Category Archives: Technology Centers

CareerTech Champions

Abigail Shannon – Meridian Technology Center and FFA

As soon as Abigail Shannon was old enough to join a CareerTech program, she followed in the footsteps of her brother and two of her sisters. They all took advantage of vocational training programs in their local technology centers. Not to be outdone by her siblings, Shannon got involved with CareerTech at Perkins-Tryon schools when she was just an eighth grader.

That’s when she joined the school’s FFA chapter, showing pigs, studying horticulture and even competing at state FFA contests. FFA is an Oklahoma CareerTech student organization aligned with agricultural education. By the time Shannon was in high school, however, she realized agriculture was not her passion.

In her junior year, she enrolled in Meridian Technology Center’s two-year health careers program. That year, she also joined a second CareerTech student organization, HOSA, the group aligned with health occupations education. She garnered several certifications, including certified phlebotomy technician, certified clinical medical assistant and medication administration technician.

In addition to introducing her to a wide variety of career options, Shannon said, her CareerTech instructors and advisers taught her leadership skills, how to express empathy and the value of teamwork.

Those skills no doubt helped her draw the attention of Langston University administrators, who invited her to study in the university’s Edwin P. McCabe Honors Program. The invitation came with a $100,000 scholarship to cover tuition, fees, room and board and a textbook stipend. Shannon’s mother received the same prestigious scholarship when she was in school to become a physical therapist.

The honors program challenges and prepares students for future success through community service and leadership opportunities, according to information from the university. Scholars are expected to complete a minimum of 60 hours of community service each year.

Shannon’s career plans were undecided when she enrolled at Langston, but she recently decided to major in elementary education. The skills she learned at Meridian Tech will definitely come in handy when she is working with both students and parents in the future, she said.

“CareerTech is an incredible experience,” Shannon said. “It will benefit you in more ways than you realize!”

Shannon’s father works at the CareerTech state office in Stillwater.

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. 

Oklahoma CareerTech Enrollment Increases

Oklahoma CareerTech’s enrollment in fiscal year 2022 rose to 446,940 students — from 426,125 in FY 2021 — and was up in each of the state agency’s delivery arms.

Positive placement in FY 2022 was 91%, which means that almost all CareerTech graduates found employment, entered the military or continued their education.

“In addition to enrollment increases across the board, membership in CareerTech student organizations rose significantly in fiscal 2022,” said CareerTech Interim State Director Lee Denney. “The uptick in enrollment reflects a growing realization of the value of a CareerTech education and the need for curriculums that emphasize career readiness.”

CareerTech serves the nearly half a million students through a network of 391 school districts, 29 technology centers, 15 skills centers and 32 adult education and family literacy providers. CareerTech also serves Oklahomans through its business and industry programs.

Enrollment in the 29 technology center districts was 298,675 in FY 2022, up from 295,193 in FY 2021.

Enrollment in CareerTech courses in PK-12 schools totaled 127,875 in FY 2022, up from 121,735 in FY 2021. That number equals 31% of students in fifth through 12th grades. In ninth through 12th grades, 42% of students — 83,580 — were enrolled in CareerTech classes in FY 2022.

Participation in CareerTech student organizations rose 20% during FY 2022, to 95,390 from 79,356 in FY 2021. CareerTech has seven co-curricular CTSOs: Business Professionals of America, 5,686 members in FY 2022; DECA, 1,520; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, 14,752; FFA, 27,892; HOSA, 6,434; SkillsUSA, 14,214; and Technology Student Association, 24,892.

Enrollment in adult education and family literacy grew from 8,304 in FY 2021 to 8,925 in FY 2022. Oklahoma CareerTech assumed responsibility for adult education and family literacy in 2014. The 32 providers around Oklahoma help adults become literate, earn their high school equivalencies and obtain the skills necessary for employment.

Enrollment in the Skills Centers School System grew from 893 in FY 2021 to 1,045 in FY 2022, and more than 95% of those who completed training found jobs with an average hourly wage of $14.64.

CareerTech’s skills centers specialize in the delivery of career and technology education to inmates under the supervision of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and to juveniles under the supervision of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs.

“Offenders who find employment are less likely to return to crime,” Denney said.

In addition to teaching individuals through technology centers, skills centers, PK-12 schools and adult education and family literacy programs, Oklahoma CareerTech also provides customized training and other services to companies in the state to help them increase profitability.

In FY 2022, CareerTech served 6,671 companies through entrepreneurial development, firefighter training, customized industry, safety training, adult and career development, training for industry and the Oklahoma Procurement Technical Assistance Center. The TIP program helped companies locate in Oklahoma and provided training for 2,941 new jobs, and OkPTAC helped state companies secure 1,775 federal, state, local and tribal government contracts valued at $392,442,455.

American Airlines Needs You in Oklahoma

Here in Oklahoma, the aerospace industry is one of the largest and fastest growing. When you look in the sky, you will likely see an airplane carrying hundreds of people. Some of those planes may belong to American Airlines. You could one day work on those American Airlines planes right here in Oklahoma!

For more than 100 years, Oklahoma CareerTech has been connecting students and businesses with training opportunities that help Oklahomans find rewarding careers and support Oklahoma industries. Our goal is to develop a world-class workforce for Oklahoma employers and prepare Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education and in life.

