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Deborah Mullinax

OSU-OKC REACH program graduate

Deborah Mullinax, a graduate of the REACH program at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, recently received the Outstanding Student/Graduate Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council.

She was one of 12 Oklahomans honored, along with four businesses and organizations, at the 27th annual Making It Work Day at the Capitol in a virtual ceremony April 30. 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.

After some difficult situations, Mullinax, a single mother of two, “made the move to better herself and her family’s future,” said Lydia Hickerson, OSU-OKC career development specialist, who nominated her for the award.

Mullinax began training in medical billing and coding with REACH in May 2017 and completed the normally 12-month program in five months, Hickerson said. She earned a National Career Readiness Certificate, along with certificates in proficiency for administration, business writing, data entry, health insurance, Microsoft and customer service.

In September 2017, Mullinax was placed in an internship with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. After completing the REACH program, she began working at Red Rock Distribution, where she has been for the past three years, Hickerson said.

“REACH is very proud of Deborah and all that she has accomplished,” Hickerson said. “We believe that she should be recognized for her persistence and dedication to becoming self-sufficient and providing for her family.”

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 Making It Work Day ceremony is such an important part of OkCTEEC as it publicly acknowledges those students, programs and business partners that have done an outstanding job meeting their career goals,” said KayTee Niquette, Work Prep and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. “The event this year is even more important, as we have persevered through a pandemic and still have individuals who have excelled.”

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.

The COVID-19 pandemic created challenges, said Lisa D. Brown, OkCTEEC president and director for career transitions at Oklahoma City Community College, but students, faculty, staff and community partners met the challenges head-on, redesigning traditional methods of assistance and education.

“These students have persevered through the many changes in their pursuit of their goals and even some events in their own families,” she said. “In addition to their academic success, they have strengthened even more skills in communication, collaboration, adaptation and endurance that will be of great benefit as valuable life skills they will never forget they developed or discovered they had.”

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

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