Tulsa's EduCareer Program Graduates First Class

Sunday, December 12th 2010, 7:50 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A program that helps low-income families advance in education and economic standing is celebrating a milestone.

Nine woman are among the first participants of a work-study program to graduate Sunday.

"No matter how hard things are, you can pull through if you believe that you can," said EduCareers graduate Shakaye Releford.

They are part of EduCareers, which is a program for the parents of kids in the EduCare program through Tulsa Children's Project.

"If we do more to support the parent, the whole family of those children, the effects of that good programming like Head Start and EduCare will last longer and these children will succeed," said Dr. Jennifer Hays-Grudo PhD, OU-Tulsa Professor of Internal Medicine.

After passing classes this fall, they are all certified nursing assistants now.

"I knew that I would have a secure future. The medical business is always in demand for hiring people, so that's why I chose it," Releford said.

Participants in the program must have a high school diploma or GED; they must pass a Workforce Tulsa screening exam and have an interest and aptitude for a career in nursing.

"I've always loved nursing, it's something that I've always wanted to do and it's a good opportunity for me and my family," said EdCareers graduate Lupe Anaya.

Lupe Anaya wants to set a strong example for her three children.

"A feeling I can't explain. It's something that I'm doing for my future and their future, so it makes me feel real good that I know that I'm doing something to help them out," Anaya said.

Shakaye Releford is a mother of four. "I wanted to quit so many times, but I knew that if I did, I would go nowhere," she said.

She started classes when her youngest was only two weeks old.

"Just because you have kids, doesn't mean you can't do it because we all did it with, I think, we all have three or four," Releford said.

The George Kaiser Family Foundation pays for the parent's tuition, books, transportation and child care services, so the parents can focus on a better future.

One graduate has already landed a job at a local hospital as a nursing assistant. The other women plan to move to the next level and become Licensed Practical Nurses and eventually Registered Nurses.

Program directors will soon begin recruiting for spring classes.