Oklahoma Celebrates Careers in Energy Week

Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week is October 17-21

The third annual Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week is scheduled for Oct. 17-21. Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium is celebrating the week by promoting the benefits of pursuing careers in the industry. Energy is the highest-paying industry in the state, with an average salary of more than $109,000 annually and employing more than 84,000 Oklahomans in 2021. Oklahoma ranks fourth in the U.S. for wind energy employment, third for installed wind power capacity, sixth for solar potential and third in natural gas production and is home to the world’s largest oil storage facility.

closing the talent gap in oklahomas energy industry

“Oklahoma’s all-of-the-above energy strategy makes us a national leader in oil, natural gas and wind production, which leads to a wide range of career opportunities for Oklahomans who are preparing to enter the job market,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “During Careers in Energy Week, we celebrate those who work behind the scenes in Oklahoma’s energy industry and recognize all they do to keep our lights on, our homes comfortable, our cars running and our economy growing.”

OEWC first united in 2019 to help address upcoming nationwide shortages predicted for the energy industry by 2025.

“There are so many opportunities to work and serve our state through different energy services including utilities, renewable energy, oil and gas and more. We want to always be able to introduce our students to these opportunities in our community, and this collaboration is a great way to spur these conversations,” said Lee Denney, interim state director of Oklahoma CareerTech. “The partnership between the energy industry and CareerTech helps us provide meaningful and tailored energy education programs to more Oklahomans, increasing their chances of securing a rewarding career and improving their earning potential.”

In addition to industry leaders, the consortium includes leaders from Oklahoma CareerTech, K-12 education, higher education and government and is focused on creating a pipeline of talented, diverse individuals to meet future needs within the state’s energy sector.

Getting young Oklahomans excited about careers in energy is a top priority of the consortium, as developing future engineers, technicians, chemists, construction managers and many other important positions are key to sustaining the industry’s momentum.

“In Oklahoma, the energy industry plays a critical role in everyday life, and we want all Oklahomans, particularly young people, to understand the incredible career opportunities in the industry,” said Sean Trauschke, chairman, president and CEO of OGE Energy Corp. “The partnership between the industry, educators and government is vital to inspiring our future workforce to power the state through a wide variety of energy-related occupations.”

“The energy industry is always evolving, and there’s a continual need for innovative skill sets, which is what makes our partnership with the state so important,” said PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Leigh Anne Strahler. “We rely on highly skilled workers to serve our customers and power a brighter future for all Oklahomans. From lineworkers, power plant operators and electricians to engineers, accountants and analysts – there’s a place for everyone in the energy industry.”

The OEWC cites the impending workforce shortage as a major driver for its formation. STEM curriculum plays a pivotal role in energy occupations, and many schools are implementing more programs as a pipeline for similar jobs. STEM education opens doors to many different industries and provides tools and skills for future generations to apply to occupations like energy.

“At the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, we strive to connect industry and education across the state to secure and embrace the skill needs of our future workforce,” said Don Morris, executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development. “Fostering these collaborations across industries provides more opportunities for meaningful occupations for more Oklahomans. This also helps Oklahoma retain talent and passion to drive success today and tomorrow in the energy sector.”

For more information about careers in energy and the Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium, visit

About Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium

Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium is a partnership among Oklahoma energy companies and organizations with a mission to raise awareness about the energy industry and career pathways available to Oklahoma students. The consortium represents energy industry, education, government and community leaders united to build a talent pipeline for Oklahoma’s energy sector. The full list of consortium members can be viewed at

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. 

Legislature Approves $11.2 Million to Expand CareerTech Programs

The Oklahoma Legislature recently appropriated $11.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to establish and expand vital Oklahoma CareerTech workforce development programs.

The Legislature appropriated $5 million to CareerTech to create a program to train broadband infrastructure installation workers. The program will help create a workforce to expand broadband connectivity in underserved areas.

“There is a need for broadband installation in Oklahoma,” said Lee Denney, Oklahoma CareerTech interim director. “Creating this program shows CareerTech’s ability to be agile with industry as needs arise. We work with industry to create the workforce to fill Oklahoma’s needs.”

About 15 technology centers have expressed interest in becoming broadband training sites, she said. The ARPA money will be used for equipment to train students to lay fiber underground, to hang it on poles and to build towers for the last mile connections.

Oklahoma CareerTech will train workers in installation, maintenance and customer service, Denney said.

CareerTech also received $6.2 million to expand its truck driver training program. Oklahoma CareerTech already offers truck driver training through Central Technology Center and other tech centers that have partnered with Central Tech. The $6.2 million will be used to create regional programs that will supplement the statewide program, Denney said.

“We’ve been asked to expand because the statewide program has a six-month waiting list,” she explained.

The regional programs — at Kiamichi, Northeast, Tulsa and Caddo Kiowa tech centers — will allow students to stay closer to home when they undergo training.

The money will be used to build classrooms, expand driving ranges and buy trucks and simulators, Denney said.

Denney said the need is great for both broadband expansion and truck drivers in Oklahoma.

“These funds will allow Oklahoma CareerTech to continue to help Oklahomans learn the skills they need while also continuing to contribute to the state’s economic development,” she said.

The bill has been sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt for his signature.

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