Category Archives: Health Careers Education

CareerTech Champions

Emily Trail – Meridian Technology Center

CareerTech grad takes her new career path to heart.

Then: A disappointed applicant who had been denied acceptance into a college nursing program. Emily Trail was determined to become a nurse, however, and the Texas native said she’d heard great things about Meridian Technology Center. Trail enrolled in Meridian Tech’s licensed practical nurse program and immediately discovered her passion. In the LPN program, she

  • Learned critical thinking skills for nursing and critical thinking skills for her daily life.
  • Learned basic nursing techniques such as how to insert an IV, draw blood and properly remove staples and sutures.
  • Learned study habits and time management skills that helped her pass her Health Education Systems Inc. entrance exam for the registered nurse program.
  • Gained social skills that help her respond to patient concerns.
  • Received her phlebotomist certification and LPN license.

“Before I enrolled in the LPN program, I was a procrastinator – not only on my schoolwork, but also in my everyday tasks,” she said. “The LPN program forced me to get things done early, which has significantly lowered my stress level.”

Trail said she uses the skills she learned at Meridian Tech every day in her job.

She also said the program provided her with a network of good friends.

“My favorite experiences from Meridian were the memories I made with my friends,” she said. “No matter what time of day it was, I could always count on them to help me if I needed them. We were attached at the hip during this program and literally did everything together, including daily study sessions.”

Now: A nursing student at Northern Oklahoma College and a nurse in the cardiology clinic at Stillwater Medical Center.

“I think CareerTech education is a great thing, especially for high school students who want to get a head start on their future careers,” she said.

“CareerTech prepares students not only for the field they are studying for, but it also prepares them for future educational options by teaching good study habits and critical thinking abilities for life and in the workplace.”

Emily Trail – Cardiology Nurse

CareerTech Champions

Delaney Medcalf – Southern Technology Center

CareerTech background made college “easy” for this biology student.

THEN: Auditing a biotechnology class at Southern Technology Center as a high school sophomore. When the instructor invited Delaney Medcalf to participate in the lab portion of class that day, she knew instantly she was in the right place.

“I had never had that kind of hands-on science experience,” the Lone Grove High School graduate said.

Medcalf enrolled in the two-year biotech program at Southern Tech, where she learned

  • How to properly use lab equipment and perform sterile technique.
  • How to culture microbes.
  • How to think critically and to express or explain those thoughts.

She also gained numerous life skills. Medcalf said the program gave her self-confidence and improved her communication skills, as well as teaching her patience, teamwork and the importance of building connections with professors.

“Most importantly,” she said, “the biotech program reinforced my love and passion for science.”

Medcalf passed the Biotechnician Assistant Certification Exam and completed the biotech CAPSTONE program at the Noble Research Institute, her contributions for which were published in a New Zealand paper. Because of her new skills and achievements, she was chosen as a 2019 Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Fleming Scholar in her senior year, which included a paid internship after high school.

In college, Medcalf said, she breezed through her courses because of the foundation she got from Southern Tech.

“The biotech program gave me such high standards that honestly, college labs have been a big disappointment,” she said.

NOW: A student at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, Oklahoma, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology with a triple minor in liberal arts, psychology and chemistry. After graduation, Medcalf plans to get her master’s degree, go to medical school and get her Ph.D. She would like to be a dietitian or emergency medicine doctor.

“Choosing CareerTech was the best choice I could have made, and it definitely changed the trajectory of my college experience.”

Delaney Medcalf, college student

CareerTech Essential to Meet Workforce Needs

A qualified workforce is critical to the state’s economic well-being and will be vital to its recovery following the pandemic. Oklahoma CareerTech, which has long been a major component of Oklahoma’s economic engine, will play a starring role in this recovery.

Through a network of 399 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 13 skills center sites and 32 adult basic education providers, the strengths of Oklahoma’s CareerTech System include accessibility and flexibility.

Through partnerships with business and industry, Oklahoma CareerTech has responded quickly to the state’s immediate workforce needs by providing customized career training in a wide range of industries, including health care, agriculture, aerospace and energy.

Read more in CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack’s guest column in The Journal Record.

Oklahoma HOSA members, advisers recognized

Three Oklahoma HOSA advisers were recognized as Outstanding Local Advisers at the virtual HOSA International Leadership Conference.

Receiving the honor were Bobbie Sue Joslin, Wes Watkins Technology Center; Paula Estrada, Central Technology Center; and Lulla Wilson, Emerson Middle School in Oklahoma City.

Also at the conference, Julia Lewis, Indian Capital Technology Center, received a HOSA Hero Award for performing CPR and helping save a man’s life. David Kelly, former Oklahoma HOSA state president and HOSA national president, received a Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

In the Anatomage competition at the conference, Super Baguettes from Tulsa Technology Center’s biomedical sciences high school extension program at Union High School placed third, and Team Rads for Life from Metro Technology Centers’ radiologic technology program placed fourth. This was Oklahoma HOSA’s first time to compete in the Anatomage event at the International Leadership Conference.

