, serves on Kiamichi Tech’s Business and Education Council, which connects students and jobs and matches training to workforce needs. T.H. Rogers participates in job fairs and has hired students who have completed training at Kiamichi Tech.

CareerTech Champions

Rachel Blackmon – Canadian Valley Technology Center and SkillsUSA

Rachel Blackmon is a hairdresser, master barber instructor and manager of an upscale hair salon in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Blackmon received a certification from Canadian Valley Technology Center several years ago, while she was a student at Ninnekah High School. But it wasn’t a cosmetology certification she received from CVTech. Blackmon chose a slightly less conventional career path.

Living in a tiny town and attending a tiny school, Blackmon wanted to get away, even if it was only for a few hours a day, she said. She hoped CareerTech would offer her that opportunity, as well as give her career skills for the future. She enrolled at CVTech’s Chickasha campus, her closest technology center, as a junior in high school.

That technology center campus didn’t offer a cosmetology program, however, so Blackmon chose graphic design. She joined SkillsUSA, the CareerTech student organization aligned with trade and industrial education, and competed at both the state and national level. She placed first at the state contest in the Customer Service event.

“Practicing and competing in that was a big help for what I do now as a service provider and manager of a hair salon,” she said. “I think it would have been a much longer road to being able to work well with clients, staff and students if I hadn’t learned these skills early on.” 

Blackmon said she enjoyed everything about CareerTech, so much so that while she was at CVTech she served as student ambassador.

“I adored my teacher, Traci McNeff,” she said. “She is the one who encouraged me to join the ambassador program and compete in SkillsUSA. She saw potential I didn’t know I had. I believe that all the staff members there have the same heart for their students.”

McNeff taught Blackmon valuable computer skills in the graphic design program, as well as public speaking skills. Blackmon said the competitions boosted her self-confidence. Now, as a cosmetologist, she uses all of these skills to market and advertise her services and build her clientele.

“I would absolutely recommend going to CareerTech to anyone,” she said.

After high school, Rachel attended a private barber school and received her barber’s license and master barber instructor license. 

CareerTech Champions

Donna Spiva-Doggett – Meridian Technology Center

In the 1980s, Donna Spiva-Doggett said she wasn’t cut out for college. She had no job skills and no real plans for her future. Flash ahead about 36 years, and that undecided graduate from Perkins-Tryon High School is now senior manager of fiscal operations for the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University.

The path was a bit unconventional, but it got her there. The high school junior thought she might like an office job, so she enrolled in the office procedures program at what was then known as Indian Meridian Vo-Tech (now called Meridian Technology Center). She also joined FBLA, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with business marketing and information technology education. (That organization is now called BPA.)

At Meridian Tech, Spiva-Doggett became proficient in typing and other basic office skills that were considered necessary.

“These skills changed the trajectory of my life,” she said.

She graduated from Meridian Tech in 1988 and got the office job she wanted. She worked at OSU as a senior clerk typist for $800 a month, and although that wasn’t enough money to change her trajectory, it was about more than just the salary.

“By working with and among such educated, accomplished people,” she said, “I began to want some of that success for myself.”

After working at OSU for 10 years, she decided to try college from a student’s perspective. In 2004, Spiva-Doggett received her Bachelor of Science in finance.

“If I hadn’t gotten my foot in the door with that clerk typist job in 1989,” she said, “I don’t know where I would be now. What began as a job is now a very gratifying career with both financial and personal rewards.”

In 2022, Spiva-Doggett set up The Don Spiva Scholarship Fund in honor of her father, who died in 2000 at the age of 55. The scholarship is designed for Meridian Tech students who need assistance with uniforms, books, required supplies, tools, equipment or certification fees. Selection is based on financial need as well as ability to successfully complete the program and enter the workforce. 

CareerTech Champions

Montgomery Malone – Western Technology Center

CareerTech helped newspaper editor outline his career plans

After high school, Montgomery Malone had no interest in college and no plans for a career. He decided to enroll at Western Technology Center for additional training and took an interest inventory to help him choose a program. The results suggested he might be good at photo editing and media development.

Malone loved to write, and the two skillsets seemed to mesh with each other. He enrolled in WTC’s multimedia program, where he learned how to use programs such as InDesign and Photoshop. He also improved his communication skills. By the time he completed the program, he was a certified digital video technician and multimedia specialist.

Malone took his new career skills to the Weatherford Daily News, where he said he uses his multimedia and communication skills daily. He is currently city editor for the newspaper.

“What I experienced during my training at WTC and my love for writing all came together for this position,” he said.

His favorite part of his job at the Daily News is that he has the freedom to be creative.

“And people listen to my ideas,” he said.

At last week’s Oklahoma Press Association awards banquet in Oklahoma City, Malone won first place for an in-depth enterprise story. 

CareerTech Champions

Kacey Hawkins – Metro Technology Centers

Metro Tech student has her future buttoned up.

Kacey Hawkins knew she loved social media, and she didn’t want a “regular 9-to-5 job.” That’s where the Trinity School student started in her career planning process. Trinity is an Oklahoma City school that serves children with learning differences.

While in high school, Hawkins enrolled at Metro Technology Centers, first completing the cinematography program and then tackling web design. In the cinematography program, Hawkins learned video editing, lighting and special effects. But she picked up several soft skills at Metro Tech as well, including time management, problem-solving, and of course the importance of spell check.

She said she has also learned a lot about photo editing and is working on her Photoshop certification.

“Mrs. Roberts, my instructor, is like my school mom. She gives us a real perspective of what it’s like to work in the industry, and she encouraged me to get certified,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins graduated high school and plans to build her own business. Still hungry for knowledge, she recently enrolled in Metro Tech’s graphic design program and has started making custom buttons for special events.

As a child, Hawkins remembers helping her mom make custom buttons. But the button-making tradition goes back even further.

“My grandma told me she used to make buttons for rodeo cowboys,” she said. “She gave me her button supplies, so I have an inventory for my business!”

Hawkins recently used those supplies and her new skills to make buttons for a project commissioned by her school counselor in recognition of National Button Day. 

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