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New opportunities for some Creek County workers

Updated:
New opportunities for some of the hundreds of Creek County residents who lost their jobs when that area's biggest employer shut down. The Kwikset factory closed it's doors last year, laying off 1,200 workers.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin explains how some of those folks are finally getting back on their feet, with a little community support and a lot of hitting the books.

"I cried when they said they were closing the plant, it was really heartwrenching." Kairie Swift is just one of hundreds of Bristow residents devastated after the town's biggest employer disappeared.

When Kwikset left, so did the mother of five's sole income. "I went from, I was a process facilitator, I made really good money, lots of overtime to unemployment." She wasn't alone.

After 18 years at Kwikset, Lynn Ashley was suddenly left with a family to support, a son on the way to college and no paycheck. “I really didn't know what I was gonna do."

Both learned about a new program at Central Technology Center designed just for them. Organizers saw a future in health care and decided to re-train local factory workers as nurses. Campus director David Main: "Of course we wanted to get them in classes and special training that would pay them as well as they were making at Kwikset and jobs would be available."

23 graduates are now ready to fill them. The students say it's scary and exciting at the same time to start over. Both are grateful for a program that helps them find jobs in Oklahoma.

It's a tradition for nursing students to light a candle when they take their oath and graduate and for this class it will mean something even more, a light that will lead them to a new future.

Kairie Swift: "I don't know how many patients have told me already I'm gonna be a good nurse, they really like the attentiveness I give em, it just makes me feel really good."

Lynn Ashley: “My biggest enjoyment is seeing that I can make a difference. When I'm working with a patient I can actually see I'm helping them or I'm teaching them something they can help themselves. It really makes me feel good inside."

Next stop for the new nurses will be sitting for boards, then getting a license.
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