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Kristen Rutherford

Kristen Rutherford
Kristen Rutherford, a graduate of Oklahoma City Community College, recently received the Outstanding Graduate Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council. Pictured are, from left, Lemuel Bardeguez, OCCC vice president for community and work development; Marcie Mack, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education executive director; Kermit McMurry, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education vice chancellor for student affairs; Rutherford; Lisa Brown, OCCC, Career Transitions program director; and Patrick Klein, Oklahoma Department of Human Services chief officer and division director of adult and family services.
Kristen Rutherford, a graduate of Oklahoma City Community College, recently received the Outstanding Graduate Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council.

Rutherford was one of 15 Oklahomans and eight Oklahoma businesses and nonprofit organizations honored at the 24th annual Making It Work Day at the Capitol on March 29. 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.

Nine students were recognized from the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and award presentations to individuals, businesses and organizations were made at a luncheon at the Oklahoma History Center.

When Rutherford arrived at OCCC, she and her children had left a domestic violence situation in another state, said Lisa Brown, director of the OCCC Career Transitions program, who nominated her for the award. At the college, she discovered skills and talents and a hunger for higher education, Brown said.

Rutherford graduated in May 2017 with an associate degree in diversified studies and a certificate of completion in general office. She maintained full-time status for two semesters while working as an intern in the OCCC Communication Lab, Brown said. She was named Outstanding Professional for her work as a tutor and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

After graduation, Rutherford enrolled for the fall semester at the University of Central Oklahoma. She continued to work as a writing tutor at Oklahoma State University - Oklahoma City, at the OCCC Communication Lab and in Oklahoma City high schools through the UCO Gear Up program, Brown said.

“Ms. Rutherford continues to return to OCCC and speak with other CT students to encourage, share her story and let them know where she is today,” Brown said. “She always emphasizes that education is important and that her own efforts determined where she succeeded or failed.”

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.

“OkCTEEC believes in the phrase, “It takes a village,” and wants to recognize all those who have helped nontraditional students find success. OkCTEEC serves as a unifying council for all personnel serving displaced homemakers, single parents and pregnant women, nontraditional students, at-risk students, teen parents and pregnant teens. The Making It Work Day award ceremony is an event that recognizes and honors all the dedicated and hardworking students, programs and community or business partners that have worked so hard throughout the year to see students’ dreams come to fruition,” said KayTee Niquette, 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 Lisa French of the Department of Human Services and Gina McPherson of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

“Making It Work Day at the Capitol is an opportunity to recognize the success of outstanding students from colleges and career technology centers who contribute to making it work in Oklahoma, as well as those administrators, instructors and community partners who have worked to expand opportunities and improve outcomes through their dedicated and invaluable services,” said Angela Barnes, OkCTEEC president and coordinator of the REACH and REACH4Work program at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City. “It is a great day to let our state leaders, legislators and Oklahomans see the faces of those who go over and beyond at making a difference in our state.

“Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council is an organization devoted to equity in education and employment for disadvantaged groups. It is about providing real-life experiences for our students, developing leaders and maintaining relationships within communities.”

OkCTEEC’s purposes include promoting and supporting career and technology education, increasing its effectiveness, promoting research in the field and in educational equity, developing leadership and advocating for equity and diversity.

For more information about OkCTEEC, visit For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, visit

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