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Breaking Traditions Award 2007

Congratulations to Missouri's state and regional Breaking Traditions award winners!


State Secondary Male Award

Jesse Briscoe
Jesse Briscoe
Moberly Area Technical Center
Nominated by Angela Benoit

Jesse Briscoe notes that, "Each and every student has their own interests, and I have a high interest in using numbers. From my understanding, Accounting is considered nontraditional for male students, but that had no affect on why I chose to take these classes. In today's society, it is becoming more and more common to see males and females in careers that are nontraditional for their gender. To me, a career is a career. There are no rules that permit people to work in careers based on their gender. Only the media has made it seem that way, but in reality, any career is open to any person, male or female. Remember it is your life; spend it how you want to spend it."

Jesse's nominator and business instructor, Angela Benoit, says, "Jesse has elevated the overall standards of performance of the business program here at Moberly Area Technical Center. He is a highly driven and motivated young man who works tirelessly in achieving his goals. He has been an active member of FBLA for four years and is currently serving as treasurer."

Jesse's career plans include studying Actuarial Science, a field that prepares students to use calculations based on probability, statistics, finance and economics. He says that looking back, he realizes how much taking a nontraditional program can affect the decisions you make for your future.


State Secondary Female Award

Sara Van Jura
Sara Van Jura
Welding Technology
Moberly Area Technical Center
Nominated by Steve Kistler

Sara Van Jura says, "I was a student bent on a major in journalism and a history buff with no apparent compulsion to perform labor of any sort. Consequently, my motives for enrolling in welding remain a mystery to me, but I can't imagine what my life would amount to if I hadn't taken that chance."

Sara's nominator and welding instructor, Steve Kistler, notes that, "Sara's enthusiasm and interest in welding quickly propelled her to the top of the class. She evolved into a program leader and is now sought after by many of her peers for technical welding assistance. Her interpersonal skills are some of her most admirable qualities. Because of these traits, she has been called upon to talk with prospective students about the Welding Technology program."

Sara's advice to students considering nontraditional programs is this: "Approach each opposition, each discouragement, as though it were the single most useful and enjoyable experience you have ever encountered. Enthusiasm can level any mountain."

Of her future career plans, Sara says, "I will attend college and begin to explore the plethora of options available in the welding field. Welding has impacted my life in ways that I never would have speculated. It has helped mold me from a lackluster writer into a driven, tenacious worker with a story to tell. Whether I merge writing and welding and become a technical journalist, or couple my facility in chemistry with my welding know-how and pursue a career in metallurgy, I will continue to have the character traits and knowledge that welding has instilled in me. No matter my future's outcome, I will always be proud, proud of my skills, proud of who I am, and undeniably, proud to be a welder."


State Postsecondary Male Award

Lawrence Davis
Lawrence Davis
Radiologic Technology
Rolla Technical Center
Nominated by Maggie Ogden

Lawrence Davis was working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Although he loved what he was doing, he didn't know if some of the physical demands would allow him to continue in this career until retirement. After some searching, he chose the radiology program because it was challenging, it allowed him to help people, there were great opportunities for job placement, and most of all, because it was still in the medical field. Lawrence says, "I didn't consider this a nontraditional career choice, I considered it a smart career choice."

Although Lawrence says it took him a while to get used to being back in the school setting again, his previous knowledge and experience in the medical field and in life in general allowed him to help the younger, less experienced students in his class.

Lawrence's advice for students considering nontraditional programs is, "Follow your heart. If it's a program you feel strongly about, and believe you would be successful at, then go for it!"

Lawrence's instructor and nominator, Maggie Ogden, says, "Larry has a 4.0 GPA and a 100% in his clinical work. Respect, understanding, empathy, humor, patience, courtesy, and honesty are only a few of the interpersonal skills that Larry uses daily when he comes in contact with classmates, instructors, and future co-workers & employers."

Lawrence's future career plans are to acquire a full-time position with a hospital or facility that is willing to work with him to further advance his career. He would like to go into computed tomography (CT) and eventually into magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET).


State Postsecondary Female Award

Carrie Statler
Carrie Statler
Law Enforcement
Mineral Area College
Nominated by Rich Flotron

Carrie Statler wants to become a law enforcement officer for two reasons: First is to keep drugs away from kids and to put the dealers who would sell drugs to kids in jail where they belong. The second reason she chose this career is to be able to give back to her community and her country, and to show her sons that no matter what you choose to do in this life, that you should listen to your calling and follow your heart.

Carrie says, "I entered the Law Enforcement Academy knowing that it was not going to be easy. The academy has made me physically stronger, mentally focused, and has challenged me to become a better person."

Carrie's instructor and nominator, Rich Flotron, says, "Carrie goes above and beyond what is asked of our recruits by always displaying a positive attitude and performing superior academic achievement. Carrie is always eager to help other recruits and was instrumental in setting up a fundraising effort for a Domestic Violence Women's Shelter in our area."

Rich continues, "Anytime a female enters a male dominated profession, such as law enforcement, it tends to be an up-hill battle, not only physically, but also emotionally. Carrie is not afraid to tear down the barriers that have been put up by our society. Carrie has a 'Do not give up attitude,' and it shines through everyday she is at the academy."

