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Michael Figgins

Michael Figgins
Michael Figgins, director of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, recently received the Outstanding Community Partner/Agency Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council. Pictured are, from left, Bryce Fair, OSRHE associate vice chancellor for scholarships and grants; Patrick Klein, Oklahoma DHS chief officer and division director of adult and family services; Figgins; and Becki Foster, Oklahoma CareerTech chief of staff.
Michael Figgins, director of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, recently received the Outstanding Community Partner/Agency Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council.

He was one of 14 Oklahomans honored, along with four businesses and organizations, at the 26th annual Making It Work Day at the Capitol on Feb. 13. 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 presentations were made at a ceremony at the Oklahoma History Center. The ceremony also recognized

Figgins and LASO have helped Oklahoma City Community College students avoid foreclosure and eviction and navigate other legal issues so they can continue their education, earn degrees and enter careers that will help them provide for themselves and their children, said Julie Johnson, OCCC Career Transitions employment coach, who nominated him for the award.

LASO has offered internship opportunities and presentations to students as well, Johnson said. In addition, LASO made it possible for OCCC to host a special district judge to give students insights into what a first-generation college student from an impoverished background can achieve.

“Today, LASO is a caring, tech-savvy, proactive organization that we and our students can count on,” Johnson said. “Many of our students struggle every day to claw their way out of poverty with the added burden of civil legal issues on their backs and sole responsibility for their children always in the forefront of their minds. Our students need quick responses, honesty and solid information. LASO gives them this and much more.”

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 increase the awareness of collegiate and technical education by focusing on high expectations and full participation for all students and employees in career and education in Oklahoma. The Making It Work Day Ceremony is held to recognize those individuals, programs and business partners that have worked so hard throughout the year as well as bring a direct awareness to state senators and legislators,” 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 is our annual opportunity to spotlight the investment and hard work that is being done to empower our students who are single parents and most often first generation students who dream and want to pursue higher education,” said Lisa D. Brown, OkCTEEC president and director for career transitions at Oklahoma City Community College. “We encourage them to aspire to set goals as never before, take the steps to achieve those goals and then gain the confidence and success of completing those goals.

“Making it Work Day is their red carpet moment to celebrate these successes and to show and not just tell Oklahoma that this program and its funding is well spent and valuable to the lives of these individuals, not for that moment but for a lifetime. I often relate what we do to the story of the butterfly that finally leaves the cocoon being transformed as confident, beautiful, strong and free to soar.”

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 okcteec.org. For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, visit www.okcareertech.org.

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