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Melissa Leon Guerrero

Oklahoma City Community College professor of business

Melissa Leon Guerrero, a professor of business at Oklahoma City Community College, recently received the Outstanding Instructor of Non-Traditional Students 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.

Leon Guerrero has been a professor at OCCC for 10 years. She is the lead business communication instructor and teaches other business courses as well. When she began teaching the Employment Transitions course, she updated the curriculum to better help the students in the Career Transitions Program, said Julie Johnson, Career Transitions employment coach, who nominated Leon Guerrero for the award.

All Career Transitions students are required to take the course, which is also open to other OCCC students. When Leon Guerrero began teaching the course, she took time to learn about the program and the students, Johnson said.

“This, and her many years of higher education and teaching experience, helped her understand exactly what would best help our diverse population of single parent students who are living on a shoestring and working hard to gain education and training that will improve their lives and the lives of future generations,” Johnson said.

She added that Leon Guerrero’s class includes up-to-date information about job searching, networking, writing effective resumes and cover letters and interviewing. She gives the students practice in interviewing and talks to them about negotiating salary and benefits when they receive job offers.

“Because she poured a considerable amount of herself, her time, her energy and her expertise into what she did with the class, Professor Leon Guerrero ensured that each and every student knew that she cared about them as individuals and that their success -- in college and in the world of work -- mattered to her,” Johnson 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 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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