In competitions, Oklahoma HOSA members received three first places, four second places, five third places, four fourth places, six fifth places, five sixth places, three seventh places, two eighth places, one ninth place and three 10th places and had one person in the top 10 for the secondary health care issues exam.

Oklahoma HOSA was recognized for being the state with the highest combined volunteer hours for the HOSA service project, Be The Match. Oklahoma HOSA also won the Barbara James Service Award with 4,518.65 hours of community service.

CareerTech Champions

Julie Smiley Foster – FFA, HOSA and STEM

CareerTech instructor transitioned from blue coat to white coat.

THEN: The first female to become a national FFA officer. Julie Smiley Foster was a high school student in Mount Vernon, Washington, when she enrolled in agricultural education and joined her local FFA chapter. FFA is the CareerTech student organization aligned with agricultural education.

It was there she learned numerous life skills from her instructor and chapter adviser. That was back in the 1970s, but Smiley Foster still recalls how he coached her and helped her win the state’s public speaking contest.

“To be able to speak to people I know and don’t know, whether planned or unplanned, has been a gift,” she said.

It was a gift that kept giving after high school. A few weeks after graduation, Smiley Foster was elected FFA state president, the first female to serve in that capacity. It wasn’t her only first, however. She continued to shatter glass ceilings in college when she was elected Western Region vice president for the national organization – the first female to hold a national office.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism (with a double major in agriculture science and journalism) from Texas A&M University and a master’s in counseling from Midwestern State University.

In addition to helping run the family farm for more than two decades, Smiley Foster taught junior high and high school science. She said she uses many of the skills she gained from FFA both in and out of the classroom. In addition to public speaking, she learned

  • How to plan, organize and follow through to produce successful events.
  • The importance of saying thank you and the value of writing thank-you notes.
  • How to speak to adults in business and how to remember names.

NOW: A National Board Certified instructor at Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s Biosciences and Medicine Academy. She teaches biomedical innovation and honors anatomy and physiology. Smiley Foster is an adviser for HOSA Future Health Professions, the CareerTech student organization that aligns with health careers education.

“CareerTech education is hands-on, problem-solving, skills-based and how-to-get-a-job training,” she said. “My purpose is to prepare students for the marathon of acquiring a career as a health professional.”

She said the professionalism she learned in the ag classroom is also a big part of her biosciences classroom. Smiley Foster said she hopes she’s a bit like her FFA adviser, Mr. Howell, who required the best of his students.

Link to National FFA podcast celebrating Julie Smiley Foster as first national officer

CareerTech Champions

Julia Lewis – Indian Capital Technology Center

Tahlequah calls CareerTech student a hometown hero.

THEN: A high school junior, weighing her career options, Julia Lewis enrolled in the health careers certification program at Indian Capitol Technology Center in Tahlequah to learn about the various jobs in health care.

“I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.

The Tahlequah High School student said she knew she liked helping people, but she wasn’t sure which career path to take. At Indian Capital, she

  • Learned how to stay calm in intense situations. (See links to stories below)
  • Developed time management and organizational skills.
  • Learned how to work independently.
  • Received certifications in phlebotomy, nursing assistant, CPR, AED and first aid.

The 17-year-old’s career path was reaffirmed this spring when she was called upon to save a man’s life. Riding downtown with her friends, Lewis saw a group of people surrounding a man who was in distress.

“I didn’t think twice about getting out to help him,” Lewis said, adding that she got out of the car while it was still moving. The man wasn’t breathing, and Lewis immediately called 911 and then performed CPR until the paramedics arrived.

Lewis is being hailed as a hero and received an award from the Tahlequah Police Department. She also received the HOSA Hero Award during the group’s International Leadership Conference. HOSA is the CareerTech student organization for future health professionals.

NOW: The CareerTech program helped Lewis narrow her career plans within the health care field.  She is now a certified nursing assistant and phlebotomist., and plans to become a dentist or dental hygienist.

Her instructor, Andrea McElmurry, described Lewis as bold, brave, and mature beyond her years. She added that Lewis strives to do her best in every situation.

“She has a bright future ahead of her, and I know she will accomplish her goals,” McElmurry said.


Related content:

Lewis commended on Fox 23 News 

Facebook video of Police Chief Nate King honoring Lewis

Indian Capital Technology Center surg tech student Ciarra Towry awarded a national scholarship

Ciarra Towry, Indian Capital Technology Center surgical technology student

Ciarra Towry, Indian Capital Technology Center Surgical Technology student, was awarded a national student scholarship from the ARC/STSA (Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting) Scholarship Program. Only 10 students nationwide received the $500 scholarship.

