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