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OSU-OKC employee honored at Making It Work Day

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 6, 2022) -- Ariel Moore, an OSU-OKC employee, recently received the Making It Work Day Spotlight Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council.

Moore was one of 17 Oklahomans honored, along with three businesses and organizations, at the 28th annual Making It Work Day at the Capitol in a virtual ceremony May 6. 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.

Moore has been with Oklahoma State University-OKC’s Center for Social Innovation since it launched in August 2020, said Angela Barnes, REACH coordinator at OSU-OKC, who nominated Moore for the award.

Students are referred to CFSI after completing addiction recovery programs or jail diversion programs, and many have experienced homelessness, trauma, abuse, addiction and other challenges, Barnes said. Moore’s own story helps her relate to the students she is helping, Barnes said.

She helps them with goal-setting, tutoring and job placement and tries to provide “an environment conducive to physical and emotional sobriety,” Barnes said.

“Ariel knows all about what addiction, incarceration and homelessness can do to someone and their family,” she said. “Her own success has made her believe that anything is possible for anyone -- especially people who have been given a second chance at life and are trying their hardest to become the best version of themselves.”

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 is always privileged to honor those who have chosen a career path that is nontraditional and those individuals or partners who have assisted them in their quest,” said KayTee Niquette, Work Prep and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. “This year is a transitional year that everyone seems to be working through, so students and others have been doing an exceptional job meeting in person and through a hybrid model.”

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.

“All of us continue to navigate through the continuing pandemic, facing new challenges each and every day,” said Kelly Vinson, OkCTEEC president and director of Project Achieve at Northern Oklahoma College. “Our students have shown tremendous strength and determination navigating through the many challenges they face along the way. It is a great honor to recognize these students, who have excelled and are continuing to reach their goals.”

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.


 

Graduation ceremony for Center for Social Innovation at OSU-OKC celebrates second chances

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 17, 2021) – After being expelled from school in the third grade, Michelle Tubby received almost no formal education. Yet 20 years later she will graduate from an Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City program that gives people a second chance to get on a path to success.

Tubby, 29, whose involvement with drugs landed her in juvenile and adult detention, is one of the first 10 people to complete the intensive Center for Social Innovation program that uses a hope-based curriculum to help participants identify life goals, career pathways and support systems.

CFSI was launched in September thanks to a $1 million, three-year commitment from the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation. The program has also received funding and support from the Inasmuch Foundation and Simmons Bank.

Participants are given new laptops that are theirs to keep, school supplies and lunch in the cafeteria each day that they are on campus. CFSI pays them a stipend for their time spent in program and connects them with an internship to gain workplace experience and credibility for their path forward.

“I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and skills. The program teaches me so many things that I never thought I’d know,” Tubby said. “I get so overjoyed by it.”

A graduation ceremony for all the participants will be held at 10 a.m. May 21 on the OSU-OKC campus in Oklahoma City.

“It’s a celebration of reclaiming and relaunching lives,” said Dar Yasseri, vice president of student experience at OSU-OKC and a founder of CFSI. “This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a personal journey that is sustainable for the individual, with support and education. Developing relationships and building partnerships with our community and local industry provides opportunities for our students, and adds further employment opportunities post-graduation.”

For Tubby that journey will continue with classes at OSU-OKC where she plans to earn an associate degree in American Sign Language. She wants to work for a nonprofit and help children and people with disabilities.

“I want to give back and help the next person get to where I am,” Tubby said.

One of the people who has helped Tubby is Shellie Greiner, a community volunteer who heard about CFSI and knew that among the many challenges the participants faced, transportation would be a big one.

Greiner is working to find cars for CFSI students, either donated vehicles or those with low monthly payments. The first car Greiner acquired was donated by a friend. It was given to Tubby, who finally got her driver’s license while in the program for the first time in her life and now can get to campus and work on her own.

Program participants are referred to CFSI after completing addiction recovery programs or jail diversion programs. Many have experienced homelessness, trauma, abuse, addiction, and many other challenges. Some have aged out of the foster care system and others are escaping abusive relationships. The program is designed to give hope to individuals overcoming a wide array of barriers such as these.

“At CFSI, we want to give people with challenged backgrounds the purpose, hope, and support needed for them to find long-term success and happiness,” said Ariel Moore, senior director. “We want to walk people through building their confidence back up and helping them find their identity, as well as create a community they can always turn to.”

A big part of that community are the friends, leaders, and businesses who partner with OSU-OKC and are equally committed to the students’ futures, Moore said.