Carrie's career plans include obtaining her associates degree in criminal justice, and hopefully one day becoming an officer with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

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Daphna Jones Spirit Award Winner (1 of 2)

Melinda King
Melinda King
Postsecondary/Adult Spirit Winner
Electronics Engineering Technology
Linn State Technical College
Nominated by Linda Franchini

Melinda King says there are many reasons she chose a nontraditional field. "The first and foremost is my serious interest in electronics. With technology changing so rapidly I feel that I can be a step ahead of the game by working in this field. I am also in this program because many people think that it's impossible for a woman to be as knowledgeable in electronics as a man. I would like to prove those people wrong."

Melinda was selected for the Spirit award because of the multiple obstacles she has had to overcome to succeed in this program. Melinda was in a terrible car accident and suffered serious injuries. Then her family's house caught fire and everything was lost. Melinda admits that both of these situations were financially challenging and it took a lot to overcome them, but she smiles and says, "I did it!" Melinda has been an active member of SkillsUSA for three years.

Melinda's nominator and Electronics Engineering Technology instructor, Linda Franchini, says, "Melinda has made her education her priority. She is a dedicated student and has the respect of all her classmates and instructors. Through all adversity she has stayed focused and allowed nothing to deter her from her dream of being an electronics technician."

Melinda's future career plans include working for a company as an engineering technician, and attending a four year university to further her education in Electronics Engineering.


Daphna Jones Spirit Award Winner (1 of 2)

Debra Ralson
Debra Ralston
Secondary Spirit Winner
Lamar Area Vo-Tech School
Nominated by Kenny McCall

Debra Ralston says, "When I first enrolled, I did not know Carpentry was a nontraditional class for women. I chose carpentry because I enjoy building and creating new and wonderful pieces of work to create a new beginning for someone else. Participating in this class has made me realize what I want to do with my future."

Debra was selected for the Spirit award because her nontraditional program has helped to turn her life around. Debra had a baby her freshman year, and struggled as a young mother. And then her Dad, who was her role model and supported her in every obstacle she tried to overcome, died during her junior year. Debra says, "I thought I would be a high school dropout. Then Vo-Tech totally turned my life around. The carpentry program has made me realize what I want to do with my life. Thanks to the Vo-Tech carpentry program, I now know I can do better and actually do something with my life."

Debra is indeed doing very well for herself as a role model, leader and mentor. She lettered academically in 2006 at Lockwood High School. She has had an impact on many people, for during and after class, students always ask her how something is done or if they are doing the job right.

Debra's nominator and carpentry instructor, Kenny McCall, describes Debra as being well ahead of the curve with her grasp of material and performance criteria.

Debra's plans after graduating from high school are to get a job to pay for more schooling so she can attend a technical school to become a carpenter. She would like to work her way toward owning her own contracting business and be her own boss.

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Secondary State Educator Award Winner

Linda Unger
Linda Unger
Secondary Educator
CAD Instructor
Excelsior Springs Area Career Center
Nominated by Joana Garcia

"Ms. Linda Unger is my CAD instructor here at Excelsior Springs Area Career Center. She is a great instructor and she needs to re rewarded for that. She's always willing to listen and help and she is nontraditional herself! What an excellent role model for my classmates and me."

"Ms. Unger encourages us to always do our best and go beyond what is expected. She does her part and more. She helps us understand what we are doing and what it will be like in the real word."

"She doesn't focus her time on just the guys, or just the girls, she spreads her time out evenly. She encourages us if we need it. Right now she is helping me find a firm I can intern at for the summer. She's a great teacher and friend. I really enjoy being in her class."

(All quotes are from the student's nomination form.)


Postsecondary State Educator Award Winner

Mitchell Walker
Mitchell Walker
Postsecondary/Adult Educator
Chair, Automotive Technology
St. Louis Community College
Nominated by Jennifer Burke

"Mr. Walker was the teacher who introduced me to the world of repairing automobiles. His manner of teaching allowed me to believe I could succeed in this field when I knew nothing about cars upon starting the program. Since then he has taken an ongoing, sincere interest in fostering my confidence and success."

"As I observed Mr. Walker interacting with myself and other students, for the first time I came to believe that teachers actually care about their students. If you don't understand a concept, he stops and explains it until you do understand. If you are struggling with a lab problem, he takes extra time after class to let you work on it longer. Never did he treat me differently from any of the students in the program. His action led to the other students (all male) accepting me as part of the program. Any time I needed help I was able to go to his office and gain reassurance that, in time, I would learn all I needed to know. And this has proven to be true. At times when my confidence lagged, his support made the difference."

"I don't think the word 'No' is in his vocabulary if the answer is in any way about helping or encouraging a student. I largely credit Mr. Walker with the fact that I will graduate this spring with a new career and the confidence to succeed in a traditionally male field."

(All quotes are from the student's nomination form.)

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Regional Breaking Traditions Award Winners

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Honorable Mention Breaking Traditions Award Winners

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