April 25, 2014
Southwest Technology center graduate Chris Alvear recently received the Outstanding Non-Traditional Student Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Educators Equity Council.
Alvear was one of 25 people honored at the 20th annual Making It Work Day April 24 at the state Capitol. Making It Work Day recognizes individuals who are committed to removing barriers to success for single-parent families by providing educational experiences for students beyond the classroom. The ceremony also recognized nontraditional students and members who received national honors for their efforts.
At 19, Alvear, an unemployed, homeless high school dropout, entered the Workforce Investment Act Youth Program, said Doug Johnston, Southwest Technology Center LPN director, who nominated him for the award. He had applied for fast food jobs, but never received callbacks, but then entered the youth program.
He considered enlisting in the Army, but a career cluster survey indicated his passion was to become a doctor, Johnston said. Within three months, Johnston said, Alvear earned a GED diploma and certifications in CPR and medical terminology and received a certified nursing assistant license. He completed 520 hours of work study at SWTC and graduated from the practical nursing program in 2013.
Alvear worked at a long-term care facility as a licensed practical nurse before enlisting in the Army National Guard, Johnston said.
“Chris is a shining star and a great example of what America was founded on – grit and determination,” he said.
OkCTEEC is affiliated with the administrative division of the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education. The council advocates for students pursuing nontraditional careers and for resources for educating single parents.
“The mission of OkCTEEC is to serve as a unifying council for all personnel serving displaced homemakers, single parents, teen parents, single pregnant teens and women, nontraditional students and at-risk females,” said Lou Ann Hargrave, Work Prep and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. She serves as an adviser for OkCTEEC, along with Sandy Elledge of the Department of Human Services and Kathy Quinn-Teague of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
“State and federal programs often cannot remove all the obstacles facing those living in poverty,” said Janie Clay, OkCTEEC president and coordinator of the Allied Jobs Program at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. “Therefore, a strong community partnership is imperative among agencies, businesses and industries as the participants transition from education and training to employment and self-sufficiency. We rely heavily on our partners to provide learning opportunities outside the classroom.”
Laura Wilson, Writer/Editor