ICTC Superintendent Tony Pivec said, “We want to congratulate Ciarra on this tremendous honor. The fact that only 10 students nationwide receive this scholarship says a lot about her qualifications for this award.” ICTC Board of Education Vice-President Tom Stiles said, “On behalf of the ICTC Board, I want to commend Ms. Towry for her academic excellence. This is a great achievement.”

The Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA) is committed to advancing surgical technology and surgical assisting education for individuals entering and working within the professions. The ARC/STSA Scholarship Program is designed to assist AST or ASA student members pursuing their education in CAAHEP-accredited surgical technology or surgical assisting programs.

CTSO officers attend CareerTech University

Oklahoma CareerTech student organization state officers recently attended CareerTech University at Camp Tulakogee in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Officers from all seven co-curricular CTSOs attended the conference, where they learned about goal-setting, time management, teamwork and presentation skills.

At CTU each year, officers participate in training sessions and group activities to help them lead their organizations. They also learn more about the Oklahoma CareerTech System during the event. CTU provides the student leaders an opportunity to come together and share ideas about how they can best represent the CareerTech System as a whole.

CareerTech Champions

ShiAnne Farris — Northwest Technology Center and HOSA

THEN: ShiAnne Farris didn’t choose between college and CareerTech — she chose both. And that was just the beginning. Farris was a junior at Alva High School when she took the first step toward her career goal of becoming a doctor, enrolling in Northwest Technology Center’s health careers program. At Northwest Tech, she

  • Learned baseline medical knowledge.
  • Served as a state officer in HOSA, the CareerTech student organization associated with health careers.
  • Networked with peers and gained valuable leadership skills
  • Received numerous certifications, including certified nurse aide, certified medication aide and massage therapy.

After high school, Farris went to Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree in 2013. But even that wasn’t her end goal. Far from it. A few years later, Farris returned to NWOSU to work on prerequisites for medical school. She was accepted to the Oklahoma State University School of Medicine in 2019 and expects to graduate in 2023. After that, Farris expects to have three or four years of hospital residency.

In addition to school, Farris has worked as a CNA, CMA, nurse and registration clerk at Share Medical Center and Alliance Health. She is on the rural medicine track and plans to return to Alva to practice medicine. With a stubbornness that became a fierce determination, according to her instructor at Northwest Tech, Farris has faced – and conquered – a series of tough challenges.

NOW: She drives three hours home to Alva on weekends to spend time with her 6-year-old daughter and 16-month-old son. As she works toward becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine specializing in either emergency or family medicine, Farris said she schedules every second of her day — her showers, study time and even the time she makes phone calls. Farris said she believes it is never too late to go after what you want.

“It’s okay to be stubborn. Never let anyone tell someone they can’t do something.”

ShiAnne Farris – medical student and mother

CareerTech Champions

Kaydee Clark – Tulsa Technology Center and HOSA

CareerTech in high school gave this student-turned-instructor a way to pay for college.

THEN: One of three latchkey siblings with a single mom who worked two jobs to pay the bills. While her mother struggled to take care of the family and put food on the table, Kaydee Clark said, she was fighting battles of her own. Plagued with multiple health issues, she was in and out of health care facilities throughout high school.

Even though Clark’s mother worked hard, she couldn’t come up with college money for Clark or her siblings. Her brother and sister joined the military, but Kaydee needed to find a career. One of her mother’s jobs was medical assisting, and Clark’s health care experiences had made her realize she, too, had a passion for helping others.

Like mother, like daughter — the high school senior enrolled in Tulsa Technology Center’s medical assisting program. She joined HOSA, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with health careers education. HOSA and Tulsa Tech helped Clark

  • Develop the ability to prioritize and become organized.
  • Pass the board exams for medical assisting and phlebotomy.
  • Learn leadership skills and the value of teamwork.
  • Improve her communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Develop a strong work ethic and resiliency.

Clark watched her mom work hard to get ahead, advancing to vice president of a popular health insurance organization. Clark had the same strong work ethic, and in 2004, she graduated from Tulsa Tech and began working as a medical assistant. She met her future husband at an urgent care center, where he was a patient.

After Clark became pregnant with their third child, she made a career change, accepting a grant-funded teaching job at her alma mater. After that job ended, she was offered a full-time teaching job with Tulsa Tech’s high school medical assisting program, the same program she sat in as a high school senior. It was that program that helped her get a job, and it was that job that gave her the resources to continue her education.

“I would not have been able to attend college later in life if I hadn’t learned a trade,” she said. “CareerTech equipped me with the ability to work and make money to support myself and my family.”

NOW: A member of the Oklahoma State University President’s Leadership Society, working toward a degree in psychology and school counseling and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Clark said she’s never leaving CareerTech.

“Even if I became a doctor,” she said, “my clinic would be staffed with Tulsa Tech students.”

“There is so much opportunity in CareerTech, and I am a product of it.”

Kaydee Clark, CareerTech instructor and OSU college student

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