Greg Dewey, vice president of administration at Mach Resources, is one of the CFSI internship partners.

“We want to be able to offer opportunities here to people who might not otherwise receive an opportunity in a professional setting,” Dewey said.

The part-time interns rotate through four departments at Mach to gain knowledge about jobs they might want to pursue and to develop a network of mentors, he said.

“All of our lives improve when we have positive relationships,” Dewey said.

Michael Norris, 37, is also graduating from CFSI and plans to earn his associate degree in addiction counseling. He is gaining work experience as an intern at the Diversion Hub, which is boosting his confidence.

“I’ve never experienced so many people rooting for me,” said Norris, who abused alcohol and drugs for more than 20 years. OSU-OKC even took care of unpaid fees he owed from a failed college attempt in 2009 so he could reenroll.

“This is too good to be true. I was overwhelmed with hope,” he said. “I have a chance here.”

The Center for Social Innovation is accepting applications for the upcoming August 2021 cohort at https://osuokc.edu/cfsi/apply. Applications are due by June 30, 2021.


OSU-OKC launches new center with $1 million gift

OSU-OKC uses $1 million gift to launch Center for Social Innovation. Center will present career pathways, education, and job skills to Oklahomans transitioning from addiction recovery, homelessness and jail diversion programs

OSU-OKC launches new center
OKLAHOMA CITY (Sept. 16, 2020) – Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City has formed a new center to help Oklahomans redefine their future.

The Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) Center for Social Innovation was launched late last month thanks to a $1 million, three-year commitment from the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation. The Center’s launch is realized following more than two years of partnership and program development between OSU-OKC and several metro-area nonprofit agencies, including The Curbside Chronicle, ReMerge, Pivot and Oklahoma County DUI/Drug Court.

The Center’s signature program, Growing Hope, guides participants through an intensive, 16-week schedule utilizing a hope-based curriculum that helps identify life goals, career pathways, and support systems. Participants advance through college courses toward a certificate or degree while gaining life-skills and resume-building work experience made possible by a growing number of community partners.

“OSU-OKC is committed to helping each member of our community reach their potential. For some, it’s a second chance,” school President Brad Williams said. “In this first semester, we have a group of 17 deserving human beings who are helping us perfect this model, with 53 additional students served by the Center’s programs. This is positioning the Center to serve several hundred people over the next three years.”

Many of the program participants have completed addiction recovery programs, jail diversion programs, or experienced homelessness – most have experienced some combination of these struggles. Each was referred into the Center for Social Innovation through a metro-area partner agency. 

Mentoring the students and leading the program is Ariel Beasley, the senior director for the Center for Social Innovation.

Beasley said she can relate to the students because she shares a similar story of addiction, incarceration and homelessness. When she was 25, she was addicted to drugs and living in an abandoned house with no electricity or running water.

That’s when she lost custody of her 6-month-old son and went to jail.

“When I lost my son, I finally woke up and started fighting for my life,” Beasley said. “I was not interested in getting sober for myself, but I was desperate to do whatever it took to get him back.”

Beasley entered the ReMerge program in May of 2016, and by November of that year she was able to regain custody of her son. They lived together in an apartment at HopeHouse OKC and Beasley found an internship that turned into a full-time position at a local oil and gas company.

“I would never have believed I would be where I’m at today if someone would have told me five years ago,” Beasley said. “My own success has made me believe that anything is possible for anyone – especially people who have been given a second chance at life and are trying their hardest to become the best version of themselves.”

Now Beasley is assisting Center for Social Innovation participants with things like goal-setting, tutoring and job placements, as well as trying to provide an environment conducive to physical and emotional sobriety.

She said the center has the potential to be a life-changing experience for participants.

“This program answers the ‘what now?’ question that people have after they turn their lives around,” Beasley said. “This is the next step after sobriety and it is going to be the vehicle that takes an average recovery to an extraordinary transformation story.”

Williams said that empathy, compassion, accountability, and support are characteristics that make this type of program possible.

“We help others because others helped us,” he said.

Tricia L. Everest, a member of the Board of Trustees for the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, said she looks forward to hearing success stories from Center for Social Innovation students.

“They may not know it now, but the success these students achieve will create a ripple effect that will spread across not only their own lives, but our entire community,” Everest said.

For more information about the OSU-OKC Center for Social Innovation, contact:

Ariel Moore
Senior Director
Center for Social Innovation
C: 405-551-1457
O: 405-945-6775
ariel.beasley@okstate.edu